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  • I'm Ruth Kirschner, Director of Advertiser Sales for

  • Google's DoubleClick.

  • Welcome to the next Hangout in our series, " Programmatic in

  • the Future," where we're exploring how technology is

  • changing the way people buy and sell advertising through

  • conversations with leaders in the space.

  • Today, I'm pleased to be hanging out with Mike

  • Finnegan, Director of Product Development at Xaxis, WPP's

  • Agency Trading Desk.

  • Before we begin, I'd like to remind all of you on the

  • Hangout to submit your questions in the comment box

  • on the Google+ page below.

  • Mike thanks for joining us today.

  • I would like to ask, how is Xaxis formed?

  • And where do you see us in the life

  • cycle of digital marketing?

  • MIKE FINNEGAN: Yeah, that's a great question.

  • Thanks for having me, by the way.

  • This is great.

  • I definitely appreciate the opportunity,

  • and to talk to everybody.

  • So Xaxis is a really interesting company, because

  • we were formed of multiple other companies within the WPP

  • organization, specifically within GroupM.

  • We were a whole bunch of companies back in 2010 and

  • 2011 that were experimenting with different ways to buy

  • media and offer value back to our advertisers.

  • And it was a global exercise as well.

  • Big markets in the UK, a lot in Germany, Italy, and in the

  • US, were doing some really great things.

  • Kind of pioneering the practice of using programmatic

  • technology, really, in DSPs at the time, to figure out the

  • best way to pioneer real-time bidding practices for

  • advertisers.

  • And all of the little pockets of GroupM companies were doing

  • all the kind of similar things.

  • And GroupM made the decision to kind of unify all of that

  • and make Xaxis GroupM's, not just audience buying solution,

  • but really the leaders in the space within GroupM to kind of

  • pioneer new technology, new capabilities, and bring those

  • opportunities back to our advertisers and agencies.

  • RUTH KIRSCHNER: So you've been doing this

  • a long time, obviously.

  • I'm interested in where you see us in the life cycle of

  • digital marketing.

  • MIKE FINNEGAN: Yeah.

  • We're at a really interesting turning point, where I think

  • online advertising in general is reaching probably an

  • adolescence, which is a good way to think about it, where a

  • long time it was very manual to be

  • able to execute campaigns.

  • And along the way, to increase scale, we've done things like

  • sacrificing transparency.

  • And now we're at the point where transparency's at our

  • fingertips, and the control is more within the buyer's realm.

  • And because of that, we're at the point where we

  • supplemented high-reach buying with more transparent options,

  • like real-time bidding.

  • But were only starting to understand the capabilities of

  • what is beyond that?

  • What is the next step?

  • And really the buzzword that we're using a lot is

  • "programmatic" as a supplement to calling everything

  • real-time bidding.

  • But programmatic doesn't need to be saddled within one

  • channel like display.

  • Programmatic, a lot of conferences and publications

  • are talking about video and mobile.

  • And Xaxis is even pioneering in spaces like radio and

  • [INAUDIBLE] home.

  • So really, just saying that a piece of technology is more

  • versatile than just its current focus today.

  • So continuing to expand the technology onto more channels,

  • and bringing more opportunities to advertisers.

  • RUTH KIRSCHNER: And how do you specifically see programmatic

  • buying, which you've just given everybody some insight

  • into, evolving for trading desks like

  • Xaxis and for agencies?

  • MIKE FINNEGAN: Yep.

  • There's an interesting shift going on, where the types of

  • relationships that we're doing right now, a lot with private

  • marketplace I guess as a subset of programmatic buying,

  • where we are finally building relationships directly with

  • the publishers, and the technology comes almost

  • secondarily.

  • Which is really, I guess, step one of multiple steps in terms

  • of establishing a strategic structure and an executional

  • structure, and using technology to really power the

  • executional side of it.

  • So when we're looking at the structure of agency in trading

  • desk, we are completely in the infancy.

  • But what we're starting to see is that the trading desks are

  • able to forge these relationships.

  • And specifically about Xaxis, we're building relationships

  • on behalf of all of GroupM, where we're allowing the

  • agencies to say, here is my strategy.

  • Here's who we want to reach.

  • Here's how we'd like to reach them.

  • How can Xaxis help us do this as efficiently and as targeted

  • as possible?

  • And so, the relationships that we're building with wonderful

  • publishers--

  • people in the marketplace like NBC, who's

  • a big Google partner--

  • has really allowed us to bring more bells and whistles to our

  • agencies and advertisers, using the same technology that

  • we're using right now and have been since 2010.

  • So we're seeing that the schism between strategy, which

  • is being developed in the agency, and execution, which

  • is being pretty much delivered by the trading desk layer.

  • RUTH KIRSCHNER: So there's a lot of new things happening.

  • You talked a little bit about private inventory.

  • How is that working for Xaxis, and what's making that

  • successful for you guys?

  • MIKE FINNEGAN: Yeah.

  • That's great.

  • Purely the evolution of RTB and programmatic, we've seen

  • the ability to say, we can take advantage of

  • relationships that agencies have had for years with great

  • quality publishers, but find better,

  • easier ways to transact.

  • I think that's really the thing.

  • There's a lot of operational efficiencies that come with

  • what we're doing.

  • We call them always-on pipes.

  • It's a thing you'll hear hear if you walk around our office.

  • The pipes are on.

  • Our relationships are built.

  • The rates are fixed.

  • Everything is ready to go.

  • The pipes are open.

  • We can start transacting across any advertiser

  • that we want to.

  • So I think when we're talking about what RTB offers, which

  • is really high-reach, a lot of transparency, we're able to

  • say, OK, let's start productizing the technology,

  • and the publisher relationships, and the things

  • that our advertisers want, that kind of go up the value

  • chain for awareness-type products.

  • You hear a lot in the industry that programmatic is a race to

  • the bottom.

  • And I think what we're trying to do is say, it doesn't have

  • to be that way.

  • The relationships that we're building really bring value to

  • the publisher, as in proper valuation of their inventory,

  • and back to our advertisers, because we're allowing them to

  • bring their audiences.

  • Advertisers have always wanted to find audiences on these

  • quality publishers, but usually they use content and

  • context as a proxy.

  • Now what we're saying is, you can have your cake and eat it

  • too, because we have the quality inventory.

  • And you have the quality audiences

  • that you want to reach.

  • And we overlay audiences on top of this quality inventory,

  • and we are able to build products.

  • Our displayed branded product is called Xaxis Premium.

  • And the whole promise is the fact that only quality,

  • hand-picked inventory, 100% programmatic, and being able

  • to bring audiences, whether first party or third party,

  • and overlay those on top of that great inventory.

  • And we're doing it for advertisers who want to drive

  • awareness, drive brand response.

  • And so far, so good.

  • Beyond that, using programmatic technology not

  • just for display, but video, and radio, and things like out

  • of home, which are emerging as well.

  • So we totally see the writing on the wall of that, this is

  • not just a one-trick pony kind of technology.

  • It's more abundant.

  • RUTH KIRSCHNER: So you talked a little bit about providing

  • audience, and some of the benefits to both the

  • publishers you're working with, as well as the agencies

  • that you're working with.

  • What do you feel are the biggest benefits of

  • programmatic buying?

  • Is it more than audience?

  • MIKE FINNEGAN: It is certainly more than audience.

  • Programmatic buying for the publishers--

  • I'll talk about the publishers, and then the

  • advertisers.

  • But the publishers benefit because we're able to build--

  • like I said before, always-on pipes.

  • They have one relationship with Xaxis, and Xaxis brings

  • the demand to them.

  • So programmatic is benefiting the publishers by actually

  • making the transactional part of media buying much

  • more easy and fluid.

  • For the agencies and advertisers, we really offer a

  • lot of flexibility, because we have over 20 private

  • marketplaces live, from all different SSPs, all different

  • types of publishers.

  • So it gives Xaxis the ability to be really nimble, and kind

  • of put really good solutions together quickly, and be able

  • to execute pretty much that day.

  • If the agency says, let's do it, we're actually in a

  • position to do it.

  • On top of all the benefits of overlaying things like, all

  • the viewability tracking that an agency would want to do,

  • all the audience verification, and any kind of data overlays

  • that they run as well.

  • So what we're doing is we're compiling raw materials.

  • It's kind of how I look at it is, we're using technology to

  • take aggregate inventory and aggregate data and make

  • something really good from that.

  • So flexibility is really the name of the game.

  • Instead of contracting via insertion order, and then

  • turning over control to a third party outside of the

  • agency structure, where they're managing the campaign,

  • our interests are purely to make sure that these campaigns

  • run well, and run pretty much in the best interest of the

  • advertisers.

  • So we maintain the control and kind of put together this

  • great offering that can do that.

  • RUTH KIRSCHNER: So there's obviously a lot that's

  • changing right now in this space.

  • I think we certainly see new entrants, new vendors, new

  • data, vendors, et cetera, every day.

  • What do you feel is really lacking in the ecosystem?

  • And what challenges does that create?

  • MIKE FINNEGAN: Yeah.

  • I've probably had numerous discussions about how--

  • and this is ironic, and I will say that-- technology is

  • really the limiting factor in the space.

  • This is not a Google comment.

  • This is an everybody comment.

  • This is everything.

  • Buyers like us and publishers will sit down and have a

  • wonderful conversation about how we want to transact

  • programmatically.

  • We'll get a deal done.

  • We'll discuss rates and transparency.

  • And then we reach out to our technology partners and say,

  • can you help us make this a reality?

  • And that's where things really start to fall apart, because a

  • combination of multiple third parties on both the SSP and

  • the DSP side have a lot of proprietary technology that

  • sits in the middle.

  • And so platform A doesn't play nice with platform B, and then

  • we have to kind of go down the road of troubleshooting.

  • And I think a lot of our time is spent working with partners

  • to help troubleshoot across a different combination of

  • technology platforms.

  • So if there's one major request that's an

  • industry-wide request, it's to comply to a standardization

  • for how we're going to do

  • programmatic buying or trading.

  • However you want to say it.

  • So I'd rather spend our time building campaigns and scaling

  • relevant troubleshooting and having emails back and forth