MarTech Interview with Bosko Milekic, CTO and Co-Founder at Optable

Bosko Milekic, CTO and Co-Founder at Optable discusses the story behind Optable’s launch and a few key trends impacting the adtech ecosystem in today’s B2B marketplace:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Bosko, tell us more about Optable and its journey so far, what inspired the launch of the platform?

After my partners and I sold our previous company (AdGear) in 2016, we were fortunate to have been involved in building a fast growing connected TV advertising platform. We experienced first hand the power of connecting personal data effectively to power content personalization and advertising. We also witnessed some of the challenges of data collaboration between companies when it comes to personal data, particularly when user identifiers are not widely available. In many ways this experience was a glimpse of what we’re now seeing is becoming the reality beyond just connected TV.

The next era in data collaboration for advertising is marked by the erosion of global identifiers (such as third party cookies and IDFAs), as well as the proliferation of personal data and privacy legislation around the world. As personal and private audience data is increasingly recognized as being sensitive, organizations need better ways to ensure the privacy and security of their private data assets, even as they connect it with their partners to drive insights and effective advertising.

We founded Optable to address this fundamental shift in how data is governed, connected, and used. We provide technology that allows companies to securely collaborate around their  audience data.

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What are some of the core trends and changes to today’s adtech ecosystem that you’d like to highlight – especially points that marketers need to be keeping in mind for the future as they move to a cookie-less format?

The programmatic advertising ecosystem is being significantly disrupted. Forward-looking organizations that we work with are leaning into first party data, maintaining their data sovereignty as they do it, and looking for new ways of collaborating with their partners where they retain control of what and how information is exchanged.

The addressability of ad inventory has been declining over the past few years as more browsers deprecated third party cookies. Now, this is about to accelerate, with important consequences for everyone involved: less global addressability, more difficulty in quantifying ROI.

For marketers, these changes represent the need to adapt by leaning into new ways to collaborate around their first party data. While privacy sandboxes will offer an alternative approach to targeting and measurement, they are platform-specific and not available across all media channels. Direct collaboration with publishers and data providers through partnerships is something that marketers should pay more attention to moving forward.

How (and why) according to you should today’s advertisers and marketers be focusing more on first-party data, a few best practices to keep in mind?

Marketers are already concerned about the concentration of media spend with the dominant walled gardens. However, the trends at play also present an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on new data collaboration opportunities. 

As publishers and ad tech vendors are actively looking to maintain continuity for targeting and measurement, advertisers now have the opportunity to leverage their audience data without having to sacrifice control. 

What are some top predictions in mind for the future of adtech that you’d like to highlight?

The age of data sovereignty will usher in the age of fragmentation, as more companies than ever before will lean into first party data. 

We will have to build more bridges to ensure data connectivity between advertisers, publishers and ad platforms, and do it better: with transparency, control and respect for user privacy.

As the adtech ecosystem evolves, what are some core technical and analytical skills that marketers and advertisers of today and the near-future need to be honing?

Marketers should seek to understand the fragmentation of identity in advertising and the various emerging technologies that seek to fill in the gap left by the disruptions brought upon by the erosion of widespread ID sharing. Understanding data collaboration platforms, data clean rooms, privacy sandboxes, new personal ID sharing frameworks, and their similarities and differences will be essential in implementing effective advertising moving forward.

A few thoughts on the global adtech market and top innovators in your view that are changing the game?

We’re very bullish on ad tech, and we believe that the dominant walled gardens will continue facing headwinds. This presents an opportunity for the rest of the ecosystem — the opportunity to stitch back together the fabric that makes it possible to continue offering free content on the internet. Advertising remains the best micropayment mechanism that is universally available. It will therefore continue to be an important enabler of the open internet!

Some takeaways for marketing and tech leaders?

Many CEOs and CMOs that we speak to today have been promised by their vendors that everything will be OK, that the big privacy trends at play will be addressed by their solutions. 

In some cases this is true — but important turbulence is to be expected. Advertisers have invested heavily in data platforms over the past few years, and it is important to continue leveraging this data given the new reality.

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Optable helps innovative companies manage and securely connect their audience data.

Bosko is a seasoned technology entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience building and operating complex systems. He was a co-founder and CTO of AdGear, an advertising technology company acquired by Samsung Electronics in 2016 and is now CTO and Co-Founder at Optable, a SaaS data connectivity platform designed for the advertising ecosystem in the age of privacy. He has spent the last 15 years leading teams developing advertising and marketing technology products. Inspired by the radical transformation in how data is governed, connected, and used, Optable was built by veterans of the ad tech industry to address the need for a new generation of privacy-preserving data connectivity software. 

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