Sadie Spooner on trust in advertising and life as a Partnerships Lead

This week we sat down with Sadie Spooner from Unruly’s New York office to talk about trust in advertising, Unruly culture, and what life is like as a Partnerships Lead.

“When bad actors are being called out it must be scary for some, but it’s a huge opportunity for a company like Unruly”

Q: Hi, first of all, could you introduce yourself and tell a bit about what you do here at Unruly?

Hello! I’m Unruly’s partnerships lead in the US, based in our New York office. I help grow Unruly’s US business by overseeing commercial relationships with key partners. This includes our biggest advertiser, and our parent company News Corp.

Q: How did you find your way here?

I had a friend who worked at Unruly and loved it, so I had to check it out! When I came to London to interview for a role, I had never seen people walking around an office in jeans and trainers before! Not to mention all the exposed brickwork and an office pug! Everyone at Unruly seemed to genuinely love and care about their jobs. It clicked for me that life didn’t have to be all suit jackets and filing cabinets, so I made the move to Unruly. It was definitely daunting at first going from the most digitally savvy person in the room to the least, but I loved it.

Q: What notable roles did you hold prior to Unruly?

I started life on the advertiser side, graduating in marketing and working as a marketing manager for two national house-builders in the UK before joining Unruly. It was fun, I got to drive around the country doing the marketing for our housing developments and putting together show homes in beach towns, country villages, and big cities like Manchester and London. A lot of what I learnt translated across to my role at Unruly. I was responsible for hiring and managing our ad agencies, and choosing vendors, so I knew what a marketer was looking for in a partner before I joined Unruly.

Q: What draws you to this type of work?

Well for a start, this industry is fascinating. Did I dress up as an advertising salesperson when I was five? Obviously not (pop star). But the longer I’ve worked in this industry and the more I’m exposed to our leadership and decision making, the more I’ve realized we’re one of the good players. We’re building products that work for users, driving trust in advertising, supporting quality journalism, and doing right by advertisers, and that is fulfilling.

When bad actors are being called out it must be scary for some, but it’s a huge opportunity for a company like Unruly, who are committed to making advertising better. Personally, getting to work alongside powerful, historic brands like the Wall Street Journal, and making deals with the most sophisticated and discerning advertisers, is very exciting.

Q: With trust in advertising being a huge talking point recently what does it mean to you?

As a base line (and this should be obvious) if a company lies or doesn’t hold itself accountable for something that was misleading, it’s not a trustworthy partner. As a layer above, it should be possible to trust another business to do everything in its power to protect your reputation when you work together. I think that’s quite a difficult kind of trust to achieve in our industry, and that’s the type that gets broken when brand safety is lax, or controversial tactics are used without permission. Due to its rarity, I think that kind of trust isn’t talked about enough and is generally an undervalued component of a business partnership. However I think that’s beginning to change.

Sadie drinking a coffee in the Unruly New York office

Q: Tell us about something you’ve learned while working at Unruly.

I’ve learnt a huge amount about productivity from Unruly. This company is great at encouraging you to think about more productive ways of working like standing or walking meetings, setting clear meeting goals, and stand ups. It sounds simple but I feel like I’m three times more productive since being more cognizant of the way I’m working.

Q: What are Unruly doing to tackle fake news?

We’re in a very good place to tackle fake news. Literally, we’re in the same building as the Wall Street Journal! By working closely with our News Corp publisher partners we’re funding real journalism. One of the first steps we can take to fight fake news is to stop fake news being funded.

At Unruly, we are in a position where we can be picky with who we work with. We have always been stringent about the websites our ads appear on so we have no weird legacy long-tail sites. It’s much harder to catch and deal with on user generated websites like social networks and YouTube, so I think the right thing is happening. Pressure from advertisers and more premium businesses like News Corp will hopefully encourage those guys to step up their game and do what they need to do to.

Q: How does Unruly build trust with its customers?

We’re a company taking trust in advertising seriously, it’s not just our vision to be the most trusted marketplace, we’re injecting transparency into our comms with clients and engaging with advertisers about what trust in advertising means to them.

We recently held a Trust Talks event here in NYC with panels on the subject of trust in advertising, and transparency in programmatic buying. It was so interesting to get the views of panelists from ad agencies, advertisers, ad tech partners, and publishers and a lot of healthy disagreement! Another one is happening in London next month which I’m really looking forward to! We also just launched U7, a client council of the biggest heavyweights in our industry, which is designed to help clean up the advertising industry by making practices more transparent.

Q: Enough about work. It’s the weekend: what do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m lucky enough to have a free weekend in the city it’s usually brunch with friends, a lot of walking around the city, maybe some shopping and later on bar hopping. After over two years of living in New York I’m still in awe every time I look up Lexington Ave and see the Chrysler building behind rows of yellow taxis!

Want to join the Unruly family? You’re in luck, we’re hiring! Check out our job page for the latest roles!