Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Trinity Lunch: Meet the Sponsors – Luca Masiello of Xandr

With NDA’s Summer ‘Trinity Lunch’ happening today (10 June), we caught up with the leaders of businesses sponsoring the event. Here, we meet Luca Masiello, Advertising Partnerships Manager at Xandr, a Microsoft Company… 

What are the biggest issues your clients/customers are facing at the moment?

To sum this up in one word, I think it would have to be change. The last few years have accelerated trends in our industry. We’ve had to navigate changes in government regulation, more stringent platform privacy policies and new ways of managing identity whilst persistent identifiers like the third-party cookies decline. This was all during a global pandemic which saw consumer behavioural changes and brought into question what the ‘right thing’ is for advertisers to do. Traditional strategies that the digital advertising industry has grown up around are being called into review and need to be rebuilt for a privacy-first, consumer centric world. Advertisers need to find new ways to create competitive advantage in a landscape that looks completely different to even two years ago. The important thing to remember here though is that we grow together. Publisher provided IDs, curated marketplaces, cross-industry task forces and publisher coalitions are just some of the active steps our industry is taking to move in the right direction. As Bob Iger once said, “you can’t allow tradition to get in the way of innovation” and I believe we are only just getting started. 

Are your customers/partners prepared for the ‘cookieless’ marketing era?

At an NDA and Xandr event earlier this year, we asked our guests the same question and the answers were fairly mixed! Right now, marketers are asking themselves what solution, or blend of solutions, is right to future proof their businesses. They are considering how they can continue to drive performance, insight, and personalisation in an evolving buying landscape. Agencies are finding their relationships with brands is changing, they are becoming more consultative. Meanwhile, brands are leaning into their tech relationships more than ever, to truly understand the solutions at their disposal and to make the right choice for the long term. All of this is really positive for our industry, providing an opportunity for marketers to differentiate away from the easy to scale, plug and play options. Where previously an ‘over-reliance’ on third-party cookies created a lack of differentiation, what we will see now is marketers’ finding they have more choice over their partners, more freedom to pick the right ones for their business and those that can help create future proofed strategies that can meet very specific requirements. That is the really exciting part. From a readiness perspective, the options are out there, it’s now a case of simply picking the right one and starting to test today.

Are there any lingering after-effects of the pandemic still influencing your marketplace?

‘Fast paced’ and ‘agile’ are terms often banded around when talking about the programmatic industry, but we have truly seen this to be the case over the last few years. In the last two years, we have all had to transform our working life to operations that are fully virtual and fully functional. Now, as we come close to what feels like the other side, we are working on re-finding the balance between virtual and in-person business. 

Are there any other noteworthy trends in your marketplace right now?

With the deprecation of third-party cookies, the programmatic supply chain is set to become more complex than ever. Fragmentation is on the up due to the growing number of intermediaries that buyers must work with and, as a result, advertisers are taking renewed interest into their entire programmatic supply chains. The way they are doing this by is increasingly choosing partners who operate transparently, across all parts of the ecosystem. From supply path optimisation, to partner evaluation, to complete fee transparency, and curated marketplaces – the goal is total efficiency leading to tangible performance improvements for advertisers. 

From a personal perspective, is advertising getting better or worse?

Better! The deprecation of the third-party cookie is, in my opinion, one of the best things to happen to our industry. It shed light on a number of fundamental problems around trust and privacy, and now the ad industry has a chance to do better by the consumer. As a whole, the industry has already seen this start to bear fruit, rebuilding consumer trust in advertising through how we handle user intent, leaning in to changes in the privacy and regulation landscapes, and, perhaps most importantly, how we handle user first-party data. We’ve also started to see more of a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion – how do we reflect these in programmatic buying? At Xandr we are actively partnering with companies who specialise in this.

Xandr, a part of Microsoft Advertising, powers a global marketplace for premium advertising. Our data-enabled technology platform, encompassing Xandr Invest, Xandr Monetize, and Xandr Curate, optimizes return on investment for both buyers and sellers, while maintaining a commitment to an open marketplace and empowering the open web globally.