Interview with Ian Lowe, CEO, Adslot
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to join an advertising trading platform?
I’ve worked in media and media technology for 25 years. My first exposure to the industry was planning and buying media for a large multinational advertiser. This pre-dated the internet but even then, the lack of any meaningful automation was staggering. A few years later I worked publisher side, and was exposed to the same problem from a different perspective. Nearly 20 years into the digital media journey, online display advertising has become an $80b global market, however the majority of this ($50b+) still trades via an almost entirely manual process. The inefficiencies created are extraordinary, and have limited the industry’s ability to realize both the promise of digital (superior campaign effectiveness) and the growth trajectory of display segment generally. Solving this problem with purpose built automation that benefits buyer and seller can deliver enormous structural benefits on a global scale…this feels like a vision worth chasing.
MTS: How has the digital campaign lifecycle evolved with the advent of new ad formats and programmatic capabilities?
While the over-arching campaign lifecycle hasn’t shifted, the level of complexity within it has expanded exponentially. Some of this complexity is endemic and cannot be removed entirely, while other types of complexity can be eradicated via automation. Inventory volume in the digital-online world is dynamic, and a good example of how digital is more complex in a way that touches almost every facet of every media transaction. Equally, therein lies the automation opportunity.
MTS: Data-driven or Data-informed— According to you, which of these offers a more sustainable revenue-model for AdTech customers?
Data informed recognizes that the role of data is to enhance judgement. This judgement may be algorithmic (RTB for example) or it may be human judgement. I believe our industry needs to pursue the automation opportunity in both these realms.
MTS: What are the major challenges for premium ad buyers and sellers in a highly disruptive digital media trading industry?
Campaign execution remains a massive issue for agencies and publishers and ultimately brands. I see it literally every day – strategic and tactical campaign decisions being constrained and defined by a broken, unscalable process. My observations tell me the bar is low, very low. The simplest of tactics are often abandoned as too hard, too time intensive or both.
MTS: How should brands determine the baseline to combat against issues confronting programmatic advertising and safeguards on such platforms?
Brands should focus their attention on creating media experiences that will captivate audiences. They should seek out solutions that help them move away from fraudulent and unsafe environments and that create opportunities for more of their media dollars to go towards working media and not technology fees. If brands consider this their baseline they will push their partners and vendors to support them and create these environments.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
The emergence of AI is fascinating and as we start to see the technology operationalized at scale over the next few years, possibilities are intriguing. I’m also interested to see adtech and martech coming together to create more holistic capabilities. It’s an area that presents some exciting innovation potential and something I’m watching closely.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We’re not a significant advertiser and so our marketing stack is more a shortlist of point solutions. However being a software development company we are reliant on a number of technologies including cloud and data technology right through to software engineering and collaboration tools, project management tools and as we move into audience enabled capabilities, DMP technology.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Firstly, I challenge the notion we are heading towards an AI centric world. The companies investing heavily in AI are all keen to paint the picture of a future where AI takes on a significant majority of otherwise human decisions. It all sounds a little reminiscent of the early years of RTB, where the zealots would have us believe that in the future we’d all by acquiring oxygen programmatically. Technology needs to solve problems or you can’t really commercialise it in a sustainable way.
That said, preparing for AI is like preparing for anything. Get involved.
This is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I’d be lost without Google Maps, literally. I’m terrible with directions.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Hire good people and let them run.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
The last book I read was Alice in Wonderland with my children. What a rush.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Take the time to understand something, then back your judgement.
MTS: Thank you Ian! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ian has 25 years media industry experience and 15 years managing high growth media and media technology companies, both privately held and publicly traded. Prior to joining Adslot, Ian was CEO of Facilitate Digital Ltd, where he launched Symphony – the world’s first workflow and trading platform for media agencies – and led the company’s international expansion into Asia, Europe and North America and ASX public listing in 2007. Prior to Facilitate, Ian was CEO of ad measurement company Traffion Ltd, and Managing Director of Red Sheriff Ltd, a global pioneer of web measurement technology. Ian has held management roles in a number of media and media agency organisations including PMP Ltd and George Patterson Bates.
Adslot is a leading global provider of Automated Guaranteed technology for premium online display inventory. Our vision is to automate the trading of media and to bring scale and efficiency to the digital media marketplace. To achieve this, we bring buyers and sellers together through our unique philosophy of openness, partnership and interoperability.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.