Pedro Gonçalves, Head of Digital at PHD MENA, is a seasoned Digital Marketing leader with over 16 years of global experience. Renowned for conquering challenges in Media, Technology, and Business, he boasts a successful track record in constructing multimillion-dollar operations.
In this exclusive interview, he generously shares invaluable insights, navigating from the intricate realm of programmatic advertising to addressing the intricacies of cultural nuances in the Middle East. A true visionary in digital transformation, Pedro illuminates the challenges and opportunities within the ever-evolving landscape, providing a sneak peek into the future of data-driven marketing.
Reflecting on your digital marketing career journey, how has the experience shaped your decisions in choosing professional paths? Can you share a pivotal decision and its impact on your trajectory thus far?
I’ve always enjoyed exploring and gathering early knowledge on emerging topics and trends. Shifting my focus from Offline Media to Digital happened naturally when I started my career. Looking back today, I’m very thankful to my younger self for prioritizing curiosity over stability.
There were a couple of pivotal moments in my career, but if I were to pick one, it would be when I embraced the challenge of building IPG’s Programmatic & Ad Tech specialized unit from the ground up in my home country, Brazil. It was the perfect storm: an exponentially growing practice, an abnormally fast-developing market, and the first time I oversaw an entire operation and P&L. This sharpened my views and practices on how to combine technical excellence, client focus, and business profitability until today.
With your extensive experience in digital marketing, what do you believe are the key trends shaping the industry in the Middle East currently?
The Middle East is rapidly adopting global trends, including the widespread experimentation of AI across both private and government sectors. However, there is a particular interest in advancing eCommerce and Media Quality measurement in the region, with brands allocating more of their budgets towards Retail Media and investing in Ad Verification/Attention technologies.
Due to historical challenges in obtaining data for the Middle East, brands naturally have a higher appetite for anything that can provide metrics to support their marketing efforts and demonstrate efficiency.
Another concurrent trend is the increased diversification of suppliers, influenced by the language factor, making room for local players and startups with specialized solutions.
In the Middle East market, cultural nuances play a significant role. How do you navigate cultural nuances and tailor digital marketing strategies to resonate with diverse audiences?
From a marketer’s perspective, addressing multiple audiences in communication introduces various operational and cost considerations. My approach to this challenge involves establishing a primary focus on what unites our target audiences, rather than emphasizing the factors that set them apart. The next step is to map relevant pockets of opportunity that require specific and customized approaches.
This is where the importance of well-structured research becomes evident, as it remains the most effective way to uncover cultural norms and sensitivities that need to be integrated into the strategy. This includes language and dialect-specific messaging, as well as visuals that reflect population diversity and other segmentation techniques.
Can you share a memorable success story where your digital marketing strategies not only met but exceeded the expectations of stakeholders?
One of my all-time favorite projects is the work we undertook for the relaunch of the AXE brand for Unilever in 2015. At a time when Programmatic and Dynamic Advertising were still in their infancy, we managed to achieve massive personalization.
Featuring a modern Romeo & Juliet story, we meticulously crafted and distributed over 100,000+ long-form video ads, each tailored based on user audience behavior, engagement, and response data.
Through a process of radical collaboration among all parties, including the client, we developed a proprietary tech piece. This tech was fed with five master stories crafted by world-renowned directors, along with campaign performance data, enabling the continuous generation of unique long-form video ad variations served 100% programmatically. The outcome was a 1.7x higher retention rate and a 20% brand lift. The campaign garnered global recognition, industry coverage, and awards, prompting discussions with the client about replicating the model in future campaigns
In the context of Programmatic Media, how do you see the future of programmatic advertising evolving, and what challenges and opportunities do you anticipate?
The way I perceive it, the term “programmatic” will become redundant. When something evolves into the default standard, we refrain from labeling it as something unique and discussing it separately.
In its essence, programmatic signifies the use of automated technology to buy media. Examining our progression in understanding, its growth over the years, and forecasting into the future, it is poised to become the base and the majority of spending in our industry.
While the possibilities available through programmatic methods are getting bigger, with the rapid assimilation of other digital environments like Connected TV and even non-digital environments, fraud remains a formidable challenge. The more adept we become at detecting it, the more fraud diversifies, especially in emerging formats. An often overlooked advantage is the establishment of a centralized repository for brand activity data. This organized information, readily available within programmatic platforms, replaces unreliable manual spreadsheets and presentations.
In the ever-expanding landscape of MarTech and AdTech, how do you evaluate and select the most relevant technologies for your digital marketing stack, and what criteria do you prioritize in making these decisions?
I focus not only on comprehending the value proposition of each new technology and how to seize the opportunities within it but also closely monitor how users are reacting to it. This involves assessing if it is skewing towards a specific audience group, checking for overlap and audience fragmentation, and, more importantly, ensuring brand safety and suitability in a way that applies to the new platform.
With an expanding array of options at our disposal, the complexity of how we plan, craft, and perfect connections with customers increases. To counter this, it is crucial to have a dedicated framework that enables brands to be nimble in exploring fast-paced trends and avoiding pitfalls amidst ongoing changes with each partner, all while maximizing the use of algorithmic learning.
It is also imperative to assess if new players can bring robust capabilities and diversified options in terms of formats and targeting, capable of driving results across distinct stages of the consumer journey. This enables us to swiftly categorize natural tendencies and well-established roles for each.
Looking ahead, what do you see as the next big frontier or challenge in the digital marketing landscape, and how do you plan to address it?
Privacy and data collection have become the most debated challenges recently, leading us to the next one: Addressability. Over the past years, marketers have heavily invested in collecting, cleaning, and categorizing data, enabling them to connect at will with specific audiences and customers. However, just one recent change implemented by Apple rendered a significant part of this asset unusable.
With the impending demise of third-party cookies, some organizations still believe they can continue using the same data practices, merely relying on a different type of technology. In my view, this is shortsighted and deviates from a real opportunity for the advertising industry: to offer new types of CRM solutions, grow revenues, and secure a stronger preferred partner position with brands.
Lastly, if your digital marketing approach were a puzzle, what pieces would represent the key elements, and how do they fit together to create a complete picture of success? What can be an answer to this?
To me, everything starts and ends with data.
Sourcing analytical data, such as market and customer research, cultural factors, media consumption, and other relevant types of information, would be my essential piece in this puzzle.
Next comes data analysis, making sense of the collected data, and transforming it into relevant and applicable insights for your context.
We then incorporate data-backed decisions, derived from the outputs of the data analysis, making your strategy distinctly yours and no one else’s. Following that is data-driven activation, where you bring strategies to life by translating all earlier steps into audiences, channels, signals, connections, journeys, and messages.
A data-led optimization ditches the guesswork, improves immediate results, and feeds the last piece: closed-loop data, using all the new info as a fresh, unique, ongoing, and growing analytical data source, thus empowering creativity.
Havas Group and SaaS company Mirakl have announced a global agreement in order to boost its retail and e-commerce media. Through platform innovation, Mirakl, a pioneering and top SaaS solution, helps organizations turn into digital enterprises. One of the biggest international communication networks in the world is Havas. Through the cooperation, clients of Havas Group will be able to use Mirakl’s services to market their goods on marketplaces run by Mirakl. Additionally, it presents the SaaS platform as a valuable ally in helping Havas customers establish and expand their marketplace.
Utilizing Mirakl’s distinctive AI-powered advertising technology tailored for marketplaces and e-commerce, the partnership will produce the most potent standalone retail media network for brands and merchants. Additionally, it will make use of the partnerships and clients of both organizations. With this collaborative offering, Mirakl will enable companies and brands to use its software to manage their dropship and third-party marketplace operations.
Building a retail media network
Retail media, according to Mirakl, enables businesses to make money off 97% of website visitors who don’t make purchases. By 2027, it will have opened up a brand-new market with a potential worth of over $160 billion worldwide. Retail media are advertisements displayed on both physical and digital platforms at the point of sale or at the point of preference between two brands. The international cooperation equips Mirakl and Havas clients with the resources they need to capitalize on retail media opportunities and seize this highly lucrative potential. It combines Havas Market, a full-service e-commerce platform, with the prestigious technology suite of solutions from Mirakl.
Retailers will be able to effortlessly monetize their consumers thanks to the new platform, which is brand-neutral. Without exposing their data, it will enable marketers to maximize the money they spend on digital advertising on e-commerce platforms. More than 400 businesses worldwide will have a choice of Mirakl Ads in all formats thanks to the new solution’s direct integration into the Mirakl suite. This will contain sponsored search banners that have been created to give users interesting, improved experiences.
Customers turn to digital
Through Mirakl Connect, Havas Market-sponsored brands will have direct, seamless access to the 400+ Mirakl markets. The tools and adaptable onboarding solutions created by Mirakl Connect will make it simple for these firms to manage and advance their e-commerce strategy across a number of Mirakl-powered marketplaces. Through a combined offer, Mirakl will be Havas’ preferred partner in assisting with the creation and expansion of marketplaces across its network of clients.
Retailers will be able to monetize their audiences with Mirakl Ads, the ad solution in the Mirakl suite. Furthermore, brands will be able to maximize their digital expenditures on e-commerce websites. The only marketplace-ready ad solution that is specifically designed for e-commerce is Mirakl Ads. With 200+ clients, it combines distinctive AI-powered technology with a strong global network of completely integrated buyers and sellers. It accounts for roughly 1.3 billion monthly visitors.
Here’s what they said
Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and CEO of Havas shared,
With Havas Market we’re committed to taking a holistic, customer-centric view of our clients’ businesses to find the best solutions to create meaningful shopping experiences for consumers and drive incremental revenue for brands across all sales channels. Enabling our clients’ retail transformation requires partnering with the leading providers in the industry, and with Mirakl we’re building a truly synergistic offering that will deliver growth for both our clients and our organizations.
Philippe Corrot, co-CEO & cofounder of Mirakl added,
B2B and B2C companies have no other choice but to further digitize their activities. Platform models such as marketplaces and dropship as well as Retail Media are among the strongest levers to generate new sources of growth and profitability. By joining forces with Havas, we will together accelerate the adoption of the platform models at a global scale for the benefits of Consumers, Operators and Third-party sellers. The strength of the network and the expertise of Havas and Mirakl combined will create a global leader in Retail Media extending the value creation for our common customers.
With novel closed-loop CTV targeting and measurement technologies, LG Ad Solutions and Affinity Solutions have formed a fresh relationship. While Affinity Solutions is the top provider of consumer purchasing information, LG Ad Solutions is a world leader in connected TV (CTV) and cross-screen advertising. The brand-new service, called LoopIQ, was specifically created to use purchase data to target the appropriate people in CTV settings while also assessing the effectiveness of campaigns at boosting consumer spending. The firms claim that the introduction of LoopIQ solutions is in response to growing calls for more precise targeting and concrete measuring techniques in the connected TV market.
Growth in CTV Advertising
Connected TV advertising gives ad tech stakeholders an admirable long-term opportunity by empowering brand advertisers to use data insights to improve ad targeting and campaign optimization. It is unique in that it combines the audience of conventional television with the accuracy and measurement of web advertising. Despite the fact that Connected TV currently only makes up a small portion of the programmatic market, CTV still receives more than $2 for every $5 spent on programmatic. CTV advertising has remained strong despite some collapse in the programmatic market in 2023, and analysts forecast that CTV will account for the majority of the market’s growth in the coming years.
Insights on LoopIQ
The powerful solution brings together LG Ad Solutions’ Connected TV advertising infrastructure and Affinity’s data analytics know-how. The firms also states that they are dedicated to pushing the limits of what is feasible in the CTV ad space. Furthermore, they want to provide more value to advertisers while improving viewer experiences. The launch of LoopIQ is expected to change how marketers approach CTV advertising. It will also look to establish new standards for ROI in the market. LoopIQ will combine purchase information with already-available tools. These include Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). It complies with privacy regulations, to give brands access to more accurate targeting and measurement outcomes. Additionally, the solution ought to support accurate audience optimization of advertising expenditures.
Here’s what they said
Tony Marlow, Global Chief Marketing Officer of LG Ad Solutions said,
The partnership between LG Ad Solutions and Affinity to launch LoopIQ marks a significant evolution in the CTV advertising landscape. LoopIQ’s unique capability to effectively link purchase data with ad targeting and measurement is set to revolutionize the way brands reach and resonate with their audiences in ad-supported streaming environments.
Damian Garbaccio, Chief Business & Marketing Officer of Affinity added,
We are thrilled to join forces with LG Ad Solutions on this groundbreaking endeavor. LoopIQ is a testament to our joint vision of harnessing exclusive consumer purchase data to craft more meaningful outcomes and efficient advertising experiences.
Moving Walls, the foremost provider of enterprise software for Out-of-Home (OOH) media, has revealed a strategic partnership with Place Exchange, a prominent supply-side platform (SSP) specializing in programmatic OOH media. This collaboration will grant Moving Walls OOH software users seamless access to Place Exchange’s extensive network of digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) inventory.
Moving Wall’s OOH software
Moving Walls’ OOH planning and purchasing software on the buy-side is widely adopted by brands and partners across key regional marketing hubs such as Singapore, Japan, India, Latin America, and the Middle East. A significant portion of these brands belongs to sectors like enterprise software, travel, tourism, and fintech, and they are actively extending their reach into emerging markets, including the Americas and Europe.
DOOH- an emerging medium
For these brands seeking an effective blend of awareness and performance marketing campaigns, Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) emerges as the optimal medium. This preference is attributed to its remarkable attributes, including heightened visibility, dynamic and timely content delivery, precision-targeted messaging, and its capacity for data-driven measurement. DOOH enables these brands to engage consumers across multiple touchpoints throughout their daily journeys with unparalleled efficacy.
Place Exchange provides programmatic access to a vast DOOH display network through global OOH media partners, covering various venues and formats. This inventory is now seamlessly integrated into Moving Walls’ buying platform, simplifying campaign planning and measurement for users.
And that’s what they said
Srikanth Ramachandran, Founder and Group CEO of Moving Walls said,
This type of partnership goes a long way to removing the friction of executing truly global DOOH campaigns.Many of our buy side partners are used to running multi-market advertising campaigns and DOOH remains the most impactful way of driving reach in a new market. With Place Exchange, our partners can now extend these campaigns into some of the most advanced DOOH markets.
Ari Buchalter, CEO of Place Exchange said,
We’re thrilled to introduce Place Exchange’s premium inventory to Moving Walls users and give our supply partners the opportunity to engage with more international advertisers. DOOH is a unique medium with sophisticated audience targeting and performance measurement capabilities on par with other digital channels, and we are excited to unlock these capabilities in new markets for global activations.
In an exclusive interview, we delve into a conversation with Shashidhar Sharma, the Head of Programmatic Pratice-India at Group M Nexus. With a career spanning over a decade, he is a seasoned veteran in the realm of programmatic advertising. Known for his remarkable achievements in crafting effective strategies, leading diverse global teams, and streamlining operations, he is a distinguished professional in the industry.
Tell us something about your journey and how your career has evolved since its inception?
With over a decade in programmatic, I’ve achieved recognition and awards, using my expertise for a meaningful impact. I transitioned from an IT background to digital marketing during my 8.5-year tenure at Google, refining my Programmatic understanding.
My unwavering curiosity drove me beyond singular channels, enabling me to master the marketing funnel across biddable platforms: Social, Search, and E-Commerce. Strategy became my lodestar, directing me towards leading important conversations, shaping market trends, and fostering innovation. My learning experience in India strengthened my sense of ownership in New Zealand, and the insights I gained in New Zealand infused strategic acumen and innovation into my programmatic journey in India. Navigating various markets, and working with different clients and partners, has been instrumental in honing my skills and greatly contributed to my journey of leading programmatic for the largest set of accounts within India’s GroupM holding group.
How has the shift towards a cookieless world impacted programmatic advertising strategies?
This has been a long-anticipated development, with Google reevaluating its approach, strategy, and implementation multiple times, leading to several revisions in the launch date. Nevertheless, the announcement itself shook the advertising industry. Throughout this process, GroupM remains dedicated to improving advertising for people and advocating for privacy-preserving solutions that support a healthy advertising ecosystem.
We also hold firm in our belief that collecting consumer-level data not directly provided to a brand will become increasingly challenging. Data and AI capabilities have progressed significantly, opening doors to innovative, alternative options. The current reliance on third-party cookies to uphold an open and free ad-supported internet, as well as the complexity of designing a solution that balances privacy and performance, is decreasing from a high/medium level to low. Having said that, we are committed to working closely with our partners at Google to ensure that industry and client perspectives are taken into account as solutions continue to evolve. Separately, we firmly believe that clients should continue to explore and prioritize the evolution of their technology and data strategies in preparation for when these changes ultimately take effect.
What role does artificial intelligence play in optimizing programmatic ad campaigns?
AI is the buzzword now. Everyone is tapping into AI and talking about Machine Learning to go with it. Considering the nature of programmatic, which allows the system’s algorithms to buy media for us based on our set of rules (targeting, budget, pacing, etc.), it makes a lot of sense to discuss AI in our everyday conversations.
At GroupM, we have been using AI and ML in our campaigns since 2021, and we have achieved exceptional results. This includes a case study that was presented at Oxford in the “use cases of AI in Digital Marketing” category. Based on my experience on the topic, I would say that using AI is beneficial, but the key is to know when to deploy it, what to optimize, and how to use the data for learning and insights. Simply using AI for the sake of using it can diminish its impact.
How can data clean rooms help brands navigate the cookieless world? What are the benefits and challenges of implementing them?
Please note that Data Clean Rooms are indeed useful, but they are only one of the tools in our arsenal to ensure advertising remains relevant after the deprecation of third-party cookies. The purpose of Data Clean Rooms is to curate and create “clean” data segments, which are accurate, up-to-date, and genuine. This is achieved by combining not only Advertisers’ first-party data but also cross-referencing it with sourced data.
This approach makes the curated segments very effective. However, it’s essential to understand that your new consumers may not have been logged or had their data captured yet. So, the strategy of using a Data Clean Room is effective but limited in its capacity. The overall strategy should encompass multiple approaches to reach an unknown user base while reinforcing the brand to the known user base. Achieving a broad reach is just as important as achieving definitive conversions, so you should plan for the entire sales funnel.
With extensive experience in the industry, what changes have you observed in the Programmatic buying landscape? How do you stay updated with the rapid developments in digital marketing technologies and practices?
My favourite statement in this context is: Programmatic went from being a ‘Problematic’ medium to a ‘Pragmatic’ medium now.
Programmatic began by dealing with inventory left unsold by publishers. Now, people have started to understand that the value of programmatic lies in its ability to integrate with multiple platforms, providers, and technologies, leading to significant growth in adoption. Although the general understanding is not ideal, it is in much better shape now. With the influence of BAV, Data, Ad Serving tech, measurement tech, and AI/ML entering the picture, the future indeed looks promising. Sustainability, transparency, and privacy are currently buzzwords, and I anticipate more changes on the horizon.
This brings me to the next point – these numerous changes may sometimes leave you feeling unsure of what’s happening. That’s where events, digital publications related to our industry, and conversations with programmatic leaders in our country become essential. I am an avid reader of many sites, including WARC, eMarketer, E4M, Campaign Asia, and AdWeek, among many others. You can also join LinkedIn Groups or subscribe to programmatic channels on Reddit to stay up-to-date.
Programmatic buying is known for its data-driven nature. How do you optimize data-driven insights in your programmatic campaigns, and are there specific tools or practices you rely on for this purpose?
It is never a cheat sheet or one-size-fits-all approach. Data makes decision-making easier, but it can lead astray if the wrong data points are emphasized. Yes, we use tools like ADH and dashboards to curate data and extract insights, especially for identifying optimization opportunities. However, it’s crucial to step back and eliminate inherent data bias. Sometimes, data can provide so many insights that it distracts from the campaign’s actual KPIs. While targeting a core group of users can impact ROI, we must also consider pacing.
Our approach to data involves keeping the campaign’s goals in mind while evaluating leading metrics and KPIs for campaign health. If data indicates that a specific audience segment is performing well, we target it and increase our focus. Still, we also monitor similar groups that may prove equally effective. Additionally, we assess the cost of buying impressions for that group, ensuring cost-effectiveness. Our optimization criteria encompass various elements, including audience availability, day/time, viewability, geography, demography, and contextual factors. The core approach remains adaptable, with insights and overall strategy guiding our optimizations, rather than merely relying on data availability.
Any learnings or advice you would like to share with the young professionals in the industry?
Many newcomers in our Programmatic field often switch roles and platforms. I would like to emphasize that learning a platform is not equivalent to mastering programmatic. It involves understanding how to utilize programmatic data effectively to craft flexible and impactful strategies. Focus on developing such strategies for better learning.
Furthermore, our industry is still relatively young and emerging from the shadow of traditional marketing. It will take time to establish a well-structured and organized approach, and all of you play a pivotal role in shaping this future. Your organizational skills and attention to detail are crucial for its growth and development.
The leading ad tech provider Adscholars has partnered with global gaming advertising leader iion. This collaboration aims to redefine the gaming advertising landscape in the Philippines amidst an industry boom, boasting a gamer population of 43 million, according to Newzoo. The partnership brings one-of-a-kind technology and programmatic-enabled gaming inventory solutions to the Philippine market. iion will scale immersive gaming solutions in this market, using Adscholars’ programmatic expertise. It will offer multiple activation options and unique experiences to connect with consumers on their preferred platforms.
The collaboration between Adscholars and iion arrives at a crucial juncture, as brands seek to reach the gaming audience in the Philippines. This partnership enables iion to utilize Adscholars’ market knowledge and brand collaborations, resulting in immersive and contextually fitting in-game, around the game and away from the game advertising encounters. iion’s immersiion is the first platform to connect game publishers and brands seamlessly across all digital worlds, providing a holistic targeting experience in-game, around the game, and beyond.
Gaming Boom in Philippine Market
Recent reports indicate that the Philippines is among the select group of five nations poised to emerge as a major gaming market within the Asia Pacific region. According to a comprehensive study conducted by Newzoo, a prominent provider of market intelligence within the gaming industry, the Philippines boasts a substantial gamer population of 43 million, with a projected growth rate of 14.3 percent spanning from 2020 to 2023. The growing popularity of online gaming in the country is driven by faster internet availability, more smartphone users, and the thriving eSports industry. The strategic partnership between Adscholars and iion places them at the forefront of innovative game advertising in the Philippines, ushering in a new era of industry growth amid the nation’s burgeoning gaming landscape.
Srikanth Rayaprolu, CEO of Adscholars said, “We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with iion, a prominent advertising platform that extends its reach across diverse gaming environments. As the gaming industry continues to flourish in the Philippines market, Ad Scholars, in partnership with iion Gaming, is set to provide brands with an exceptional opportunity to connect with gamers both within the gaming realm and in its periphery. This collaboration promises exciting creative possibilities that will actively engage your brand with this dynamic gaming audience.”
Yun Yip, iion’s Chief Commercial Officer says, “With AdScholars, we are poised to reshape the game advertising landscape in APAC. Our collaborative efforts and platform will empower brands and agencies to explore new ways of engaging with an ever growing audience, whilst delivering superior marketing outcomes in game advertising. A successful gaming strategy is a now possible, accessible and measurable”
The ad tech company Infillion was identified as the top contender to acquire the recently insolvent DSP MediaMath during bankruptcy proceedings on August 23. Given that the company was originally valued at $1 billion, the company’s winning bid of $22 million was a great deal. According to Digiday, MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadski’s investment fund company, AperiumVentures, provided advice on the acquisition. Additionally, he sparked the idea that the ad tech expert would try to get back in touch with the business he created more than 15 years ago. According to court records, Genius Sports, a London-based provider of sports data and video streaming, placed the second-highest bid for MediaMath assets for $20.55 million.
On June 30, MediaMath submitted a Chapter 11 petition. The DSP service provider has a new home thanks to Infillion’s acquisition. The Delaware bankruptcy court accepted Infillion’s cash offer for MediaMath’s DSP and DMP holdings on August 23. One of the ad tech stories this year has also been concluded by a bankruptcy filing. Dozens of businesses have lost money as a result of one of the most well-known names in ad tech’s Chapter 11 procedures. Some others even speculate about what it indicates for the most vibrant industry in digital media.
MediaMath has 16 years of experience in the ad tech sector. However, it has recently had trouble keeping up with rivals like Google, Amazon, and The Trade Desk. It was unable to collect the required cash despite seeking more money a while ago this year and almost concluding a $70 million deal with a possible acquirer. The upshot was that the business filed for bankruptcy, which unfortunately resulted in the loss of nearly 300 employees.
MediaMath was one of the early pioneers in ad tech. It is usually regarded as the very first DSP in the sector. Thus, MediaMath’s surprising Chapter 11 filing roughly two months ago is what prompted the sale. This dramatic tale comes to a close with Infillion’s acquisition as the company’s former customers left. For the latter, the Infillion-MediaMath merger represents a remarkable fall from grace. Infillion will provide a modest 2% of MediaMath’s peak value.
Infillion’s Acquisition of MediaMath
It makes sense for Infillion to include MediaMath in its ad tech portfolio. The location data business Gimbal and the video ad tech platform TrueX gave birth to the video advertising platform. It focuses on the interactive advertising units that Gimbal purchased from Disney. A year ago, Gimbal and TrueX changed their names to become Infillion.
The 15-year-old demand-side platform that MediaMath brings to the story will enable Infillion’s programmatic ad tech stack to take shape. However, the business revealed in its bankruptcy filings that it owed over $125 million in trade obligations to a number of corporations. They include Google, Microsoft’s Xandr, and ad tech firms including PubMatic and Magnite. What will transpire to these outstanding invoices is still up for discussion as Infillion might be interested in rekindling those ties. Infillion is yet to confirm the accountability for MediaMath’s outstanding debt.
Infillion’s founder and executive chairman, Rob Emrich, stated that the company anticipates MediaMath would be in a good spot to expand under new management. In the course of the auction on Wednesday, Emrich expressed his opinion that over the following five years, the MediaMath tech stack will produce $1 billion in inventory traffic, data fees, and hosting contracts.
Our current financial model calls for an additional $30 million There will be operating losses in the next three years as we bring this business back. Plus an additional $40 million In working capital.
In any case, Infillion seems certain that it can resurrect MediaMath’s advertising technology and start a new chapter. Whether the acquisition turns out to be profitable or a major oversight on Infillion’s part, only time will tell.
In a surprising and unforeseen development, MediaMath, a renowned programmatic advertising demand-side platform, has made the shocking announcement of its immediate shutdown, sending shockwaves throughout the advertising industry. This unexpected turn of events has left advertisers, agencies, and customers in a state of chaos as they urgently seek alternative solutions to fill the void left by MediaMath.
The Rise and Fall of Mediamath
MediaMath founded in 2007, is a trailblazer in programmatic advertising, revolutionized brand-audience connections with its advanced demand-side platform. By leveraging data-driven insights and real-time bidding decisions, MediaMath enabled precise audience targeting, efficient campaigns, and improved ROI. Through strategic partnerships and a commitment to transparency, MediaMath shaped the digital advertising landscape, earning a solid reputation in the industry.
Since its founding, MediaMath had raised over $600 million and boasted an impressive client base of 3,500 brands and agencies. However, the anticipated successful exit through going public or acquisition never materialized. To address financial challenges, MediaMath had to recapitalize with Searchlight Capital last year, resulting in the loss of equity for early shareholders, including co-founder Joe Zawadzki. Additionally, the company had an outstanding $150 million credit facility from Goldman Sachs. Despite rumors of potential acquirers such as IBM, Magnite, Amazon, Tremor, and IPONWEB, MediaMath struggled to find a suitable buyer.
It is expected to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This will result in asset liquidation to repay obligations. After settling wages and salaries, primary lender Goldman Sachs will be paid, followed by other creditors if there are remaining proceeds from asset sales. Most of MediaMath’s 300+ employees will lose their jobs, with a small team retained for essential functions during the bankruptcy process.
Impact on advertisers
The abrupt shutdown of MediaMath has caused significant upheaval among advertisers and agencies. These entities now face the daunting task of finding alternative platforms to relocate their ad campaigns, requiring substantial resources and adjustments. The loss of MediaMath’s tracking pixel has further compounded the challenges, hampering the ability to analyze user behavior and optimize future campaigns. The lack of prior notice has intensified the difficulties faced by advertisers and agencies, emphasizing the need for clear communication during times of distress.
In the meantime, the closure of MediaMath creates an opportunity for other DSPs such as The Trade Desk, or Google to step in and fill the void. The demise of the DSP is seen as a setback for the ad tech industry, and industry insiders express sadness over the company’s fate.
Omnicom has partnered with Google to integrate the search giant’s generative AI models into its ad tech platform. This collaboration marks the first commercial application of Google’s generative AI technology, which was previously not widely available. Through this integration, brands will gain access to generative text and image capabilities, enabling them to create dynamic and engaging content. This innovative partnership aims to enhance the creative capabilities of Omnicom’s ad tech platform and provide brands with new opportunities for personalized and impactful advertising.
Omnicom will leverage the capabilities of Google Cloud’s Vertex AI, specifically its foundation models such as PaLM 2 and Imagen. PaLM 2 is Google’s large language model for text and Imagen is similar to DALL-E, for generating images.Imagen allows organizations to generate and customize studio-grade images at scale from input text with low latency and enterprise-grade data governance.
Through seamless integration into their open marketing orchestration platform Omni, agencies and client teams will now have unprecedented access to these powerful models. This integration will enable expediting the content development process, providing enhanced efficiency and creativity.
Jonathan Nelson, CEO, Omnicom Digital said,
We’re thrilled to have another first-mover advantage with Google Cloud’s foundation models and to continue strengthening the use of Generative AI within Omnicom.
By creating Omni as an open operating system, we’re able to quickly integrate these innovative models and mobilize them to thousands of Omnicom employees that use Omni. We’re especially excited to see how Imagen will unlock greater inspiration for our people and elevate the ideas created for clients.
As reported by Adage, Nelson further mentioned that they are closely looking at the video. The models developed by Google were trained using “copyright-free” data. The issue of copyright has hindered the broader adoption of certain AI applications in marketing as agencies and brands have concerns about utilizing the material for which they don’t possess proper licensing.
Their version of Imagen is particularly interesting because it’s copyright-free which is a huge deal for us so it can be applicable to advertising.
June Yang, Vice President of Cloud AI and Industry Solutions at Google Cloud,
Our partnership with Omnicom deepens this commitment as it allows marketers to create studio-grade images with mask-free editing for any business need, in a platform where they are already familiar, with only a few typing prompts. We cannot wait to see what they create!
Adage reported Omnicom will train machines using data from brands’ entire marketing copy archives to develop custom AI models. Nelson introduced the concept of “data stacking,” where the agency combines its own data with clients’ data, specifically benefiting media and optimization. This approach enables the creation of proprietary products based on the developed models.
This partnership is the latest collaboration between Google and Omnicom, who have closely collaborated together for decades. This includes their early collaboration as an alpha partner for clean room integrations with Ads Data Hub.
Petal Ads, previously known as Huawei Ads, has teamed up with MMP World Wide (MMPWW) to expand its reach in international markets, particularly China. The partnership comes on the heels of MMPWW’s acquisition by the out-of-home provider, Life on Screen. This collaboration will enable MMPWW to broaden its portfolio of ad networks by accessing exclusive Huawei audiences and further bolster its presence in international markets.
Petal Ads is collaborating with MMP World Wide (MMPWW) to enhance immersive solutions in the MENA region. The partnership aims to provide consumers with unique experiences and multiple activation options by leveraging MMPWW’s programmatic expertise. Petal Ads will also be able to monetize their digital ad inventory more effectively and boost campaign performance through targeted programmatic in-app advertising.
Petal Ads will provide MMPWW inventory on Huawei’s media platforms such as AppGallery, Huawei Video, Huawei Music, and Petal Search. This means that advertisers will have access to a wider audience and more targeted advertising options on a global scale. Overall, this collaboration is set to revolutionize digital advertising in the MENA region and beyond.
Campaign Middle East quotes William Hu, Managing Director of Huawei Consumer Business Group, Middle East and Africa Eco-Development and Operation said,
We are delighted to collaborate with a regional powerhouse like MMP WorldWide and are confident that this collaboration will usher us into a new era and open new doors for advertisers in the region. At Huawei, we are always interested in forming partnerships with companies that are at the forefront of the ad-tech industry and understand the power of programmatic advertising and its role in brand building. Through this collaboration, we hope to provide advertisers with new ways to target customers by leveraging the Petal Ads ecosystem.
Ayman Haydar, CEO of MMP World Wide further said,
We are excited to be a Petal Ads certified partner and look forward to collaborating on bringing these exclusive solutions to the market. Huawei already has a significant market share in the MENA region and is steadily expanding its customer base, and I am confident that we can effectively offer the industry this Petal Ads ecosystem. With China now easing up travel restrictions, the timing is perfect for us to help MENA advertisers target more effectively in the biggest market in the world.