Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA Meets: Peter Wallace, General Manager EMEA at GumGum

Following the news of GumGum’s expansion in northern Europe, New Digital Age caught up with Peter Wallace, General Manager, EMEA at the contextual intelligence company to find out more about the new era of contextual marketing and ‘The Mindset Platform’ that GumGum has created…

What led you to your current role with GumGum?

When I finished my degree, way back when, I moved to London and spent six months sleeping on my brother’s sofa. I eventually got a job with an affiliate marketing startup, then migrated into agency work for many years, before deciding to try something a bit different.  My first move out of agency work was to a behavioural targeting business, then about seven years ago, I joined GumGum while the business was still in its infancy across markets outside of the US, with about seven people in London. We’ve come a long way since then in many ways.

After years of discussion and preparation, is the digital marketing industry actually ready for third-party cookie deprecation on Chrome?

I’ve been working with cookieless, contextual targeting solutions since the early days of my media agency career, so it feels like we’re experiencing a bit of a ‘rebound’ rather than a ‘rebirth’. What has changed significantly is the capabilities and of those contextual solutions now driven by deep learning and AI.

The market circumstances are absolutely driving a lot of that change today, but we’ve been readying ourselves for this for some time. The truth is that addressable audiences have been decreasing in scale and accessibility for years already. 

With Google’s latest announcement, there are still some grey areas around timings. The cynic in me would suggest that we probably have a little bit longer than we think before full deprecation driven by things like the CMA, but there’s no doubt that there’s a global focus by advertisers on how they will target, optimise and measure campaigns.

Generally speaking, I think the industry is fairly well prepared but there are a few nuances that have still to be fully ironed out. The reality of the pipes of ad tech is that you need identifiers of some sort and you need to be able to scale campaigns in various ways, which have traditionally been cookie-based. There are a number of ID solutions along with the importance of first-party data being at the forefront of conversation. While I firmly believe that contextual is going to be the targeting method of choice, it’s not going to be the only thing in your toolbox. Advertisers will use solutions in combination for optimal outcomes based on their business.

Why has GumGum created ‘The Mindset Platform’?

We’ve built a privacy compliant platform, which is applicable for now and for the future, however data privacy legislation might evolve. The Mindset Platform, as the name suggests, is driven by the premise of targeting individuals who are in the right mindset to be receptive to a particular message. This is powered by three component parts: creative, contextual, and attention. These are all hot topics among digital marketers at the moment.

Creative is having a renaissance within digital, which is really exciting, as it used to be a bit of an afterthought for a lot of brands, particularly those chasing vanity metrics. GumGum has led with contextual technology since day one, and we believe that our contextual solutions, developed over the course of the past 15 years, are better than anybody else’s. The contextual intelligence platform that we use is called Verity, which is MRC-accredited for content-level contextual analysis, brand safety and suitability across desktop, mobile web and CTV.

On the attention side of things, three years ago we acquired a company called Playground XYZ and its Attention Intelligence Platform, which is a really powerful tool; attention measurement and optimisation will become the primary KPI for brands globally over the coming years.

The fact that we have proprietary platforms across all three of those concepts means that they can then talk to one another. The interoperability of those platforms is really important as it allows an advertiser to truly tap into the audience mindset in that moment. If attention can inform context, in real time, and creativity can be informed by context and attention, you can shape and deliver campaigns in ways that achieve better outcomes.