TechBytes with Sergio Serra, Senior Product Manager of Supply and Programmatic at InMobi

TechBytes with Sergio Serra, Senior Product Manager of Supply and Programmatic at InMobi
TechBytes with Sergio Serra, Senior Product Manager of Supply and Programmatic at InMobi

Could you tell us about your role and responsibilities at InMobi?

I’m the Product Manager for the SSP strategic business unit, and I have been at InMobi for almost five years. I manage the InMobi Exchange and our core supply products at InMobi, and I sit on the IAB Open Measurement and OpenRTB Working Groups. Prior to InMobi, I worked with different companies in the online space where I contributed to the product strategy and codebase.

For those who are new to the industry, could you tell us about sellers.json and its impact on Programmatic media buying?

Sellers.json works as an equivalent of app-ads.txt for SSPs, showcasing precisely what sellers SSPs work with and in what relationship. This ensures that non-authorized parties are not inserting themselves into transactions. Considering that issues around transparency have long dogged programmatic media buying, this is a huge step forward in making programmatic more trustworthy, transparent and open – and thus less prone to fraud.

How does InMobi Marketing Cloud align with sellers.json standards? 

We have always prioritized transparency, and are proud to be one of the first major mobile SSPs to release its own sellers.json file. We were also part of the group within the IAB Tech Lab that helped to develop this standard.

Let’s look at the sell-side for a minute. Why is it important that publishers only work with or consider intermediaries who are completely compliant to initiatives like app-ads.txt, sellers.json or supply chain object?

It all comes back to trust and transparency. For publishers, it’s critical to work with partners that are accurately representing their inventory and thus providing them with the greatest possible value. When publishers work with partners that are willing to be totally transparent in how they work and who they work with, they can then know that their inventory is being properly represented and valued in the marketplace.

How about the demand-side? What are the immediate steps to be taken by the buy-side partners to ensure they are in sync with these initiatives?

The key step on the buy-side is to only work with SSPs that have sellers.json in place and to only buy inventory that has an app-ads.txt file. This needs to be a firm position. When advertisers commit their dollars to these transparency initiatives, you can bet the rest of the industry will fall in line.

At this point, DSPs have the responsibility to mandate such standards to their SSP partners. Only if the big demand players align towards these new specifications can such tools really be the needle mover.

Are there any immediate challenges that you foresee in adoption on the demand side?

DSPs need to build support for the new specifications, so some investment is needed from their end. The actual challenges I see are more on the SSPs’ side. Historically, some SSPs have not been transparent and the lack of adoption from all of them might slow down this whole migration to a more transparent ecosystem. However, the good news is that such players will eventually need to adopt the new specifications or will be pushed out of the business.

Finally, with these initiatives underway, Supply Path Optimization (or SPO) will no longer be a buzzword? Is that a fair statement?

I do not think SPO will ever go away as a topic and honestly, this would mean for the ecosystem to expose itself to new risks. I like to think all the initiatives we have been working on along with IAB will lead to a world where SPO will simply be taken for granted and each buyer will have full visibility into the supply chain and be able to take educated calls on where to allocate budgets.

What kind of MarTech-AdTech integration are we seeing with InMobi’s Marketing Cloud for media buying customers?

One of the areas we’re most excited about is the application of InMobi Pulse data in the media buying process. InMobi Pulse builds a holistic understanding of consumers across data sources ranging from the InMobi ad exchange, which reaches 1.6 billion users globally, to permissively-sourced deterministic first-party carrier data (stemming from our 2018 acquisition of Pinsight Media) to stated feedback directly from the customers. We’re already seeing great results from leading brands using the insights gleaned from InMobi Pulse to more effectively understand, identify, engage and acquire their target consumers.

Can you identify some potential roadblocks that content owners, publishers, and advertisers should expect when they decide to invest in a Programmatic Ad Buying system?

Transparency is still the common point of concern for all the stakeholders. With specific focus on in-app, we do see some additional challenges mostly related to the absence of cookies and a lack of knowledge on how to use viewability tags compared to desktop.

From a tech perspective, how do you compete with and train new ad tech professionals in the industry? From whom do you draw your inspiration and energy?

All of us at InMobi are customer-first, and that’s hugely important. Everything we do is with our clients in mind. How can we be doing better by them so they can see better results? I’m also always inspired and energized by my co-workers around the world and their ideas.

Sergio is a Product Manager for the SSP strategic business unit and has been at InMobi for almost five years. He manages the InMobi Exchange and most of the supply products at InMobi.

Prior to InMobi, Sergio worked with different companies in the online space where he contributed to the product strategy and codebase. With more than five years of experience working in ad tech, Sergio sits on the IAB Open Measurement and OpenRTB Working Groups. Sergio holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics at Bocconi University in Italy and got his Master’s in Business at HULT Business School in San Francisco. He is a tireless programmer passionate about philosophy and statistics.

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InMobi is the world’s leading Marketing Cloud, driving real connections between brands and consumers. We create new paths for brands to understand, identify, engage and acquire consumers by leveraging our exclusive access to mobile intelligence and technology platforms.

As a leading technology company founded in 2007, InMobi has been recognized as a 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 company and as Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Companies. For more information, visit inmobi.com.

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