Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Trinity Lunch: Meet the Sponsors – Steve Broadhead at Unruly

With NDA’s Summer ‘Trinity Lunch’ happening today (10 June), we caught up with the leaders of businesses sponsoring the event. Here, we meet Steve Broadhead, VP Sales – EMEA at Unruly

NDA: What are the biggest issues your customers are facing at the moment?

Steve Broadhead: The biggest challenge that we see marketers facing today is that they have great stories to tell but with the proliferation of devices, apps and content channels it’s harder than ever to reach audiences consistently and at scale with those stories. In the past, there were a few big media properties and channels, so it was more simple to find and reach consumers with messages that resonated with them. But the infinite content options available to consumers increasingly create obstacles across the campaign lifecycle: operating across devices is inefficient, maintaining relationships with consumers across channels is challenging, and managing cross-channel campaigns requires cutting-edge sophistication.

Alongside the fragmentation of consumer attention is data fragmentation. With data spread across multiple different sources, it is a challenge to derive valuable and consistent insights from that data, to improve campaign performance over time and reach consumers in meaningful, unobtrusive ways. As well, changes to the consumer privacy landscape like GDPR and the deprecation of third-party cookies are evolving the ways that brands can interact with consumers.   

Luckily, creating solutions to these challenges is how we spend our time at Unruly!

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

The biggest pandemic trend is the mass adoption of Connected TV. By the end of 2020, the consumption of streaming content grew by 44%, which clearly means that brands and media companies should be thinking about how CTV fits into their strategy.

But still, CTV is a relatively new, growing format and there is a great need for education in the market. Platform clients – buyers and sellers –  will want to partner with true experts in CTV. Unruly’s core focus is on video, with a marketplace comprised over 80% of video and CTV, so it’s something we’ve been working to optimise and educate our clients on for a while.

What are the big priorities for your organisation this year?

One key focus for us is increasing the proportion of global CTV inventory in our marketplace through both current and future media partners, and providing added benefits to help those partners better control their inventory and maximise revenue opportunities.

To this end, we have built our platform intentionally to support our customers’ CTV needs now and in future, including through the acquisition of a CTV ad server, Spearad, which brings advanced tools for ad pod monetization, purpose-built for broadcasters to deliver seamless TV-like experiences in CTV and OTT environments.

Not all ad servers have CTV ad pod monetization capabilities like Spearad, which is why we were particularly enthused about adding the technology, built by savvy industry veterans who share our vision, to our end-to-end platform.

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

A number of industry-wide updates are going into effect that will make audience targeting and measurement more challenging for the entire advertising ecosystem, and our clients are at various stages of preparation.

Unruly is helping our clients prepare through a diverse set of solutions so that they can continue driving successful campaigns amidst these changes. These include contextual solutions that do not rely on cookies like content-level targeting and predictive audiences as well as options to activate first-party data and Universal IDs, with more options being added to our portfolio.

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

Yes, we’re seeing advertising buyers looking for unique data and custom audience segments to achieve their KPIs. One example of how ad tech platforms can add value here is our parent company Tremor International’s partnership with VIDAA, a global operating system, for exclusive access to their Automatic Content Recognition, or “ACR”, data. ACR data identifies the content and ads that are being watched on a smart TV, inclusive of linear television. Based on what a consumer is watching and trends that can be formed based on their viewing habits, advertisers are able to target their audiences more effectively.

This partnership will give our international partners access to ACR data that didn’t previously exist and will expand our market-leading TV Intelligence solution from the US into their markets. We’re excited for the opportunities it will open up for our customers. 

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

Personally, I feel that advertising  is getting better. Examples of improvement are the attention being paid to consumers’ choice and control over their personal data, and the emerging creative technologies that enable sophisticated consumer experiences with ads. 

One important avenue we’re taking to improve advertising is our focus on dynamic creative, because a consumer’s emotional experience with an ad is key to brand perception.

In February 2021, we launched an in-house creative studio, Tr.ly, which gives advertisers on Unruly’s platform access to video creative solutions, ranging from the creation of a brand’s digital assets from scratch to the adaptation of existing assets to drive better campaign performance, optimised for all screens.

While a handful of dynamic creative platforms have popped up over the years, they bring limited capabilities, and the resulting ads are obviously cookie-cutter. Tr.ly’s technology and human expertise enables real-time changes to creative based on key data triggers including audience segments, location, time and weather, and a level of customization and sophistication so that even turnkey creative looks polished.

A Tremor International brand, Unruly is a global video-first platform that crafts unique ad experiences to meet the needs of content creators, brands and viewers across screens. Unruly enhances publisher supply through differentiated data, TV-like ad delivery in CTV/OTT environments, and creative production and optimization that push consumers further down the funnel. 

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