ALLiance Panel Reflections and the Path Forward

December 21, 2018 — by Ross Greenberg0


“Hi. My name is Ross, and my pronouns are he/him/his.”

Now, why did I specify that? Everyone who knows me knows I identify as male and have likely not been misgendered recently (if ever). I offer up my pronouns upon introduction in solidarity and recognition of those who don’t identify as their perceived gender. Breaking news: Gender is a spectrum and the binary of male or female is outdated, incorrect and incredibly exclusive. Did that sentence overwhelm and confuse you? Well, buckle up because this is just the tip of the gender identity/sexuality spectrum iceberg. Welcome to my TED Talk.

When I first founded ALLiance (which is MediaMath’s LGBTQIA+ employee resource group) I intended for it to be a resource for those within the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies within the company which, over time, we hope and expect to be everyone. We kicked off in a big way with the 2018 Pride Party, which was incredibly fun and very well attended, but was just the beginning of what I saw ALLiance being able to offer to this company. Last week, our second major event took place, which was a panel I held in the kitchen. I welcomed back two former MediaMath employees, Tom Aulet and Nicole Scalamandre, as well as the Senior Software Engineer at Bravely, Cade Friedenbach. These three people spoke candidly, openly and personably to a small audience of MediaMath employees about their experiences being out in the workplace.

Topics discussed included the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms in an office, more inclusive language used both internally and with our clients and how to handle a co-worker coming out or transitioning. In short, it was about creating a workplace that is welcoming and inclusive of our community.

Questions from the audience included “What does the I and A stand for at the end of LGBTQIA+?” (intersex and allies or asexual) and “Why do people refer to themselves as they, them or their?” (to remove the gendered aspect of pronouns with which they do not identify). The panel obviously answered some pressing questions and allowed those present to hear directly from people within this community about how this aspect of their lives comes into play at work, but also started a conversation within the company—one that hopefully continues and grows from this event.  These seemingly simple questions required an event to create a space for people to feel safe asking them.  And answering them is part of creating an environment where we all learn from each other.

There are some actionable takeaways from the conversation that companies like ours can start implementing immediately to create an open, inclusive workplace. One is adding your pronouns in your email signatures. This is a small change that we can all make to remove any misgendering or confusion around people’s names and/or gender identities. Another is working on our communications, both internally and with clients, by removing the “he/she” from all our communications as a simple, yet effective, way to ensure no one feels excluded from any forms, emails, etc.

In 2019, I will work with our leadership team and our MediaMath family to continue this conversation within the company and beyond. We will welcome department heads and SLT leaders into the conversation to better spread the philosophy of inclusion and a welcoming way of thinking and operating. Beyond ALLiance in the workplace, we want to work with our talent teams to attract more LGBTQIA+ community members and their skills. We also plan to explore how we can leverage our trade associations to execute thought leadership around how the industry as a whole can do better in both the workplace and in the marketplace.  MediaMath is at the beginning of a journey to inclusiveness, and the first step is being open to growth. Dare I call to mind one of our new values? Let’s Obsess Over Learning & Growth together, shall we?


Looking Back at a Game-Changing 2018…and Planning for a Big 2019

December 18, 2018 — by Joe Zawadzki0


As our MediaMath family members gather around dinner tables and living rooms with their natural or chosen relatives this holiday season, they will undoubtedly be asked how it’s going at work. They may yet again have to explain what it is we do in the world of digital advertising and how, yes, we help marketers connect with consumers all over the world across all kinds of digital screens but, no, we are not one of the bad guys who keeps track of your private thoughts or who your friends are or stalks you, Grandma—that’s another company.

To help inform those holiday conversations, we thought we would jot down some quick thoughts about how things are going here at MediaMath. In short, it’s been an amazing year—full of ups and downs and pretty much everything in between. This year, we raised a significant investment of capital to help us position our technology, talent and partnerships well to ride the sometimes choppy waters of digital marketing and to continue growing and competing at the highest levels in 2019.

We’ve made significant strides building towards our product vision across identity, AI and supply over the last 12 months. Those terms are somewhat “inside baseball.” But put simply, it means we are progressing in how we help marketers and their partners recognize consumers on their digital devices, reach them efficiently and appropriately, show them the most relevant messages and enable them to drive real business growth.

Our identity work centers on creating a global, open, enterprise-class, pseudonymous solution that puts the consumer first, backed by support for the IAB’s DigiTrust initiative and partnerships with some of the world’s most trusted and innovative technologies. We are continuing to refactor the supply chain for how an ad gets from concept to screen, with several key initiatives under our Curated Markets product line to foster accountability in media procurement and drive performance across premium supply, including our Guaranteed Viewable Market launch, updates to our native product and a commitment to stop working with SSPs with shady auction practices. We have rolled out further innovations across linear and connected TV, digital out of home and audio to extend the power of programmatic to new and emerging channels. On the AI front, we are optimizing our advanced machine learning algorithm, The Brain, now connected to IBM Marketing’s Watson AI tech to bring more quantitative horsepower into the marketing field, as well as showcasing our platform’s eagerness and readiness to allow other technologies to enrich it and enable clients’ capabilities that have been built on top of it. By partnering with the other platforms in which marketers invest, we can together help our clients reach their customers more effectively in ways those audiences—namely, us as consumers of content and buyers of goods and services both as customers and as clients—appreciate. Look for updates here in the first half of 2019.

It sounds both technical and lofty, and it is, but it is also super exciting and will have real-world applications that will help make marketing that everyone loves.

On the talent front, we elevated some of our best internal rock stars into new leadership slots this year. Take Wil Schobeiri, who is now running a growing and joint tech and product team under one banner. This is a key point of investment and attention because, at our roots, we are a tech company producing tech products. There have been other promotions too, such as Jenna Griffith, now our Chief Operating Officer, Anna Grodecka-Grad, our Chief Services Officer, and Franklin Rios, our Chief Commercial Officer overseeing both our corporate development and client operations teams globally.

We also hired new talent like Jim Sink, our SVP of Global Partnerships tasked with forging stronger relationships with our agency, channel and consultancy partners; Danny Sepulveda, our VP of Government Relations who is helping to shape and communicate MediaMath’s policies and practices concerning privacy and consumer protection; and Jackie Vanover, our VP, DSP, who is driving our platform innovation to help our clients find their audiences at the right time, for the right price, in the right place, with the right message, to delight and drive their business forward. We’re aggressively looking to hire more great talent as we continue to fill and create new roles in our growing endeavor. (Just in case cousin Eileen is interested, send her this link. We hear she rocks.) And to help evangelize and build upon our tech to meet the needs of both brands and agencies, we both revamped our Professional Services team to further optimize clients’ use of our platform with more robust campaign management, education and consulting offerings and developed new and strengthened existing partnerships with major players like IBM, Oracle and Akamai across our product pillars.

What all that upgrading and evolving results in is our continued position as a top choice for clients seeking an independent, transparent, software-based multi-channel platform with a robust product vision and roadmap. Translating for non-ad tech insider Uncle Jim, that means that while many marketers at the world’s biggest brands and agencies are going through big media companies like Facebook and Google to send advertising to people, we have become the preferred choice for those marketers who want to work with a purpose-built technology company like ours that is focused on their needs and that connects marketers and people—and everyone in between—in a way that is open and enterprise-class. That’s why we got highest-in-class grades (the parents should like that) from industry watchers like Gartner and Advertiser Perceptions.

At the same time, we’re also finding ways to make marketing an actual force for good. We are part of the Pledge 1% movement, meaning we’re donating 1% of our time, 1% of our technology and 1% of our profits to support causes that we all care about. (To find out more about the ways in which we’re making this a reality, see our holiday card here). And because we know that those dinner table conversations inevitably turn to concern over how people’s information is being used, stored and distributed, we are working with our trade associations to more clearly understand as an industry how we can evolve to better present our value proposition to consumers and give them greater control over how they are observed in the market. These efforts range from helping construct the IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework for the GDPR to working with the FBI to take down a global botnet.

We are riding the crest of a wave of technology that is changing the world of advertising and how people relate to the brands they love. It’s great.

So, after all that, from our family to yours, we hope everyone has a great holiday and prosperous new year. Now, back to dinner.


Identity Questions for 2019 and Beyond

December 3, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Personalized marketing depends on the ability to identify consumers. But how marketers go about identifying consumers is complex in today’s ecosystem. An Advertising Week panel led by MediaMath VP of strategic business development Ellie Windle pondered this topic. With an eye to changes in 2019, panelists discussed the GDPR, connected TV and the dynamic nature of establishing identity. The panel included Michele McCray-Howard, director, media partner solutions at Macy’s; Molly Parr senior director, data platform product management for Disney DTC; and Wendy Verschoor, product manager at Akamai Technologies.

Regarding the GDPR, Parr said, “I probably spend 40 percent of my time talking to privacy and legal. Everything needs to be put through that gauntlet and the lens of ‘Will our guests be happy?’” Parr said the holy grail is to please both guests and advertisers.

Meanwhile, the topic of connected TV came up several times. Panelists noted a shift in media consumption in which viewers are seeing TV as a source of on-demand content rather than as a broadcast medium.

“Identity can help you serve better content and ensure that where you’re buying your spots is where you want to be,” said McCray-Howard. “What we’ve been learning from our tech partners recently is you could be buying on network and then find out you’re on a kids’ TV show.” McCray-Howard said better data will prevent the serving of ads to inappropriate audiences.

Another conundrum for marketers is how to establish identities across platforms. Parr said a common misconception is that identity isn’t static. “We don’t go out and figure out identity and we’re done,” she said. “It’s a constantly trained model.”


This Giving Tuesday, Can We Do Good, Better?

November 26, 2018 — by Michael Quinn0


On Giving Tuesday, there is a 24-hour period in which our society temporarily shifts its focus from consumption to generosity as we hear about the amazing charity work that individuals, companies, foundations and philanthropists are funding around the world.

As the person who runs, a relatively small philanthropy department with a big vision, I am privileged daily to decide which causes we support. In a sea of worthy causes and charities, what elevates one over another?  What criteria are people in my situation using and how do they make decisions? Some are choosing to support extreme poverty, others their local theater and others universities that have more resources than many countries. What gives? Giving is personal, but coming from a highly data-driven company, I feel that we need a more organized and methodological approach to our giving. How can we enable our resources to have the largest impact?

Here is an idea, using three simple steps:

  1. List all the causes/problems in the world, then rank them objectively by priority and scale of the problem.
  2. Next, list all the nonprofits that work in each cause area, then rank them by effectiveness* in solving these problems. (*Not efficiency; that’s a separate thing.)
  3. Finally, overlay how much funding each charity gets from various sources.

What we end up with could look something like the below image, before layering on the funding amounts. Of course, it is an oversimplified idea, but even thinking through Step 1 would be valuable for many donors. Getting to Step 3, you could easily see which areas are over- and underfunded, and where your resources might make the greatest difference. Where would homelessness in San Francisco be on the scale compared to malaria, which still kills 1,000 children under age 5 every day, and how much funding are both getting from donors?

This simple framework could help us be more informed about our donations, instead of giving randomly, which is always based on good intention, but often not as impactful as we would like.  

So, this Giving Tuesday, I’m challenging us all to “Do Good, Better”—whether you’re a corporate philanthropist deciding where to gift millions or an individual with $100 to donate.

Below are examples of how MediaMath has leveraged our 1% Pledge to “Do Good, Better” by seeking out high-priority problems, and the effective charities with proven solutions to these problems, making maximum impact with our resources, using our heart and head. We suggest The Life You Can Save, whose mission it is to “raise annual donations to highly impactful nonprofits that reduce suffering and premature death for people living in extreme poverty,” as a great place to start.

We hope you can join us—not only on this Giving Tuesday, but as you consider your philanthropic efforts throughout 2019—in doing good, better.


Blockchain Has Lots of Promise, But It’s Still in its Infancy

November 21, 2018 — by MediaMath0


“Is it just buzz?” That’s the question Erich Wasserman, co-founder, head of strategic business development at MediaMath used to open an Advertising Week session on blockchain. The answer, from panelists Isaac Lidsky, founder/CEO of Underscore CLT, a blockchain company MediaMath incubated, and Chad Andrews, global solutions leader for advertising and blockchain at IBM, was an emphatic “No.”

Unlike other overhyped technologies, blockchain has some compelling real-world uses. Andrews said blockchain can revolutionize the supply chain by offering a trusted, common version of truth. For instance, a single container of flowers traveling from Madagascar to Rotterdam could have 200 pieces of paper from 30 organizations attached to it. IBM has since digitized the process.

What blew Andrews’ mind was that the World Trade Organization estimates that if the practice was used worldwide, it could raise the world’s GDP by 5%. “Did you say that’s a $3 trillion use case?” Andrews asked.

Blockchain isn’t just for shipping. The idea of providing a final, immutable record has appeal for many industries, including advertising. Lidsky said that blockchain can be used to enforce the rules between buyers and sellers of advertising “and also guarantee that they’re talking to who they think they’re talking to and that they’re buying what they think they’re buying.”

Lidsky added that blockchain isn’t another layer of technology or complexity but a wholesale change. “At this point, it represents an opportunity to change the way business is done,” he said.

Andrews cautioned though that the industry must work harder before it achieves that vision. “If you expect an infant to ride a bike, you’re going to be disappointed,” he said.


Spreading the Digital Dividends of Programmatic to More People and Markets: NMI in Mexico

November 19, 2018 — by Elise James-Decruise0


MediaMath is committed to driving deeper the digital dividends of programmatic advertising to a more diverse and inclusive group of people at home and abroad.  It is the right thing to do and presents limitless potential for growth. It is also a good thing to do for a world hungry for the innovation, jobs and prosperity that the digital economy can drive.

We are blessed that our company, employees and sector have benefited from the development and exponential growth of programmatic, automated, digital marketing in the United States. But from the beginning, though born in America, we have aimed to have a global footprint, including in a number of growing markets in Latin America. We want people everywhere to share in the bounty that data-driven digital marketing can create as a sector and as a tool used economy-wide to sell goods and services and, in turn, create jobs and sustain communities.

In pursuit of that mission, I recently traveled to Mexico to meet with industry leaders, university marketing professors and Mexican students at seven universities. I was energized by the aspiration of that community to develop and grow the skills, talent, networks and community necessary to bring marketing in Mexico into the digital age. We intend to help them do it.

The education and training arm of MediaMath that I lead, the New Marketing Institute, is developing curriculum, programs and partnerships to speed up the harvesting of the native marketing tech talent necessary to make Mexico a leader in our sector. We started with this trip, establishing the relationships and seeding the partnerships with industry and academia necessary to systematically roll out digital marketing curriculum and training across the sector.

As a next step, we will provide Spanish language training for professors to acquire an understanding of how programmatic marketing works, the technology involved and how a marketing message gets from advertisers to digital devices and publishers where a consumer receives that message. That “train-the-trainer” strategy will enable them to then teach their own students at the universities we target as partners. Over time, we will introduce curriculum and training in more advanced categories ranging from the use of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology for marketing to how to construct audiences and segments in a way that respects consumers and the permissions they grant for the use of their information.

As these students move through their education and enter the market, they will work for clients and competitors in Mexico, building a vibrant community that will grow the pie for everyone. These seeds will ripen, and with their native knowledge of the market in which they were raised and live and shared commitment to “meeting each learner where they are,” they will, in turn, make a digital Mexico prosperous and strong.


How Uber Started Making Ads People Love

November 13, 2018 — by MediaMath0


How does a brand with a large focus on mobile marketing drive transparency and incrementality on what is normally a very fraud-prone channel?

For Uber, it took changing its programmatic operating model to shift what its internal team, agency and tech partner were focused on to drive real outcomes for the brand. During AdWeek New York, Bennett Rosenblatt, programmatic display lead at Uber, sat down with Anna Grodecka-Grad, SVP, global head of professional services at MediaMath, to talk about this transformation in the session “How Uber Disrupted the Traditional Media Buying Model.”

In Uber’s case, the brand decided to transform its operations when it began to hit a saturation point with riders. “We’ve pivoted now to running reengagement as our No. 1 tactic for riders in North America,” said Rosenblatt. “Running static banners, hitting users with 20 or 30 ads a week just is not incremental for us.”

In general, Rosenblatt said the brand was often looking for help in navigating the digital media ecosystem. MediaMath helped fill that void.

“MediaMath began to lean in and run those campaigns on our behalf and began to give us those in-house learnings, telling us what was working and what wasn’t,” said Rosenblatt. “And that was really valuable for us.”

The brand migrated to a strategy of in-game ads aimed at low-frequency riders that are likely to get a response. One unit, for instance, is aimed at San Francisco Uber riders and is a lookbook for the top five restaurants for Uber riders in the city.

“Even though we’re Uber and we have 18,000 employees, we don’t have the resources to go super-deep on every campaign. If you’re working with a partner, you should trust them.”


Dmexco 2018: An Insider’s Guide

August 21, 2018 — by Viktor Zawadzki0


If this is your first year attending Dmexco, you’re not alone. This year, 40,000 visitors are expected — about 10,000 more than last year. Some 1,000 exhibitors and more than 500 speakers are also going to be there.

Considering its size, the Cologne, Germany-based Dmexco, held on Sept. 12-13, is a logistical challenge. But it’s also an increasingly important industry event. For many, the show is a vehicle for continuing conversations started at Cannes. At Cannes, you might begin making plans, but at Dmexco you make sure that the plans are in motion.

Beyond those discussions, there’s a lot to explore as well. To get the most of out of the show, here are some tips from a veteran attendee:

  • Scope it out beforehand: You can’t just parachute into Dmexco. You need to research beforehand and identify interesting companies that you want to meet and which help company goals and solve your problems. The alternative—ambling around the trade show floor—is a poor substitute. There is little correlation between the impression that a company’s stand makes at the show and the value of the company itself. Guess what, most companies are great at putting the latest buzzwords on their booth—separating the wheat from the chaff is becoming more and more complex over the last years.
  • Schedule smart: Schedule meetings and plan for breaks. If you are at Dmexco to initiate business, use the Dmexco app to navigate as well as schedule meetings. If you don’t schedule, you’re likely to find that everyone who booked a stand already has a full schedule. It will be hard to find the best representative from the company.
  • Brush up on the following topics: Last year, the implementation of the GDPR was a major preoccupation. This year, expect discussions about artificial intelligence, voice, programmatic and, yes, the GDPR again.
  • Be considerate: From an exhibitor’s point of view, trade shows are draining, expensive affairs. Exhibitors are under pressure to make the most of their time and prove ROI. Be conscious of their time and aim for high-quality conversations and interactions.
  • Party—if you want: If you are below 30 (or maybe even 35?) and want to party-hop, then you’ve come to the right place. Most visitors prefer either OM Club, Online Marketing Rockstars or the official Dmexco party.
  • Book your rides in advance: Getting a cab in an acceptable time frame at Dmexco is usually wishful thinking.
  • Book your accommodation far, far in advance: It’s a good idea to book for 2019 as soon as you leave this year’s show.
  • Check out MediaMath’s booth: We’re at Hall 6.1, Aisle D, No: D041!


Connected TV Plays To Upper And Lower Funnel Metrics: MediaMath’s Fisher

July 20, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Mike Fisher joined MediaMath almost a year ago to head up our video and Advanced TV and video efforts. He recently sat down with to talk about the space and what MediaMath is doing to position itself to capitalize on these channels in the years to come. An excerpt from his interview is below.

While connected TV definitely is the “low-hanging fruit for what we’re doing at MediaMath today,” within three to five years all linear impressions will become one-to-one addressable and targetable through the rise of IP video, “so we want to be well positioned to be able to play in that space as well.”

MediaMath doesn’t buy or arbitrage TV inventory. Rather, it sees itself as the connection point between buyers and sellers, according to Fisher.

“We’ve curated our list of supply sources that we do most of our transactions with down to, say, the top twenty percent of supply sources that drive eighty percent of the meaningful impressions that marketers are looking for,” he says.

Those sources include five network groups and three big virtual MVPD services in a fraud-free environment. “We’re never more than one hop away from the end seller,” Fisher adds.

MediaMath’s pitch to traditional TV buyers is one of reach and frequency and how they can shift a portion of their spend “to the same inventory and the same viewer model and the same screen they know how to buy but doing it in a smarter, more measurable way.”

The company tells the same story to digital buyers but with a twist since they already know how to buy audiences, measurable impressions and retargeted campaigns. “For the first time, a digital buyer has the ability to transact on the biggest most trusted screen in the house in a way that they know how to do and in a way that fits into their business model.”


Unlocking the Full Potential of Programmatic via Customized Technology Solutions

July 19, 2018 — by Wade Ware0


To get the best performance from programmatic marketing, it often requires integrating two or more distinct platforms to enable unified campaign execution. Additionally, every company has unique business processes that can make it difficult and costly to adopt off-the-shelf technology into its daily operations. Getting the desired benefit from an enterprise technology platform often requires customized service to ensure the solution meets the unique needs of the business.

Bridging these gaps is why we created MediaMath Technology Solutions, or TechSol, one of the five professional services that we announced in May. TechSol works across three different areas of technical consulting and custom solution development: Business Process Automation, Technology Integration and Product Customization. Business Process Automation solutions help our clients to embed our technology deeply into their existing business processes to minimize repetitive tasks and increase the efficiency of operational teams. Technology Integrations, among other benefits, enable clients to pull together actionable data from across the enterprise to amplify their marketing efforts and drive greater business outcomes. In some situations, TechSol also enables customization of our product suite to solve specific challenges.

Our TechSol consultants are experts in the MediaMath platform who help our clients to maximize their investment in our technology by discovering each client’s unique business objectives, current challenges and criteria for success, while identifying potential solutions before aligning on the best path forward.

A closer look

What does this mean in practice? Consider these client success stories:

  • A concert promoter cuts time to launch a tour by 99 percent: A North American concert promoter wanted to increase ticket sales for nationally promoted tours and also let affiliate tour operators launch promotions for local shows on a self-service basis. In this case, the client needed to enable rapid, automated translation and onboarding of its proprietary media planning template into MediaMath’s demand-side platform to scale up tour promotion launch velocity. The TechSol team worked to do this by reducing the need for manual data entry (which had been executed via an order form). The concert promoter launched 192 new tours in two months, onboarding more than 1,400 new campaigns and $1.7 million in media spending. In the process, it cut the time to launch a tour by 99 percent over the manual process, saving more than 2,550 hours.
  • An online gaming operator cuts campaign optimization time by 60 percent: Similarly, a UK-based online gaming firm wanted to save employee hours by automating a large portion of its standard campaign optimization process. In particular, the client wanted to reduce the time traders spent executing weekly pacing changes. TechSol’s solution let them apply scheduled changes in bulk and provided granular control to adjust multiple pacing levers. After initiating those scheduled changes, the client reduced the time needed for campaign optimizations by 60 percent.
  • A consumer packaged goods company increases audience insights by 20X. A global CPG giant wanted to supplement its first-party data to get a more comprehensive view of its potential audiences. In this case, TechSol integrated the client’s native video supply partner and DMP to activate a proprietary data-sharing agreement. User interaction data sent to MediaMath on bid opportunities from publishers in the partner’s video marketplace were categorized by standard IAB contextual classifications and exposed within the client’s DMP. In just a week, TechSol scaled the volume of data processed through the integration by 20X to over 130 million bid opportunities per day, resulting in over 14 million unique user data points provided to the CPG to power deeper consumer insights.

These are just a few examples. TechSol is working with many other clients to extend MediaMath technology to maximize business impact—the proof is in the results.