Continuing a recent series of interviews with global trading desk heads that culminated in his Six Advertising Automation Trends for Buyers and Sellers, Jay Sears, SVP at Rubicon Project, now hears from the sell side—leading publishers across the United States and Europe.

Today he speaks with Viacom Media Networks.

Your Name: Robert Brett

Your Company: Viacom Media Networks

Your Title: Vice President Programmatic Sales

What Flavor Ice Cream Best Describes Your Management Style:

Mint chip, it’s a family thing.

SEARS: On average—out of each $1.00 of advertising revenue received by your company, how much today is from automated or programmatic channels?

BRETT: Roughly $0.10 (of each $1.00) of our digital business is transacting through programmatic channels.

SEARS: What was this number two years ago, in 2011?

BRETT: Zero.

SEARS: What will this number be two years from now, in 2015?

BRETT: While we can foresee as much as $0.40-$0.60 of our digital display business transacting programmatically, the market is still developing.

SEARS: Describe how most media (all media, digital + non-digital, non-programmatic media) is sold by your company today.

BRETT: At Viacom Media Networks our emphasis in on major multi-platform, premium content sponsorships. Whether creating custom content or leveraging tent-poles like the Video Music Awards, the most effective campaigns require long lead and client and agency partnership throughout the process. We focus on client solutions that connect our viewers/users to the client in the most compelling way. The solution can be through the story that we are telling or leveraging technology to connect clients to consumers.

SEARS: Tell us about Viacom Media Networks.

BRETT: Viacom Media Networks is among the most vibrant, diverse and culturally relevant collections of brands in media and entertainment, differentiating itself in the marketplace by leveraging both audience and content for its partners. MTV is the cultural home of the Millennial Generation. Nickelodeon is the number one brand for kids. Comedy Central is the number one brand in comedy.

SEARS: What are Viacom Media Networks’ three biggest initiatives for 2014?


1. Content

2. Data

3. Innovation

SEARS: To reach a higher adoption of direct deal automation (also known as programmatic premium) and use of the programmatic channel, what are the major impediments to overcome? Rank these in numerical order:


2_ Operational or workforce issues inside the holding companies or operating agencies

4_ Premium (direct deal) inventory availability via programmatic

1_ Lack of proper ad technology

3_ Alignment of agency compensation models

n/a Alignment of publisher compensation models

SEARS: Tell us about your first party data strategy—do you currently have a DMP (data management platform) for your first party data?

BRETT: Viacom Media Networks uses Adobe to manage our data. Our insights are primarily around content consumption. We believe that the environment, the context for clients messaging remains the overwhelming driver for key brand performance. Technology allows for greater targeting, but without context, brands cannot build the relationship with consumers.

SEARS: Direct sold inventory is often sold three to 12 months in advance. Which of the following choices best describe how you use direct order automation and Connect—check all that apply:


1. _x__ We use direct order automation and Connect to leverage our first party data and bundle it with our media;

2. __x_ We use direct order automation and Connect to make available an “electronic version” of our media kit and related editorial calendar inventory packages (example: holiday or back-to-school themed packages) to buyers;

3. __x_ We use direct order automation and Connect to make available premium placements such as home page, section pages and other opportunities that are not available in the open market;

4. _x__ We use direct order automation and Connect to make available IAB Rising Star ad units and rich media ad units.

5. ___ We do not use direct order automation and Connect and believe all inventory should be sold via auction (with appropriate business rules, of course!)

SEARS: What advertising opportunities will never be sold via advertising automation?

BRETT: I believe custom marketing and high touch sponsorships will always require a direct sales and client relationship.

SEARS: Why is direct deal automation (also known as programmatic premium) so important? Is it important?

BRETT: Allowing clients and agencies access via automated channels is critical for the digital business, the scale and speed will demand it.

Tell us a bit more about you:

SEARS: If you could travel for pleasure anywhere in the world, to a place you have never been, where would you go?

BRETT: Tahiti with my wife Deborah and our new daughter Vivienne. The flights would be tough, but from I have seen, totally worth it.

SEARS: If you were trapped alone on a desert island and needed to choose one ad holding company CEO to accompany you, which CEO would you pick and why?

BRETT: Can’t play favorites.

SEARS: When is the last time you went out for a three martini lunch?

BRETT: I thought that stopped happening back in the 80s.

Thanks Rob!

Jay Sears is Senior Vice President, Marketplace Development for the Rubicon Project. Sears worksJay Sears with leadership and business unit heads across the company to expand Rubicon Project’s potential market. Sears has also served as General Manager, REVV Buyer, where he was responsible for global relations with the buy side including ad holding companies, ad agencies, agency trading desks and demand side platforms headquartered in North America. Jay can be reached at

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