Talking Automation, Programmatic and TV with Jeff Dow of Starcom MediaVest Group -- The Jay Sears Interview

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Talking Automation, Programmatic and TV with Jeff Dow of Starcom MediaVest Group -- The Jay Sears Interview

This is the first in a series of interviews with leading buyers titled “Automation, Programmatic and TV.” The executives in this series discussed these topics with Jay Sears, SVP Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project this week at the Cantor Fitzgerald’s 2nd Annual Internet/Technology Conference in New York City.

Your Name: Jeff Dow

Your Company: Starcom MediaVest Group

Your Title: Executive Vice President, Digital, Data & Analytics

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

DOW: It’s a bit of an eclectic mix -- Chicago Tribune, Deadspin, Drudge Report, Flipboard and ESPN. I’m also listening to “The History of Rome” podcast which, though discussing a topic 2000 years old, often manages to be surprisingly pertinent.

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

DOW: I don’t, really. Texts and tweets keep me relatively up to date. I am currently reading the Steve Jobs biography -- playing a bit of catch up on that one.

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

DOW: Wall Street Journal and Forrester.

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

DOW: I have two: Terry Tate Office Linebacker, which I watched an unhealthy number of times when it came out, and Peanut Butter Cheerios #HowToDad. I’ve been howtodad hash-tagging even the most basic dad responsibilities these days.

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

1. One – Precision TV (linear & addressable)
2. Two – Video Content @ Scale to address micro relevancy
3. Three – Mobile video to bring unique sight/sound/motion experiences to person and place

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?

DOW: I believe we’re still in the pre-game; while some limited tests are occurring programmatically connecting TV buyer and seller, there’s still a long way to go. Of many interesting dynamics currently propelling the market, one of the most compelling is the speed of content moving above and around the set-top box. As video content delivery matures alongside consumer video consumption behavior, the investment in automation and programmatic content delivery and measurement will follow.

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

DOW: Advertising automation can essentially be boiled down to accelerating the ability to act on knowledge. As such, advertising automation will do two things -- first, it will amplify the value of human intelligence and decision making, and second it will allow for rapid performance and investment management. Together these dimensions will enhance the ability of ad agencies to create measurable, provable business value for clients.

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

DOW: Yes. Starting with tech companies like Invidi and others, as well as operators like Comcast to create the foundational infrastructure, we can work backwards to dynamic video ad insertion on the supply side. This will meet the buy side, which has been working actively on automation, in the middle to create end to end linear automation. Still a number of years out however.

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


1. ACR; as real time technologies become adept at measuring audiences, TV automation will accelerate to let advertisers efficiently find and target those audiences
2. OTT will disrupt how video content is consumed and will accelerate TV automation by diversifying the content streams that take over our TV sets

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?

DOW: No. Transparency should be an expected benefit for advertiser clients; even when commercials demand a non-disclosed model, the model should be communicated transparently and judged on the merits of its performance.

SEARS: Which of the following will accelerate the automation of site direct (direct orders) budget? Pick all that apply. [Dow’s answers in brackets]

a) Dynamic access to all publisher inventory vs. just “remnant” or “auction” – [Yes]
b) Ability to leverage publisher first party data – [No]
c) Ability to leverage advertiser first party data [against all publisher inventory, especially premium] – [Yes]
d) Availability of rich media, expandable units and larger IAB Rising Star formats – [Yes]
e) Ability to more easily curate audiences for specific advertisers across the premium content of multiple publishers – [Yes]
f) All of the above

DOW: As advertisers invest heavily in the technology and expertise to define and target tangible audiences comprised of individuals, the ability to reach those audiences deterministically and consistently across the full media plan will go a long way towards accelerating site direct automation.

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?

DOW: I’d take my family and a few friends and go to Vail. Nothing’s better than that first beer in the hot tub after a day skiing.

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

DOW: I would fund the One Acre Fund, which provides seed money, materials and training to budding farmers in under-developed economies.

SEARS: Thanks, Jeff!

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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