Q&A with Ros Allison of Publicis’ ZenithOptimedia

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Q&A with Ros Allison of Publicis’ ZenithOptimedia

This is one in a series of interviews with leading buyers Down Under titled “Automation and TV in Australia.” Ros Allison appeared to discuss these topics with Jay Sears, Senior Vice President Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project, at the Rubicon Project Marketplace Summit Australia in Magenta, Australia on March 17, 2015.

Your Name:Ros Allison      

Your Company:ZenithOptimedia

Your Title:Head of Digital, MD Performics

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

ALLISON: Mainly Twitter, abc.net and the Sydney Morning Herald.  I may be the last person on the planet to get the newspaper home delivered.

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

ALLISON: I try and see my friends rather than read about them.  But of course it’s Facebook and then messenger or WhatsApp to make a plan.

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

ALLISON: Twitter, AdExchanger and mUmBRELLA and AdNews for local gossip.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation and programmatic, what are ZenithOptimedia’s three biggest initiatives in AUS in 2015?


  1. Fully integrate AOD programmatic, strategy, planning and optimization into ZenithOptimedia. Bringing programmatic expertise right into the strategic planning process.  Closer to client business, a better customer view. Transparent, agile and with a single total focus on client goals.  
  2. Accelerate innovation across programmatic channels. Build out live data feeds for real time activation and response, drive relevance through dynamic solutions.
  3. An integrated model allows us to build out predictive analytics across search, display and mobile channels to determine path level bid strategies, maximizing ROI at individual customer level.

SEARS: Tell us the about the Australian operations of ZenithOptimedia:

ALLISON: ZenithOptimedia helps brands navigate and win in a world dominated by change.  We start with a deep understanding of the complete context of our clients’ business, the market they operate in and the needs of their customers. We design total experiences for consumers that build -- bottom up -- from owned assets. Our integrated model, across digital, programmatic, content and search gives us a total customer focus across channels, platforms and approaches.

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?

ALLISON: We’re in the game.  It’s all on.

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

ALLISON: Automation solves for complexity and fragmentation and reduces the friction and resource drain in the buying and placement process.  So we can focus on the outcome rather than transaction -- on connecting with customers, rather than buying ads.  RTB has transformed our ability to speak to people at an individual level, totally reframing our view on value, price and data.

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

ALLISON: Anything can be automated.  But automation will need the market to be open and transparent and networks and advertisers to be really ready for change.

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


  1. The TV industry will need to automate to survive the decade.  As traditional channels blur and merge in consumers’ minds, the industry must accept the need to provide seamless content and experience across devices and channels. 
  2. More knowledge, continuing skill transfer and a more progressive mindset will be needed to fuel the change

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?

ALLISON: ZenithOptimedia operate a 100% real time bidded model, buying inventory and data at impression level to drive an outcome for our clients.  We don’t arbitrage, we don’t buy upfront and push inventory onto our clients.  Our model is transparent, and we expect Australian advertisers to ask the questions they need to understand the way their money is being spent.

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

ALLISON: F. Properly integrating the “trading desk” of old into agency client and account planning teams will be the real catalyst for change.  We’re making the change now to bring programmatic expertise into the strategic process and closer to the planners who are constructing the buys.  It means more effective customer experience planning, fast and better optimization and optimization across all screens and touch-points.

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?

ALLISON: Would love to go to the Northern Territory to take on the 223km Larapinta trail.  (Yes, they’re a client. But it’s meant to be one of the best treks on the planet.)

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

ALLISON: Bellingen Gelato.  Is that a restaurant?

SEARS: Thanks, Ros!

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