Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Layla Soufi, DSP Partnerships EMEA, VIOOH

NDA’s Digital Women series is talking to leaders from across our industry to understand the particular challenges, and opportunities faced by women. Next up is Layla Soufi, DSP Partnerships EMEA, VIOOH.

What are the biggest challenges, and opportunities for women in the digital industry today?

Although we have come so far with regards to opportunities for women, we still have a long way to go. Looking at the top of the digital industry, only 4% of tech startup founders are women and in turn only 15% are general partners at VC firms.

Coming down the funnel in this we still face the same unspoken challenges, such as being too scared to negotiate a maternity contract for fear of our potential employer making assumptions and moving us down the list of favoured candidates.

There are opportunities arising for equality wherever we turn, but are these being pushed with the right agenda or to just tick a box? The reality is, gender, race, age, sexuality etc. should never be a point of consideration for anyone in any industry but if we continue to work to change habits and re-educate constantly, for the right reasons, the challenges will reduce and the right opportunities will continue to come up for women.

What does the industry need to do to better champion women?

Today we see so many more females heading up key media companies in the UK than we have had in the past, but there still needs to be an education on why this is so important. With both men and women collectively in these powerful positions, we benefit from more versatile leaders who can work together to drive opportunities for everyone.

We champion women and equality whilst promoting their successes, but let’s keep on talking about the why’s and the benefits to keep us on this pathway. It’s well known that a diverse workforce is key to any company’s success due to the differing backgrounds and viewpoints that can be contributed to problem-solve – the same goes for women, and having more women in senior positions and understanding the importance of getting them there is a fundamental point for the digital advertising industry.

What are the biggest challenges, and opportunities overall for digital advertising this year?

Digital has had many ups and downs in the last few years. Working in DOOH, we saw the industry come to a complete standstill in 2020 but also coming out of the other side with so many opportunities surfacing with a strong growth and bounceback, especially in the emerging channel of programmatic DOOH.

One challenge for brands can be the overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to digital media channels and trying to understand how to choose the right ones for their campaign goals. In programmatic DOOH, I’m a strong believer that when it’s used as part of an omnichannel buy it should be structured on a brands campaign objectives & a strong creative – it’s never one-size fits all.

Sometimes it can be forgotten that the traditional media channels still deliver in a very effective way, and audiences are in a totally different headspace when they consume media – the key is to think as the consumer and find these opportunities.

Saying that though, now is currently a great time to experiment with programmatic DOOH, especially given the precarious and uncertain economic outlook that the UK is facing. Test and learn!

What is your biggest achievement in digital to date?

Resilience is my biggest achievement. I was held at a career standstill for a long time and sadly in 2020 was one of many who found themselves made redundant at the start of the pandemic. It was such a stressful and unpredictable time but I was lucky enough to never lose faith and drive, which motivated me to push forward with my career in a way that I am proud of.

I have been able to grow and develop so much in the last 2 years and the support from others in the industry has been so great. I will continue to be grateful for all of my peers across the industry and fantastic networking tools like LinkedIn for keeping me going. We must remember to put in what we want to get out, supporting our peers is key in this respect.