Talking Automation, Programmatic and TV with Baba Shetty, DigitasLBi -- The Jay Sears Interview

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
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This is the fifth in a series of interviews with leading buyers titled “Automation, Programmatic and TV.” Baba Shetty discussed these topics today with Jay Sears, SVP Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project at the Deutsche Bank Securities 2015 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach, Florida.

Your Name: Baba Shetty

Your Company: DigitasLBi

Your Title: Chief Strategy & Media Officer

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

SHETTY: The New York Times, The Atlantic, Economist and most of all my Twitter feed.

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

SHETTY: Is that a trick question? Facebook.

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

SHETTY: Depends on how you define our industry. The usual suspects all start with “Ad” -- (Adweek, AdExchanger, etc.) plus various technology, business consumer culture sources.

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

SHETTY: Hard to answer w just one. But I like this Dunkin Donuts ad.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation and programmatic, what are DigitasLBi’s three biggest U.S. initiatives in 2015?

SHETTY: We have one huge initiative: Helping clients understand the transformative nature of programmatic and then translating that understanding into action.

SEARS: Draw an analogy between the automation of television and a baseball game. Are we in the Pre-game? 1st inning? 9th inning? Still driving to the stadium?

SHETTY: Spring Training. We’re still assessing players and positions (inventory and tech).

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

SHETTY: The operational inefficiencies of media buying that did exist and still do to this day are dumbfounding. Automated buying or programmatic is helping ease some of these time constraints on our planners. What our talent does best -- and what they want to do -- is focus on strategy and planning.

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

SHETTY: Yes, but it will take some time. As broadcast partners continue to update their technology platforms ultimately enabling the opportunity to automate more inventory in accordance with the available data from set top boxes, automated linear TV will come to fruition.

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?

SHETTY: It should be a given and not something that needs to be a negotiated benefit. The days of arbitrage in this space are gone. Advertisers are demanding to know how every dollar is being spent and what they are getting from it -- as they should be.

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

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

SHETTY: F. All of the above. Data, inventory quality, waterfall positon, format options are all keys to accelerate automated guaranteed and honestly what we look for in platform partners to execute on our programmatic guaranteed buys.

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?

SHETTY: St. Lucia.

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

SHETTY: The Poverty Action Lab at MIT.

SEARS: Thanks, Baba!

Jay Sears is Senior Vice President, Marketplace Development for the Rubicon Project. Sears worksJay Searswith 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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