Talking Programmatic with…adsquare

Ahead of the Programmatic Lunch on 23 November, we have been talking to some of the event’s partners to get their thoughts on the current programmatic landscape. Here we talk to Dave Fieldhouse, managing director, UK, at adsquare

MM: So Dave, adsquare is a data business. What’s it been like to be in that sort of business in the year when GDPR came into force?

DF: That’s right, we work with over 100 transparent data suppliers, crunch the data and put into segments and we are then connected pre-bid with most of the world’s largest DSPs. The data falls into three areas. Firstly, standard age, demographics and interests which are Neilsen benchmarked. Secondly, location data. And thirdly, contextual. 

As for GDPR, it was broadly positive for us. The company was born in Germany and is headquartered in Berlin, and as you probably realise, German privacy laws are very strict and we have adhered to these from day one, so  we didn’t really have too many issues around GDPR. We are decoupled from media. Data is what we do, and the collection, processing and control of that data is handled very sensitively. In fact, given the companies who exited the market due to the arrival of GDPR, we saw an uptick in business. 

MM: OK so even if there was nothing for your clients and partners to worry about, did you find any of them panicking unnecessarily?

DF: Panic is probably too strong a word, but we spent a lot of time taking our clients through our processes to reassure them that we are compliant and are taking the right approach. But those compliance conversations are coming to an end now, it’s business as usual. 

MM: So what’s been your take on the programmatic landscape in 2018?

DF: It’s a big question, because things change all the time, but the biggest change I have seen is the growth in using quality data decoupled from media. I have found that what has become more and more important for clients is that the media piece is separate from the data piece, and I can see that trend continuing next year. Also the issue of fraud has been seriously looked at, with some positive moves from industry bodies like the IAB

MM: At the risk of asking a dumb question, why does it matter?

DF: It’s about transparency and, to your earlier point, GDPR compliance. A lot of the media businesses that bundle in data with their offering struggle somewhat to gain consent for the data they are using. There’s also the issue of transparency on pricing. When data and media are bundled together that can sometimes be opaque and there is a demand, client-side, for more transparency and the ability to A/B test. 

Looking towards next year, I think there will be a lot of consolidation, especially on the DSP side. More and more conversations are centred around the four or five major DSPs, so I think anyone outside that group will start to struggle. The supply chain is fragmented so there will also be consolidation there. Ads.txt has been a good initiative from the IAB. I think the in-app space will be next and will drive a lot of mobile growth next year in terms of blocking fraud and so on. The industry will follow the app dollars and the guys with the money are demanding this happens, so I expect the app space to be a growth area in 2019. 

MM: And what about location data in particular, where’s that headed?

DF: Location is a hot topic and where I think it will grow considerably next year is through partnerships with traditional media companies. Partnerships with digital out of home companies, for example, are coming through very strongly, and we can help those companies do a lot with location. There has been a lot of test and learn and I feel now that these companies are ready to partner properly and roll out location-enabled products, both for measurement and insight.  Connected TV and mobile location is another very strong proposition. This is at an earlier stage, but I feel this will come through pretty strong next year. 

MM: Can you flesh this out a little, explain how these partnerships will benefit advertisers?

DF: Sure, for out of home for example we carry out a lot of poster scoring, where  we ingest all the outdoor locations into our system and overlay audiences on those to determine which ones index highest against certain outdoor placements. We can see who has been exposed to those poster locations and executions, and then further down the funnel, we can start looking at who has been exposed and then gone into a store, online or visited the client app, so there is quite a lot of work can be done.

Similarly, with the connected TV, the idea of dual screening has been around a long time. We know that most people are watching TV and playing on their phone at the same time, so we can start looking at providing location information, combined with the right time of day and the day of week, all this gives advertisers a lot more options in terms of targeting and insight into traditional buys. I think we’re in for some exciting times.