Q&A with Dan Robins of Omnicom’s OMD

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Q&A with Dan Robins of Omnicom’s OMD

This is one in a series of interviews with leading buyers Down Under titled “Automation and TV in Australia.” The series was produced in conjunction with the Rubicon Project Marketplace Summit Australia in Magenta, Australia on March 17, 2015.

Your Name:Dan Robins

Your Company:OMD Australia

Your Title:Head of Performance

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

ROBINS: SMH, Wall Street Journal, Time, BuzzFeed

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

ROBINS: Facebook, Instagram

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

ROBINS: Twitter, plus AdExchanger, ExchangeWire, AdNews, mUmBRELLA, AdWeek, Campaign, etc.

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

ROBINS: In the UK in the 80s, Carling (beer) was brilliant. I’ve always been impressed when an ad strapline jumps from ads into everyday culture. The “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label” did just that.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation and programmatic, what are OMD’s three biggest initiatives in Australia and New Zealand in 2015?


  1. Full accountability: Pulling in viewability metrics into everything we do
  2. “Offline” channels: Digital OOH and programmatic TV
  3. Data enrichment: Interlinking first and third party data sources, at scale.

SEARS: On average in the Australian and New Zealand markets -- 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?

ROBINS: Very broadly speaking, it’s about $0.10-$0.20. This has definitely grown over the last 12 months and by the end of 2015 I would expect it be closer to $0.30 as we do more in video in particular.

SEARS: What will this number be in 2017?

ROBINS: Easily $0.40

SEARS: Tell us the about the Australian and New Zealand operations of OMD.

ROBINS: OMD is one of Australia’s leading media buying and planning agencies. As part of a global OMD network of 8,500-plus people in over 120 offices, we deliver insights that unlock demand potential, ideas that ignite consumer desire and results that accelerate business growth for our clients. We are a dynamic, creative and influential agency network that collectively combines to make OMD the most awarded agency network in the world.

With offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart we have over 400 people in Australia alone covering Full service Communications Planning, Media Planning and Buying, Econometrics, Performance Media including Direct and 360’ Digital (Data Analytics, Market and Customer Insight, Social Media, Sponsorship, Branded Entertainment and Content Creation and Experiential.

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

ROBINS: Definitely the pre-game. People are talking and excited, but it’s still not yet here.

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

ROBINS: The biggest win is time saved on the mundane, to be used on insight generation, ideation and focusing on developing the client and campaigns.

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

ROBINS: To some extent. If we could get to a place where all (or most) available inventory was made available in an online environment that planners could select and click to purchase and push through creative it would be a great step forward.

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


  1. Proof points coming from pay-TV tests such as MCN/Adap.tv’s work in 2015
  2. Industry wide (on the buy-side) selection of a trading platform (or even platforms)

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?

ROBINS: Yes. The client should always be in control of their money and placement of ads, and should be able to select how much risk they are willing to take on -- 100% transparency where you may pay a little more, or put the risk onto the agency but in doing so lose an element of transparency/control for the reward of lower costs.

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

ROBINS: A, D and E. A is the definite biggest. We still struggle to gain access to trade all part of a publisher’s inventory programmatically. In the main, the ask for this inventory is not to drive down cost, but to be able to overlay data and serve better messaging so opening this up would drive huge increases in programmatic trading.

SEARS: If you could go to the airport right now with friends or family and fly anywhere in the world for vacation, who would you take and where would you go?

ROBINS: Three mates, Augusta National in Georgia for as many rounds of golf as they would let us have!

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

ROBINS: Oz Harvest. I hate how much waste society creates, but love these put it to good use.

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

ROBINS: Le Gavroche in London. Just incredible.

SEARS: Thanks, Dan!

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