MarTech Interview with Max Nelson, VP of Marketing Communications at OpenX

Programmatic ad innovations are set to grow further to help marketers and advertisers deepen their online impact and create better ad experiences for end users; Max Nelson, VP of Marketing Communications at OpenX joins MarTech Series for a quick chat to discuss a few top adtech trends:



Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Max. How has your year at OpenX as VP MarComm been?

It’s been a good year at OpenX! We’re doing great work on the product/tech side, we’ve ramped up hiring, particularly around our sales team, and just generally speaking, we’re seeing really nice growth as a business.

From a marketing perspective, we entered 2021 with a lot of unanswered questions about what the “new normal” looks like post-COVID, but I think we’ve settled into a nice rhythm. From events, to just figuring out the best way to reach and engage our clients, I think we’ve answered a lot of the questions we had, and we now have a nice foundation to build on next year, even as we still aren’t fully back to pre-COVID life.

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Tell us a little bit about the recent innovations / updates to the OpenX platform?

We’re always updating and improving our core exchange product, and this year has been no different, but I think the most exciting areas of innovation are around a product we call OpenAudience that is centered around our data and identity graph. We’ve built out some really interesting use cases for both publishers and marketers, and have come up with solutions to help both sides of our business use their 1P data, which we believe is meeting a real need in-market. We’re seeing great traction, and I’m excited to continue scaling this part of our business.

Programmatic advertising trends are changing to meet different business and user dynamics: what are some of the biggest trends and observations you’ve been following through 2021?

Two main trends that I would call out:

First, we’re of course seeing more and more interest in CTV. This is not a new trend, but it’s something that COVID accelerated, and for omnichannel exchanges like OpenX, having a CTV solution is now a necessity.

Second, we’re seeing increased interest in using first party data, both from marketers and publishers. As the industry prepares for the death of the cookie and other legacy identifiers, many businesses are looking at 1P data as a critical part of their strategy, and even though Google delayed the deprecation of the cookies in Chrome, our clients know that this is something we collectively need to figure out ASAP.

A few thoughts on the future of programmatic advertising and how the adtech market will evolve to keep pace with changing user and business needs?

I’m of course very bullish on programmatic advertising. Even when global ad spend dropped significantly last year, programmatic was growing, and I don’t see this slowing down. In terms of keeping pace with the changing digital consumer, ad tech has always found a way to evolve. Whether this has been navigating a shift to mobile, building out video businesses, CTV, changing regulations, or countless other things, ad-tech has reinvented itself time and time again, and always found a way to push forward. I’m sure that’s set to continue…

How do you feel AI will drive further impact here?

AI and ML will definitely play a role in ad-tech and programmatic advertising going forward. Speaking from experience at OpenX, our infrastructure is built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and that gives us access to a lot of advanced AI/ML tools that our team is building on. We’re doing a lot of really interesting things there and there is a lot more to come.

Some last thoughts and marketing-advertising / martech and adtech takeaways before we wrap up?

I’m excited about all of the collaboration we’re seeing in the ad-tech space. Whether this is something like Prebid, where we have this incredibly important and powerful piece of technology all built by different member companies, to various partnerships being announced in the space, I feel like ad-tech companies are working with one another to drive better solutions for publishers and marketers, and this collaboration is going to lead to a better, higher quality ecosystem in the end.

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OpenX helps solve a fundamental issue for brands: how to reach consumers, at scale, in a fragmented media environment.

Max Nelson is the VP of Marketing Communications at OpenX

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