TechBytes with Krish Sailam, SVP of Global Programmatic Solutions, DWA, A Merkle Company

MarTech Interview with Krish Sailam, SVP of Global Programmatic Solutions, DWA, a Merkle Company
TechBytes with Krish Sailam, SVP of Global Programmatic Solutions, DWA, A Merkle Company

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at DWA, a Merkle Company.

I am the Global SVP of Programmatic Solutions at DWA. My role consists of a few things, including setting the vision for the B2B programmatic service line at DWA, helping clients identify strategic programmatic opportunities in terms of media and tech stack integrations, and managing external partners. We have an awesome team of programmatic traders in each of our international offices that are hands-on in each of our primary DSP consoles. As an aside, we are always looking for strong programmatic trading and strategy talent!

How much has the advertising technology landscape evolved in the last two years?

From my vantage point, evolution and change are constants in the AdTech space. There is always something new to learn and experiment with. We are seeing more traditional channels adopt programmatic technology. Many of our clients have invested in Data Management Platforms (DMPs) or Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and we are seeing regulations create change as well. We are also witnessing advancements in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is great to see both pull and push forces creating the change in the industry.

How do you leverage your expertise in Programmatic Technologies at DWA?

We try to advocate for a programmatic-first strategy with our global clients that is rooted in a customer experience methodology. Making sure clients utilize programmatic across the entire consumer journey is important — in other words, leveraging always-on brand and retargeting campaigns is essential.

We also advocate strongly for the coordination of programmatic with key digital channels such as paid search. There are great opportunities to retarget or suppress across these channels. Many of our clients already have a DMP and we usually find it helpful to leverage first-party data with advanced look-a-like modeling tactics.

Outside of the day-to-day tactics, we provide frequent point of view documents and innovation sessions with our clients to ensure we are architecting solutions for the long term.

What makes DWA, a Merkle Company, different from other Programmatic Advertising and data analytics companies?

DWA offers a few key strategic differences that help set us apart. First, we are truly global, meaning that we operate in each major region for our global clients. Second, we take a portfolio approach to our AdTech partners. We get to see the latest and greatest across the top-tier partners in the space, enabling us to recommend the best solution for each business need.

Third, we can leverage the larger Dentsu Aegis Network for media buying and sister agency capabilities. This enables us to do way more than just media services for our clients. We can easily bring in solution consultants for any type of technical integration. Fourth, we have depth of experience in both B2C and B2B clients, which helps when our brands represent both customer models.

Lastly, DWA is one of the few agencies that has a true in-house Machine Learning and AI practice. We are on the forefront of this field and helping to define the landscape.

Which businesses are better suited to benefit from leveraging your programmatic capabilities?

DWA’s portfolio of clients is almost 100% B2B companies. We will remain focused on B2B as we further develop our programmatic capabilities.

Where do all the data analytics about DSPs and RTBs point at? How do prepare for the various disruptions erupting within the industry?

If you look at the macro signals in the programmatic industry and the ad industry, in general, I think we are seeing a few key trends that may lead to disruption.

  • Machine learning/Artificial Intelligence: The stronger platforms are investing heavily in the next generation of automation. There is a surplus of data available in the market and it is too much for any human to decision against. ML and AI are needed to utilize that data in a more real-time manner. I think you will see more platforms offer ML and AI features and invest in hiring specialists and data scientists to augment these companies’ product roadmaps.
  • Auction Dynamics and Supply Chain Optimization: There is a lot of complexity in the current programmatic supply chain that is leading to inefficiency, opening up room for fraud, and is essentially taxing the ecosystem. We are seeing a movement towards new auction models like first price or programmatic guaranteed as well as ways of blending these models with regular 2nd price auctions. With these new models there’s more insight into ways we can shorten the supply chain and reward the publishers in a greater way. I think you will see continued improvement to the Open RTB protocol as well as new bidding engines at the DSP level to help find the most efficient way of buying a specific impression once identified.
  • 5G: This is going to be the paradigm shift for our industry in the next 18-24 months. Once 5G starts to take root, you will see a titanic shift in user behavior, with a new class of users, including cord and ISP cutters (people with no wired home internet). 5G will not only enable more consumption of content it will also increase the generation of high-quality, long-form content across video, AR, VR and live streaming. All of this will provide the ad industry with a massive new set of advertising inventory and data signals.

The mobile carriers will become the oligarchs of the ad industry, especially the ones that focus on vertical tech stack integration, wireless infrastructure, and content generation. You may also see key retailers adopt walled gardens as well, with a similar vertical integration approach.

The other potential scenario might be related to advances in chips with AI. This could signal the rise of pocket-held neural nets that actually flip the entire ecosystem upside down. This would essentially enable a decisioning on your phone, enabling total control of your data.

Which start-up ideas and companies are you keenly following?

There are a few industries and companies that I am keeping tabs on at the moment:

Blockchain: This space is booming and you are starting to see larger brands start to adopt key blockchain technologies to help with security, payments, investments, supply chain management and a host of other interaction points.

ML/AI: The use cases of ML and AI are so numerous it is hard to see an area, which will not be affected by these technologies. I am watching this industry closely since it will determine my own personal career potential; ML and AI stand to render programmatic trading jobs obsolete. Despite this, I love seeing how AI is starting to create things like art all by itself.

Amazon/Walmart: These two companies are changing brick-and-mortar retail experiences dramatically and will, therefore, control a variety of attribution signals. Combine this with their movement into video production, healthcare, and payment platforms, and you start to see the extraordinary potential of their tech stacks.

Tesla: Imagine how much more time you will have once your car is driving itself! Ultimately, I think people will start buying shares of a Tesla vehicle rather than the whole car. There will be higher quality cars coming out in the next two years but Tesla has a massive lead in terms of autonomous driving. Just like you call an Uber or Lyft now, you will call an autonomous car in the near future. This change will represent a whole new media consumption time and once again rich data signals in terms of consumer behavior.

T-Mobile: If T-Mobile can get the pricing right for their 5G plans, they will play a massive role in moving people away from other ISPs and expedite the advancement away from traditional linear non-time shifted TV.

Nintendo: They constantly amaze me in terms of how they create amazing user experiences. Not a start up by any means, but Nintendo makes advanced technology such as Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) very accessible to the masses.

Canopy/Aurora: The old adage was that the porn industry created a lot of innovation in the digital space. I think the marijuana industry could be the new harbinger of innovation. Marketing marijuana requires a totally new banking platform, certainty with audience targeting, and innovation. Marijuana marketers need new channels on which to advertise, and they need to consider a true lifetime value approach. You will see these companies go from basic growers to companies that are built upon advanced ML and AI, both for advanced consumer experiences as well as for optimized farming output.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Krish brings a rare mix of skills that includes both client services as well as product strategy. He considers himself a liaison between the external world and the internal groups. His experience across, EMEA, APAC and the US with B2C and B2B clients allows him to ramp up quickly and create a positive impact from day one. He is a true believer in the fact that advertising will always be a mix of technology as well as psychology.

Although he has lived in a variety of amazing cities in the world, he still thinks NYC Pizza is the best pizza around. When the robots take over, Krish plans on making photography or carpentry his full time job.

DWA

DWA, a Merkle Company, is a global media and marketing agency for technology companies. With its feet in media and its head in data and analytics, DWA has a fascination with the art and science of engaging people. That’s why you’ll find us at the intersection of media, technology and strategic marketing. Operating from eleven offices around the world covering North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific, DWA offers a range of services such as programmatic media, marketing automation, account-based marketing and content marketing consulting – all for hundreds of the world’s best technology companies.

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