Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Celebrating Women in Programmatic: Kerry Willis, Director of Technical Partnerships, VIOOH

The Women In Programmatic Network was set up to represent women in the programmatic industry. To celebrate its work, NDA is running a series of interviews with its members. Next up is Kerry Willis, Director of Technical Partnerships at VIOOH.

Why did you join the Women in Programmatic network and what do you hope to get out of it?

I’m delighted to have recently joined the Women in Programmatic Network. There were many reasons I wanted to join this fantastic group. The first being, I wanted to meet other women in the industry to learn from their experiences and share my own experiences too. And with programmatic in the digital OOH world being a relatively new media buying method, I wanted to join this group to help share my insights and knowledge on how programmatic digital OOH works and how its benefits can be utilised more.

Moreover, I wanted to help encourage more women to work in the ad tech industry. My role involves working with technical account managers and I would love to see even more women working in these types of roles.

Finally, I’m currently pregnant with my first child, so any tips and insights from other working mothers on navigating back to work, and if/how motherhood has changed their working identity, would be most welcome!

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

Like with most businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that flexible working is the way forward. Enabling people to be more flexible with their ways of working has created many opportunities for both women and men – to work from different areas of the country and to be flexible with their working hours – meaning that they can balance their home life better.

At VIOOH, our People Team were quick to adapt to the new needs of employees and created a hybrid working model that enabled employees to create a routine that worked most efficiently for them. This has helped our recruitment team to broaden the reach for their hiring and as a result, we have brought in lots of amazing new talent across the globe, that pre-pandemic might not have been possible.

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

We are starting to see improvements at industry events to ensure that there is more of a gender balance with speakers and panellists. For example, the organisation D.I.C.E. (Diversity & Inclusion at Conferences and Events) was created to help conferences and events deliver a representative and diverse set of speakers, perspectives, and attendees.

It would be great to see more awards that look to ensure that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. I also think it would be beneficial for DE&I committees to come together and share what work they have been doing to champion women in their workplace.

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

From a digital OOH perspective, one of the biggest opportunities is that programmatic is increasingly being seen as an enabler to support both brand and performance objectives, and we’re starting to see real shifts in programmatic digital OOH being planned or bought alongside other programmatic or digital channels.

In the UK, 89% (VIOOH, State of the Nation Report, 2021) of advertisers and agency executives stated that they plan to integrate programmatic digital OOH more closely into multi-channel campaigns, and it’s this increased inclusion we at VIOOH predict will be the key driver in the widespread adoption of programmatic digital OOH globally. Watch this space!

Some of the areas of improvement for the advertising industry include:

– Continued education on how programmatic can deliver value, ROI and a brilliant brand experience – especially in emerging channels such as programmatic digital OOH.

– Continued focus on transparency across channels to allow brand owners and agencies to make informed decisions on which programmatic channels help them to hit their objectives.

What is your biggest achievement in programmatic to date? With amazing support and guidance from my manager, Natalia Escribano, I would say my biggest achievement is growing our Technical Solutions team from two people to seven. This involved internally building processes and ways of working and externally building engagement models.

Programmatic digital OOH is in its infancy which means that change is a huge part of what we all manage every day – this means it’s super exciting and fast-paced but brings challenges in ensuring we can scale efficiently and effectively. A lot has been achieved already but this is only just the beginning, with lots more to come!

Opinion, The Women In Programmatic Network