Why programmatic direct will dominate 2015: Sweeney

The president and CEO of Juice Mobile says business leaders should be upping their technical competency and cutting vendors as they head into 2015.
NeilSweeney

As one year closes and another one begins to rev up, MiC is asking industry leaders to look back on the events that changed their business in 2014 and predict the trends that will shape it in 2015. Next up is Neil Sweeney, president and CEO at Juice Mobile, who yesterday announced the launch of a new company, Freckle IoT , which will develop marketing applications for newer tech like beacons, wearables and mobile vending machines.

What 2014 event or trend had the biggest impact on your business?

The surfacing of fraud in the RTB ecosystem had the biggest impact not only on our business, but I think on advertising in general. I like to say that people really started buying programmatically in 2013, and in 2014 they started to understand what they were buying. In the case of fraud, they realized that a lot of what they were buying was not real.

How has your team changed the most in the past year?

It has become very technical. I thought this was the case as well last year but the mobile industry is accelerating, as are our ambitions, so developers, sales people, product staff and marketers all now require a technical competency to go along with a professionalism and business acumen. Basically we are looking for unicorns when we hire people!

What are the top three things those in the Canadian media business need to be paying attention to as we head into 2015?

Fraud: It is pervasive. Here is the question: How is fraud affecting your business? What are you doing about it? How do you capitalize on it? These are questions that need to be asked internally.

Stop benchmarking against Canada: There are way, way too many companies in Canada that think our country is a good benchmark for what is happening internationally. This is incorrect and it is exposing your business to too much risk. Just because it looks unique to Canada doesn’t make it unique in the industry.

Too often companies are comparing themselves to other Canadian companies when they should be comparing themselves to similar international companies. A TV company should not benchmark against Rogers, rather they should benchmark against CBS in the US or Prisa in Spain. An agency should not benchmark against another agency in Canada but other agencies internationally. The same goes for technology.

Cut your vendors and partners: Agencies are using way too many vendors. The end result is they are creating inefficiencies for themselves. This is a reflection of there being too many “relationship” vendors in the business and not enough guys that are providing true value. Focus on working with people that are bringing something new and of value to the table. Everyone else should be cut.

What is your prediction for the trend that will shape the media business in 2015?

I think programmatic direct (also known as direct deal and automated guaranteed) will be the largest trend in 2015 – I don’t think it is even going to be close. Here is why: there are three trends taking place in media. The first is automation, the second is mobile and the third is premium. Automation has started already with RTB buying.

Mobile will continue to accelerate and brands and publishers continue to realize that at some point in the next two years, 100% of their audience will be operating solely on this platform.

Programmatic direct will come to the forefront as the easiest way to deal with the fraud that has been generated in the first stage of automation. Steps toward this process are already happening as publishers create private exchanges (which facilitate real time buying but with the downside of non-guaranteed impressions), and most tech firms are trying to go up the funnel and get more premium. Programmatic direct gives advertisers more transparency into their campaigns with views of what they are actually purchasing and guaranteed impressions. It’s a win-win.