TechBytes with Dr. Mark Grether, CEO, Sizmek

Dr. Mark Grether

Dr. Mark Grether
CEO, Sizmek

Dmexco 2017 witnessed a confluence of digital professionals, marketing leaders, and data science experts from all over the world. The message at the event was clear:  Explore new opportunities within the realm of advertising and focus on transparency independently. Following Sizmeks’ recent acquisition of Rocket Fuel, the programmatic landscape now boasts of a formidable force that delivers a unified integrated, full-funnel solution for agencies and their brands. Sizmek customers can now leverage Data Hub and the combined power of RocketFuel’s Predictive Marketing Platform’s Decision Engine to address key performance objectives across paid, owned and earned media.

We spoke to Dr. Mark Grether, CEO of Sizmek, to understand how he sees his company improvising its programmatic capabilities and what fuels the advertising industry forward into the future.

MTS: Tell us about your role at Sizmek and how you got here?
Dr. Mark Grether: I’ve been Executive Chairman at Sizmek for close to 9 months, and was recently named CEO with our acquisition of Rocket Fuel. I came to Sizmek with the goal of developing technologies that empower clients’ use of data to not only inform media placement, but to also ensure the delivery of creative that makes an impact on the consumer. Spearheading strategic direction, and growth through the development of new tech, had been my focus in prior roles at some of the world’s largest media agencies, such as GroupM and Xaxis. At Sizmek, I’m focused on providing our clients with solutions that help their data, creative, and media work together across the entire media plan.

MTS: How does Cross-DSP Frequency Capping help ad buyers to illustrate a holistic user focused picture of media plans?
Dr. Mark Grether: Advertisers’ media plans are complex, as they contain several insertion orders (IOs) from numerous providers. While all these IOs result in a wealth of data, it’s highly fractured, making it exceptionally difficult for ad buyers to make informed decisions about who, when, where and how audiences should be engaged. This is precisely where cross-device frequency capping is effective, as it enables brands to maintain ideal ad exposure for each consumer, across the entire media plan.

As for Sizmek in particular, we serve as the central hub for all pre- and post-bid data aggregation as an ad server, so we’re particularly well positioned to allay inefficiencies. The Cross-DSP Frequency Capping Solution helps ad buyers make holistic buying decisions across multiple IOs that are part of the same media plan. Through Data Hub, they can create segments that include the required frequency cap, such as users who have seen an ad with 100 percent viewability in the past two weeks at least two times. Once created, the client activates these segments across all relevant DSPs. Ad buyers can use these segments to target or stay away from, these audiences.

The overall result is less wasted media impressions and dollars, as a user is not exposed to the same ad across different media providers.

MTS: What will media buying look like in 2020? How much of that would be a result of Cross-DSP Frequency Capping?
Dr. Mark Grether: The number of screens audiences are exposed to will continue to grow exponentially, as the Internet of Things takes hold and the number of connected devices they interact with increases. As a result, Cross-DSP Frequency Capping will become increasingly more important as we move forward, and ideal ad exposure should be top of mind for agencies and advertisers looking to optimize their media campaigns. As more and more key players in the industry start thinking about smarter targeting, those who figure out the window of optimal frequency that must be reached to garner the best ROI will have a leg up in the competitive marketplace.

MTS: You had recently talked about the ‘walled garden’. How should advertisers gain maximum value from their media buying in such an ecosystem?
Dr. Mark Grether: Agencies and brands will continue to work with “walled gardens” as they afford massive potential for reaching targeted audiences. So the issue facing the advertising industry today is how best to work with these companies, and around challenges posed with regard to measurement, data management and planning. The answer for marketers lies in technologies that sit on top all environments, walled and non-walled alike. That way, agencies and brands can access a seamless workflow to manage their entire campaign from a single entry point, and are granted the flexibility to be able to use a DMP to fuel even more effective targeting.

Additionally, there is a lot of room outside walled gardens where media buying can take place, and agencies are looking for those alternatives to Facebook, Google, and Amazon. It will continue to remain true that audiences do not access content through a single channel, so opportunities will find them beyond those walls and will continue to be plentiful.

MTS: How would a frequency capping tool impact the programmatic experiences along the customer journey?
Dr. Mark Grether: With cross-device frequency capping, the consumer experience can be greatly improved, across devices. This technology enables brands to do an even better job in reaching audiences with the right message on the right screen at the right time, providing them with the ability to really tell stories through their content, as creative is sequenced and served dynamically depending upon the consumer’s stage in the interaction. It’s more important than ever for brands to have one-on-one conversations with audiences to deliver on the promise digital advertising holds.

MTS: Are brands exposing their programmatic data too much in a bid to optimize media campaigns? How does Sizmek deliver brand safety to brands that are at highest risk to ad frauds and inaccurate metric?
Dr. Mark Grether: Sizmek ensures our clients get the best return for their advertising investment through our brand safety, verification and viewability solutions. In addition, we offer clients access to page-level contextual data, which helps ensure their ads will not be seen alongside unsavory content.

MTS: How do you see AI/ML technologies improving the cross-channel measurements and attribution models? How deep is Sizmek into AI/ML?
Dr. Mark Grether: The ability to anticipate what consumers will react to and engage with is a boon for advertisers that can be attained when AI is applied to real-time decisioning. There is a real need for a player who brings together all the different data assets from the different dimensions. In time, the focus will shift to being able to use AI in the execution of data assets across different channels. AI has the potential to bring you closer to media outlets where you want to reach your consumers.

The acquisition of Rocket Fuel will enhance Sizmek’s market position, as we are bringing together two companies that have very complementary technologies and strengths. Combined, Sizmek and Rocket Fuel bring data enablement, creative optimization, and AI-enabled media execution together to provide clients with the unparalleled ability to maximize campaign performance. This includes the ability to bring together the most vital data components—the campaign, consumer, context, creative, and cost—all on a global scale.  The deal reinforces our leadership position as we create the largest independent buy-side platform in the world, and provides a strong foundation for Sizmek’s future growth.

MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Mark.
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