Q&A with Caspar Schlickum of WPP’s Xaxis

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Q&A with Caspar Schlickum of WPP’s Xaxis

This is one in a series of interviews with leading buyers across EMEA titled “Automation and TV in EMEA.” Caspar Schlickum appeared to discuss these topics with Jay Sears, Senior Vice President Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project, at The 3rd Annual Real Time Trading Update from Europe’s Buy Side in London, UK on March 26, 2015.

Your Name:Caspar Schlickum

Your Company:Xaxis

Your Title:CEO, Xaxis EMEA

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with politics, art and culture?

SCHLICKUM: I’m quite into News Republic at the moment.

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with friends?

SCHLICKUM: What do I “read” to keep up with friends? The Financial Times. No wait, the Daily Mail. Okay, Facebook.

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with our industry?

SCHLICKUM: The Ad Tech Friday 2.0 group on What’s App. So much wisdom, so much banter.

SEARS: What’s your favorite commercial of all time?

SCHLICKUM: The Honda Cog ad from 2003 takes a lot of beating. Filmed in one take, you can practically hear the engineers and creative team cheering at the end.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation and programmatic, what are Xaxis’ three biggest EMEA initiatives in 2015?


  1. The ongoing investment in and development of our Turbine DMP, including the ability to connect this to other data sources. Data is everything in the programmatic world.
  2. Maintenance of our inventory strategy. We have always been proud of the fact that we work directly with GroupM’s publishers to create a pool of inventory across which we can execute programmatically in real time. We will continue this focus especially as our clients start asking tough questions about inventory quality.
  3. Focus on our amazing people and teams around the region and the world. Anyone who says programmatic is not a people business does not understand programmatic.

SEARS: On average in the EMEA market -- out of each $1.00 spent on media (all media, not just digital) by one of your advertisers, how much today (in 2015) is spent on automated or programmatic channels?

SCHLICKUM: More every day, but it depends on how you define programmatic.

SEARS: What will this number be in 2017?

SCHLICKUM: By 2017 it will be an irrelevant question, especially with so much media (OOH, TV, radio, even print) making forays into the programmatic world.

SEARS: Tell us the about the EMEA operations of Xaxis:

SCHLICKUM: In one word: Growing. In two words: Growing Fast! Which I put down completely to the quality of our products and the platforms we have built and the tangible value we are creating for our expanding client base by deploying those products and platforms for them.

SEARS: Please tell us:

  • SEARS: Overall managed budget (media spend) for your automated trading operations, expected in 2015 for EMEA:
    • SCHLICKUM: We only publicly discuss our global number, which is USD 750 million of sales in 2014
  • SEARS: Percentage increase, managed budget (media spend) 2014 vs. expected 2015 for EMEA:
    • SCHLICKUM: Globally, we grew our business by 21%

SEARS: How many employees are there in EMEA?

SCHLICKUM: Around 230 people.

SEARS: What countries are you entering in 2015?

SCHLICKUM: We just opened an office in MENA (Dubai) and Finland. We are now in 21 countries, so the pace of expansion will slow, but our clients often ask to work with us in markets where we don’t have a business, so any new market expansions we are consider now are based on our clients wanting to work with us there. Which is a nice feeling!

SEARS: Draw an analogy between the automation of television and a European football game. Are we in the pre-game? Still driving to the stadium?

SCHLICKUM: Picking the teams.

SEARS: How can advertising automation help the strategy and planning functions (directly or indirectly) at an advertising agency?

SCHLICKUM: It’s a two way road. It’s not just about what we can give them, but what they can give us. All the creative effort at drawing in an audience is critical as it engages an audience and creates useful data points. Therefore it’s a continuum. We work with our creative agencies frequently to define the role that data can play across that continuum. Not everything has to be targeted/programmatically executed to be useful for programmatic/targeting later.

SEARS: Can linear TV be automated, yes or no?

SCHLICKUM: Sure. Why not? It’s already happening, it just isn’t widely distributed yet.

SEARS: What two or three events or happenings will accelerate the automation of television?


  1. Increased transparency into audience attributes and enhanced ability to establish contextual audience valuations
  2. Introduce insight-driven decisioning and ad delivery

SEARS: Transparency -- on media costs, on data, on inventory -- has become a lightning rod issue. Should transparency be a negotiated benefit for the advertiser client, yes or no?

SCHLICKUM:Actually as clients are understanding this space better, and getting know the players and their models, I find this is yesterday’s issue. Smart clients are making much more educated decisions now, which is exactly what we need in this industry. They are no longer being so easily confused by shiny acronyms. Transparency then becomes a valid consideration in a large set of valid considerations, and definitely not the only one.

SEARS: Which of the following will accelerate the automation of site direct (direct orders) budget? Pick all that apply:

  1. Dynamic access to all publisher inventory [vs. just “remnant” or “auction”]
  2. Ability to leverage publisher first party data
  3. Ability to leverage advertiser first party data [against all publisher inventory, especially premium
  4. Availability of rich media, expandable units and larger IAB Rising Star formats
  5. Ability to more easily curate audiences for specific advertisers across the premium content of multiple publishers
  6. All of the above

SCHLICKUM: A. I will say this, because at Xaxis our strategy has always been to work directly with our publishers to create a pool of inventory across which we execute programmatically in real time. The big benefit of this is that we can then sit with those publishers and work with them on all of the above. Every publisher is different, and some will want to do things others won’t, but sitting in a room with a publisher and developing ideas like the above is our bread and butter, and ultimately what our clients expect their agency to do.

SEARS: If you could create an endowment to fund any existing non-profit you designated, what lucky non-profit organization would that be?

SCHLICKUM:Sick kids. So unfair.

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

SCHLICKUM: Don’t really care, as long as my wonderful wife Tamara is sitting across from me (actually usually next to me).

SEARS: Thanks, Caspar!

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