Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Soho Sessions January 2023: the judges deliver their verdict

The Union Club in London’s Greek Street recently played host to the first Soho Sessions event of 2023.

The ‘Dragons’ Den’ style pitch event, organised by New Digital Age (NDA), saw teams from ad tech providers DoubleVerify and Quantcast deliver 15-minute presentations to an expert panel of lead judges, consisting of Emma Withington, Managing Partner and Head of Planning at MG OMD; Steve Ricketts, Managing Partner and Head of eCommerce Practice at EssenceMediacom; and Jean-Guillaume Paumier, Global Head of Innovation and Client Lead at iProspect. Each pitch team then joined each of the individual judges and a selection of the judges’ colleagues for breakout sessions where the tech solutions were discussed in greater detail.

NDA caught up with the judging panel to find out what factors motivated them to take part in the Soho Sessions and to gauge their reactions to the pitches they heard. 

Discussing his reasons for taking part, Ricketts said, “At EssenceMediacom, we’re always looking for innovation and how we can deliver breakthroughs for our clients. It’s important to take a step back, try to take a holistic view, and seek solutions outside of the day job.”

Withington commented: “My job at MG OMD spans all media channels, which are all developing at a ridiculous pace. Meeting interesting tech partners isn’t something that’s part of my day-to-day, so the Soho Session offered a chance to make some new connections, hear about some new developments, to stretch my own knowledge and, also, create some opportunity for the clients and the brands that we work with.”

Paumier added: “It’s part of my role to seek out interesting new partners to bring to our clients. For iProspect, innovation is about understanding the intersection between brand and performance. The pitches we saw felt very pertinent to the kind of clients we have at dentsu, the kind of questions that we have right now, and how we define innovation as a business.”

The pitches: DoubleVerify

So, what did the judges make of the initial pitches (and follow-up breakout sessions) they heard on the day? 

On the subject of DoubleVerify’s presentation, Paumier said: “Attention is a topic we’re very familiar with at dentsu, so it was refreshing to see a solution that moved beyond theory and super-sophisticated but challenging-to-scale eye tracking tech, to look at attention through a slightly different lens. The presentation quality was strong as was the clarity on how they view attention and where it sits within their wider offering. It was quite exciting to see an interesting new entry in the attention market with potentially a very scalable approach.”

Ricketts commented: “Leanne and Michael from DoubleVerify (DV) presented their content concisely and clearly. I think all of the judges had lots of questions but saved most for the individual breakout sessions. We already work with them on some EssenceMediacom clients and discussed other opportunities.”  

“The breakout session helped to go deeper into the DoubleVerify solution: how it worked, their integration with Amazon and more. We also discussed our existing clients and identified other colleagues and potential clients for follow-ups. Given the explosion in retail media, we also explored how the DV solution could help and how their product could evolve, for example, by integrating with retail media owners, technology, and partners.” 

Withington’s agency also had a pre-existing relationship with both companies pitching but was reassured to see that both were presenting new developments to explore in more detail. 

She said: “The deep dive actually was great, because we just had a really good conversation. They didn’t re-pitch anything, we just got stuck into the application of the tools on specific client challenges that we have. It was a good conversation. We actually ended up having a really good debate about attention and how the industry is talking about it right now.” 

The pitches: Quantcast

Turning to the presentation from Quantcast, Withington said: “We’ve worked with Quantcast in the past but not loads recently, so it was interesting to learn about some significant updates to their technology. The ‘audience insights platform’ element of the pitch was very strong, and the team delivered the presentation with confidence and clarity. The deep dive allowed us to get under the skin of the platform a bit more and discuss a few tangible examples of how we might work with them. We’ve continued  those conversations since.”

Ricketts commented that “Maeve and Tommy from Quantcast delivered the presentation well and teed up the breakout session nicely”. He added: “We already work with Quantcast at EssenceMediacom and we discussed potential new opportunities to collaborate. The breakout session helped us to go deeper into the Quantcast case studies. With my interest in fast-growing retail media, we also explored how the Quantcast solution could potentially help.”

Paumier added: “Quantcast gave a really slick demonstration of the signals that they use from a planning perspective, and delivered a very practical, hands-on demonstration, which was really interesting and super relevant to our own approach. We’re also interested in their innovation around the connected TV space so there’s more for us to talk about.”

Would your organisation be interested in taking part in our next Soho Session? If so, email to say hello and we’ll get back to you with the relevant details.