Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why Xandr put human talent at the heart of its ‘Programmatic Life’ podcast

In little more than a decade, programmatic technology has transformed the world of digital advertising, but what does that mean for the human beings working within the industry? 

Created by end-to-end ad platform Xandr, a recent six-part podcast series, The Programmatic Life, interviewed six leaders from the programmatic industry about their careers, their professional likes and dislikes, and the quirks associated with working in the digital media business.

Hosted by Karan Singh, Xandr’s Head of Advertiser Partnerships and Amina Begum, Director Solutions Consulting, the show saw industry names including Lauren Ogúndèkó, Chief Digital Officer at Initiative; Demi Abiola, Business Director at mSix; and Paul Gubbins, VP CTV Strategy at Publica share their stories and opinions on a wide range of topics, such as diversity, navigating Ad Tech trade shows and understanding industry jargon. 

New Digital Age spoke to the podcast hosts about their own experience of recording the shows and their hopes for the series.

NDA: Overall, did you enjoy the experience of hosting The Programmatic Life podcast series?

Amina Begum (AB): It was an incredible experience. I had the chance to chat with people that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. I also enjoyed learning a new skill, as there was much more to hosting than I originally anticipated. I presumed we would just turn up and have a conversation but there’s actually quite a lot of finesse involved in keeping the conversation moving and producing 30 minutes of content that people will want to listen to. Between the first episode and the sixth, I learned a lot.

Karan Singh (KS): In the past, I’ve done lots of panels and speaking on stage but hosting a podcast was a very different sort of experience. I enjoyed the looser, less formal nature of the podcast, meaning we could explore topics and exchange opinions in quite a light, fun way. It was great to meet such a diverse group of thinkers and explore their backgrounds in a way that you don’t normally hear at industry conferences.   

Do you have a favourite episode from the series?

AB: Every episode has some big highlights! I think I completely fan-girled over Lauren Ogúndèkó and took a lot personally from that session. We really wanted to speak to people across the breadth of the industry, so to hear from a woman operating as Chief Digital Officer of a major agency like Intitative was fantastic and inspiring.

KS: I really enjoyed the conversation with Paul Gubbins. I had heard Paul speak in the past on various industry subjects, but this was the first time I had heard him discuss how he got started in the industry and how he has been ‘learning in public’ ever since. It was refreshing to hear industry figures speak on a more personal level. All the people we interviewed were remarkably honest about their experiences.

What has been the reaction to the series so far? 

KS: I’ve been told that the episodes could have been a bit longer, which is obviously a positive bit of feedback. I also think people have appreciated the way we deliberately took a different approach to the industry, by focusing on the human talent behind the tech. It’s great to have the validation of our colleagues and contemporaries, as we were determined that The Programmatic Life wasn’t just ‘another ad tech podcast’. Based on the feedback to date, I think we achieved that. 

AB: I’ve heard from lots of people who’ve really enjoyed the human element of the series, including contacts in the US. People have reached out referencing specific points such as the lack of learning at industry events, saying that hearing people talk so openly about it has helped them feel a little more at ease with saying no where they don’t see their attendance bringing value. It’s been interesting to receive a variety of feedback about the different things that have particularly struck a chord with listeners.

Now that we’ve released all six episodes, I hope that the impact of the series has only just begun. The content is pretty timeless, so I hope we’re still picking up new listeners in six month’s time. If any of the episodes can help listeners to think about their own career journey in programmatic, I’d consider that an amazing win. 

You can listen to all six episodes of Xandr’s podcast series The Programmatic Life here.