Q&A: ZenithOptimedia Canada on Automation, Programmatic + TV

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Q&A: ZenithOptimedia Canada on Automation, Programmatic + TV

Jay Sears, Senior Vice President Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project discusses “Automation, Programmatic and TV” with Dominik Majka of Zenith Optimedia Canada.

Your Name:Dominik Majka

Your Company:ZenithOptimedia

Your Title:Vice President, Head of Programmatic and Operations

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

MAJKA: Newspaper sites are the best source of information as well as Pulse on LinkedIn. As people have less and less time to be well informed in all areas, bite size information pieces are becoming essential. TV is also a valuable source for me.

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

MAJKA: Mainly sports and current events online. My friends in particular are not keen on politics and arts per say which is a blessing. Friend conversations are different from industry ones.

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

MAJKA: LinkedIn, AdExchanger and eMarketer are main sources for me to gain a little perspective. In the advertising industry there are also a lot of events that will help you understand the perspective of others.

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

MAJKA: I’m not sure if I do have a favorite; however one of the commercials I’ve actually showed and shared in the past is Gears of War with “Mad World” song. It was very well done and unique in approach.

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


  1. Transparency

As we developed Zenith Marketplace for our Canadian clients, we did it with full transparency in mind. The transparency is on both the inventory and finances as we at Zenith believe in helping the clients decipher the digital space. Without the inventory transparency we couldn’t achieve insights which are sorely needed to move a client in the right direction and without financial transparency our clients would not understand the true cost of media purchased.

  1. Private Marketplace

The development of private marketplace is the foundation of proper digital execution. The open exchange is performance marketing. As Zenith Marketplace was developed over a year ago, the main focus was on movement from direct purchase to private marketplace as it represented a natural substitution and improvement in the way Zenith executes on behalf of their clients. It also represented highest brand safety which has been a concern for the industry.

  1. Communication Clarity

Although it is never discussed, with programmatic usage there needs to be clarity in terms of communication. At Zenith, our mission for the Marketplace is to deliver the best in class execution service as well as communication of results tailored to our client needs and based on our clients’ marketing goals. This will enable a partnership based collaboration which is the driving factor of programmatic adaptation by clients.

SEARS: On average in the Canadian 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?

MAJKA: I would have to say that $.05 of all media is spent through programmatic means. That is mainly due to TV not being enabled through programmatic means in Canada (just yet).

SEARS: What will this number be in 2017?

MAJKA: I am very careful when forecasting for the future. For me if the advertisers move $.15 to $.20 of every dollar into programmatic means of execution, that means that we’ve had great acceptance of this avenue for media. It all depends on what will happen with TV which in Canada is probably 3-5 years away (at least).

SEARS: Tell us the about the Canadian operations of Zenith Marketplace.

MAJKA: Zenith Marketplace’s vision is to create a custom ecosystem for each client comprised of both premium (fully defined publishers otherwise known as private marketplace) and open exchange inventory sources to understand media composition in digital and operate more efficiently and effectively for our clients.

Zenith Marketplace offers a collaborative partnership where our clients and the Marketplace team define KPIs for real time bidding space as well as discuss and agree on the composition of the plans through each avenue (desktop, mobile, social) and with each environment (premium and open) to arrive at the best marketing mix.

SEARS: Please tell us:

  • Overall managed budget (media spend) for your automated trading operations [FKA trading desk], expected in 2015 for Canada:
    • MAJKA: Trade secrets -- sorry. If I gave 5% of all media in the answers above, I cannot provide this information.
  • Percentage increase, managed budget (media spend) 2014 vs. expected 2015 for Canada:
    • MAJKA: 5%-8% depending on the client. A lot of clients have stable YoY budgets associated with advertising, the composition of media changes.
  • How many employees are there in Canada [headcount number]?
    • MAJKA:  
      • Total: 120
      • Toronto: 110
      • Montreal: 10

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

MAJKA: Some companies say that we’re in the stadium right now. However, I would say that in terms of linear TV in Canada we are driving to [it]. The technology is not yet there at scale and movement from broadcasters is very slow. VOD is ahead of the pack; however that doesn’t represent majority. We need a major broadcaster to invest in new technology to get into the stadium.

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

MAJKA: There are two benefits -- one operational and one strategic. That’s the starting point. The operations benefit is based on technology in place and diminished workload. Automation represents operational efficiency for advertisers. The strategic benefits are getting to understand audience patterns better and limiting fragmentation of purchases that has been hounding the industry for years. By controlling and understanding proper exposure of advertising in front of desired audience, we can start to look at message sequencing and prospecting for more moments of receptivity, especially in digital.

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

MAJKA: Everyone says yes. I’m not an expert on broadcast, however from what I heard it requires a major update to scheduling systems on the broadcaster side. This is where we can begin the mapping of TV advertising to get to automated state.

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


  1. Movement into programmatic in digital. If digital can lead the way in terms of automation then TV will quickly follow.

2) Video investment shifts from TV to digital. Again this is connected to digital investment increases. Automation in digital represents a major opportunity

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?

MAJKA: Yes, and as much as it is a lightning rod, it’s actually not an issue for Zenith Optimedia. This has been our approach from day 1 -- transparent on costs, data and inventory in order to make best decisions for the client. Media agencies and their independent trading desks are in the media purchase on behalf of their clients. If there is no transparency on cost and data/inventory, how can a client and the agency work in a partnership and make best decisions?

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

MAJKA: All apply. A is the most important one but closely followed by all others.

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?

MAJKA: I would take my girlfriend and go to Barcelona for a soccer game. FC Barcelona is my favorite team and I’d love to see them in action again.

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

MAJKA: Champions in Calgary. They help people with disabilities find employment and they deeply care about enabling these individuals with a sense of professional purpose. It’s a worthy cause as are many others.

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

MAJKA: Oh, you wouldn’t know it. It’s in the Silesian region in Poland called Old Tavern. They have the best regional food!

SEARS: Thanks, Dominik!

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