Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Alexandra Ong, Director of Business Development at Magnite

Alexandra Ong is Director of Business Development at Magnite. We asked who her digital hero is.

Who is your digital hero?

Throughout the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with many industry trailblazers, so it’s difficult to choose just one digital hero.

Both Graeme Lynch, who I work with at Magnite, and Toccara Baker, who I worked with during stints at Adobe and TubeMogul, stand out as two colleagues who have not only helped elevate my career, but have also consistently supported others in taking their careers to new heights.

I have learned a lot from them individually about how to carry myself to achieve success, and seen firsthand the tireless work they put into training more junior team members to jumpstart their own careers. 

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?  

Graeme truly understands the value of diversity, equity and inclusion both in the workplace and within the advertising industry. Having known and worked with him for over ten years at Magnite, Specific Media and TubeMogul, I’ve seen him lead by example in the way he builds and manages his own teams, promoting collaboration and transparency above all.

He recognises the importance of providing support and space for team members from a range of backgrounds, and the impact helping them progress and allowing them to shine can have on driving the business forward. 

Both Graeme and Toccara have helped me reshape how I think about my job, but in slightly different ways. Working primarily with the supply-side, it’s easy to slip into a mindset focused only on what’s best for suppliers, but Graeme’s guidance has helped me view my job more holistically and consider all parts of the business. 

On the other hand, observing Toccara in the boardroom taught me how to exude confidence around key stakeholders and decision-makers. I found my voice in adtech by absorbing how she approaches important meetings and commands the respect of everyone she meets.

She’s assertive without being abrasive and sets clear boundaries with people, which are qualities I admire and always try to replicate in my own work. Exclusion from boardroom conversations can still be a challenge for women in the industry, and Toccara’s ability to make such a strong impression in these settings was always inspiring to me. 

How has their heroism helped drive digital?  

Toccara and Graeme drive conversations forward rather than following the lead. Graeme has been pushing for diversity in adtech long before it became a hot topic in the media. 

Beyond just leading by example, they both challenge the norm and inspire their teams to aim higher and think bigger, helping influence the younger generation in particular within their roles and fostering their growth. While under their mentorship, I have seen younger team members develop within their roles and advance in the workplace. It is thanks to the efforts of Toccara and Graeme that multiple future generations are in good hands.

Toccara also taught me a crucial skill – adaptability. This skill is important no matter where you work, but its significance heightens exponentially when working at a multinational business. At Magnite alone, we have twenty offices spanning five continents. Each arm of the company is unique and nuanced, so observing how they effortlessly connect different local contexts to produce cohesive business strategies helps me with my approach.

What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?  

Streaming is a large part of my remit, and within this, I have seen that live CTV measurement is a constant and significant challenge – one that can only be solved with industry wide collaboration. As it stands, there is work to be done before we have tools that are robust enough for cross-media, omnichannel measurement. SSPs, brands and publishers have begun integrating tools and forming partnerships, but there isn’t a reliable, standardised protocol for data sharing that would allow for more accurate measurement. 

Leaders in digital will need to consider the industry as a whole to achieve better measurement practices. Advertisers need to think about what’s in it for everyone else to spur collaboration that helps suppliers and brands alike. CTV apps and advertisers are becoming closer but there needs to be a clearer roadmap to a fully transparent and secure relationship between buyers and sellers.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?  

Throughout my long career in adtech, I’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed the transformation of many traditional media formats into digital iterations – radio to audio, TV to CTV, OOH to DOOH, and so on. My proudest moments come from being part of the core team at multiple companies during their first plunge into these digital alternatives. 

Speaking of firsts, I was privileged to have been involved in first-to-market opportunities in the programmatic space in the EU.

A team I managed launched SYGMA, a consortium of the major French broadcasters, and I was also involved in making Adobe Advertising Cloud one of the first DSPs to launch programmatic with Channel 4 in the UK. Making products work for clients is the most fulfilling part of working in digital, and to have worked on some pioneering projects made the experience all the more rewarding.