Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Soho Sessions: Lotame, Fifty and The MediaGrid take to the stage of NDA’s Dragons’ Den-style event

The Union Club on London’s Greek Street played host to the first-ever live Soho Sessions event on 31st March, 2022. Organised by New Digital Age (NDA), the ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event saw three adtech companies make 15-minute pitches to a panel of expert judges from leading media agencies, then conduct 25-minute deep-dive Q&A sessions with each of the judges (and a selection of their agency colleagues) in turn.

“The idea behind the Soho Sessions is to bring brilliant adtech providers and agencies together in a way that maximises everyone’s time and effort,” said Justin Pearse, Managing Editor of NDA. “The contestants get to pitch to three major agencies at once, while the judges get the chance to find out about cutting-edge technologies in a concise and focused way. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. We have organised five of these events virtually over the past couple of years, so to be able to welcome participants in person today has been really special.”

Sophie Strong, Head of Display and Social, Wavemaker; Leena Vara-Patel, Managing Director, 13 Minutes, the7stars; and Shannon McDonald Head of Search, Commerce and Performance Product, Performics at Zenith made up the panel of lead judges.

The team from Lotame (Alison Harding, VP Data Solutions EMEA and Ross McMillan, VP Commercial Solutions EMEA) were first to face our panel. They opened their pitch by discussing the “$64.4 billion opportunity” available to brands via the open web, before presenting Lotame’s Panorama IDTM addressability solution, which McMillan described as the “second most-adopted cookieless identity solution in the world”. The deprecation of third-party cookies could lead brands to concentrate their media spending on the major walled gardens but Lotame’s solution, said Harding, was designed to “keep the open web open”.

Next up was the team from Fifty Technology (Alex Hawkesworth, Head of Productisation, and Alex Hetherton, VP of Sales) who made the case that, rather than fixate on rebuilding identity solutions, agencies should focus instead on how cutting edge technology removes the need to be limited by IDs. Human beings naturally cluster together around interests and passions; audiences that Fifty uncover from web and social data called ‘Tribes’, using ML and graphing technology. By basing its decisions on this rich organic human insight, FiftyAurora, their ID-free solution, offers an “evolution in contextual” by understanding audiences before they visit the pages that contextual targeting is limited to, said Hawkesworth. This creates breadth and dynamic audience-led decisioning and cuts out the wastage associated with traditional keyword-focused contextual targeting. 

Last to present were Tim Conley, Head of Client Services, Media Agencies, Parag Vohra, Commercial Leader, and Rob Greaves, Sales Director, at The MediaGrid, part of IPONWEB. The team presented The MediaGrid, a technology solution designed to bring buyers and sellers closer together by enabling agencies to deliver supply side optimisation, curate inventory for their campaigns and futureproof supply strategy against third-party cookie deprecation. Vohra, who had flown in from New York especially for the Soho Sessions event, explained to the agency leaders assembled how agencies can create their own supply marketplace to curate and enrich inventory on The MediaGrid to be activated against campaigns on the DSP of their choice via Deal IDs – all within the current programmatic workflow.  

Discussing the format of the half-day event, Fifty’s Alex Hawkesworth said: “The set-up is designed to bring a certain level of intensity, which helps to keep things focused, and it’s great to be able to to talk to disparate businesses as one rather than having to go through many different meetings. Being in person was definitely a bonus.” 

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.