An interview with Diaz Nesamoney, the founder and CEO of Jivox, a data-driven dynamic ad platform.
By Mariama Holman
PA.O: What triggered your interest in zeroing in on programmatic advertising after founding Informatica and Celequest?
Diaz Nesamoney: What surprised me was just how little tech was being used in digital advertising. A lot of things were not being automated that should have been.
Programmatic was an opportunity for mass coordinating every ad and every impression – largely based on demand and supply. Buyers didn’t know where all the suppliers were. Sellers couldn’t meet the buyers. There was all of this inefficiency in trying to buy and sell impressions. I realized that this was not just a passing fad – it is actually permanent. It struck me as a perfect place for entry.
PA.O: We’ve heard it said that programmatic advertising is “set it and forget it” – do you agree with this statement?
Diaz Nesamoney: There is no need for humans to be involved in the individual day-to-day buying and selling. Humans can do more productive things.
I think human oversight needs to be in areas where it makes sense. There is a whole strategy for going into programmatic advertising — what are my goals? If I’m prospecting, should I use XYZ data? Which data should I use? Those are all decisions that humans have to be involved in.
Programmatic needs brand managers, CMOs, etc. It is a human’s job to set how to best approach an audience and reach them most effectively.
Marketing is, and has always been, about messaging and brand building. We just forget that at times because of all the tactics and executions needed for message delivery.
PA.O: Shouldn’t humans ensure that ads are delivered in a brand safe environment?
I think technology can do part of this work, but I also think that verification, and frankly, just the industry itself, is getting its collective act together to eliminate things like fraud and viewability issues.
The bigger obstacle is to get people out of print and TV and onboard with programmatic. At the end of the day, there is always an opportunity to game the system, and that is when humans are involved. Self-regulation is necessary for eliminating bad actors.
Humans are necessary for trust. Trust comes from humans stepping up and saying, “We are not going to allow this to happen on our site.” If trust is eroded, we’ll have a hard time getting any advertisers to spend. Then, the whole medium is questioned.
PA.O: What are best practices in serving ads cross-device?
Diaz Nesamoney: The line between channels is blurred. I believe the notion of multiple channels is dated.
PA.O: Can you explain, please?
Let’s say we look at email as a singular channel. If I engage emails on my phone, is it just email? We have so many channels. We even have an “app mobile” which is very different than just “mobile.”
Here is my advice for someone just coming into the digital space – look at the person first and foremost, then determine all of the different ways to reach him or her.
Work with the technology to let you get the message across channels, rather than constantly changing your strategy.
These people are on so many devices at so many times, you miss time and attention if you pick a particular device.
Think about an audience and let the programmatic platform do the work.
PA.O: If the platform does most of the work, where should humans put their time?
Diaz Nesamoney: Digital marketing has increased execution complexity significantly, but with programmatic our experience as marketers is improving. We can utilize technology to go back to the basics of marketing – messaging and strategy.
PA.O: Could you shed light on how rising star ads can be created in a way in which they are entertaining, rather than just an interruption?
Diaz Nesamoney: Ads should have a value proposition or else they are viewed as interruptive. First you have to make sure you have learned about a brand and their products. The consumer should actually be in the market for that item. This helps with preventing generic messaging.
I think the rising star formats are allowing brands to have a bigger canvas on which to speak.
It is really hard when you have a small banner to say much. Whereas with a portrait or skyscraper, you can use a lot of storytelling.
The more real estate you have, the more storytelling you can do. You can miss a banner ad, but it is much harder to miss a rising star.
Some of the best practices for ad creation focus on having the most useful content. If you’re a sporting goods manufacturer rather than just having shots of your product, how about you add some content to the ad about mountain climbing or camping? Add something of value that shows that you are going out of your way to provide useful information.
PA.O: Creative, ad viewabilty and size. What is the hierarchy?
Viewability is number one. It doesn’t matter how creative it is if no one can see it. This means picking ad formats and sizes that are higher viewability is definitely the best thing to do.
A lot of effort is put into creativity but delivered in a format that no one even sees.
If an ad is large and prominent you’ve gotten the users to notice. But just because they saw the ad doesn’t mean that they are going to engage.
PA.O: What is the outlook for rising star ad adoption? Here in the U.S. and abroad?
Diaz Nesamoney: The uptick has been a lot slower than we hoped for. Here in the U.S., there has been a couple of challenges. Some of the formats, not all of them, are hard to implement on site. The sites had to be modified, and it is not always easy to get them from the classic banners to rising star ads. Ads that got very quick adoption were fairly similar and could be inserted into classic units, such as billboards, filmstrips and pushdowns; however, sidekicks didn’t take off at all and never would because they require significant changes to the page.
Here is another factor affecting ad adoption – programmatic today can only deliver standard, classic ad sizes. In some ways we are back to the old banners again.
The programmatic plumbing is just not advanced enough to do rising stars at scale.
The silver lining is that a lot of brands wanted programmatic for scale. We all wanted to do high-impact executions on sites where we do direct buys. The more high impact units on publisher’s sites, the more brand pushback. There is a sizeable amount of inventory bought programmatically – driving consumption of high-impact ads.
PA.O: In the near future, do you expect advertisers to request more rising star inventory?
Diaz Nesamoney: If I do direct, I want to purchase inventory I can’t necessarily get programmatically – rising stars. That is helping rising stars quite a bit. If you want to buy programmatically you’re being forced to buy standard banner units. Publishers are now being more proactive and offering more options.
PA.O: I know you have a unique perspective from living and working in India. Can you share some details on the state of programmatic in India?
Diaz Nesamoney: In Asia in general, programmatic is a bit new. The quick upticks were more in Japan, Australia and Singapore. Digital has taken longer than you would have imagined in India. The Internet infrastructure is still extraordinarily weak. Traditional media – TV, newspaper and radio – is still very strong. Brands haven’t been feeling the pressure to go digital like we have here in America.
PA.O: Tell me a bit about your new book – “Personalized Digital Advertising: How Data and Technology are Transforming How We Market”?
We always thought we had two key levers for programmatic advertising – creativity and relevance. With programmatic you are limited creatively, and you can’t do high-impact executions. Therefore, the market is now having to focus more on relevance, which is a good thing. This makes users pay more attention because at the end of the day, they don’t like the disruptive model.
Show me something useful over something that is just creative.
How can we harness data largely volunteered by users?
The book is targeted at marketers, so it isn’t too technical. I demystify DMPs, acronyms, retargeting and all of those other terms people need to understand moving forward in this more data-driven world of marketing we live in.