Inside ProDev: Unruly’s Software Engineer Ina Tsetsova on remote working, open source and stuffed toys

Next up in our ‘Inside ProDev’ series we sat down with one of our Software Engineers Ina Tsetsova to find out what a day in the life of an Unruly developer looks like. 

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

IT: Hi! I’m Ina Tsetsova and I’m a Software Engineer here at Unruly, currently working in our Shared Infrastructure team. The team started by taking over infrastructure projects that didn’t have an owner, and were getting pretty out-of-date. Now we are steadily improving things, instilling best practices, and spreading infrastructure knowledge!

Q: How did you end up at Unruly?

IT: I went to a couple of XProlo events and was blown away by the energy there. The speakers were engaging and the content was stellar. I quickly became curious about the company and its culture. As luck would have it, I already knew a couple of developers working at Unruly. I grabbed a coffee with each and tried to figure out if the company would be a good fit for me. It was, and here I am!

Q: Tell us about your day-to-day experience in the Unruly Pro Dev team?

IT: It is unique! We do a number of things differently than other organisations. For one, we do trunk-based development, and we deploy multiple times a day. Visitors to the office might see a lot of stuffed toys around, but they aren’t just for decoration. They are all deployment tokens and each has its own meaning. We take XP values and practices to heart, we do test-driven development, and we pair on everything that gets pushed into production.

soft toy in the Unruly office

As developers, we also have more ownership of our stories and practices. We do our own research, we talk to stakeholders, and we propose work for prioritisation. We’re very collaborative. If you choose to pair all day, every day, you probably enjoy working with people a fair bit.

Q: What draws you to the type of work you do?

IT: I care about making things better and having a tangible impact. The team I’m currently in enables me to do just that! We are in the same room as our stakeholders and deeply care about removing blockers for them. We also help to automate away the repeatable and manual tasks that get in the way of delivering business value quicker!

In my team, we’ve split the type of work we do across different strands. Mine is about ‘Reducing Toil’ for the rest of ProDev. That is ‘toil’ in the SRE sense of the word – work that is manual, automatable, of no lasting value, that doesn’t scale.  Everyone in our team owns their strand, and mine really aligns with my values. This really helps me feel productive and happy at work!

Q: What have you learnt during your time at Unruly?

IT: I’ve learned so many things! Some highlights have been learning to work with Linux, understanding site reliability engineering practices and ideas, and getting to grips with the infrastructure.

I’ve also gained a lot of auxiliary skills like improving my presentation and interviewing, communicating with stakeholders, running effective meetings, visualising work progress, researching stories, collaborating, giving feedback – the list goes on!

Q: Tell us about any side projects you’re working on.

IT: I want to contribute more to open source as our team has already released multiple open source projects. One of them is a set of Puppet modules for a base Centos 7 configuration.

It’s made me look into open source outside of Unruly. There are so many interesting projects available, and some of my favourites listed are at opensourcediversity.org. It’s a great place to look for first-timer issues! I’ve just completed my first pull request to one of the projects listed.

Q: It’s the weekend: what are you doing?

IT: I read! I read books about fantasy, magic, environmentalism, self-improvement and tech. I also spend time with my husband outdoors. We go to nature reserves, have picnics in parks, or just sit on the balcony and listen to podcasts together.

Q: What kind of challenges do the developers at Unruly tackle?

IT: Work flexibility is a somewhat of a challenge. Things like remote work and flexible hours are fairly new at Unruly and will take some time before they become frictionless. Part of the challenge is because we pair all the time and we’re all collocated. Therefore a lot of our knowledge is either on white boards or shared in person. It’s something that Unruly has been supportive of experimenting with and it’s definitely becoming easier. As a result it’s perfectly common now for me to do my 20% time from home and dial in if necessary.

Q: Describe the Unruly developer culture in three words:

IT: Thoughtful, curious, and kind.

Q: What music do you listen to whilst working?

IT: We don’t really listen to music at work, because we’re pairing virtually all the time. You’ll almost never see a dev with headphones, unless they’re catching up on their admin work. As for my music, I enjoy songs that fall under acoustic, folk or alternative metal. I have a small but growing collection of songs. I also purchase my music either directly from the musicians or from ethical music sellers where the majority of the revenue goes straight to the artist.

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

Meet some other members of the ProDev team!

Recent growth of audience targeting and programmatic implementation has downgraded the importance of environment as the focus for advertising placement. However, we believe that the value of environment in advertising is still an extremely important factor to consider when you are planning an ad campaign.

Recently there has not been much of a focus on the importance of environment in advertising. However there have been a number of independent studies that show the value of context in digital environments on a number of key business and brand measures.

The importance of context

Before we dive into the importance of context in advertising we need to understand how context affects the way we perceive information.

“Information is not processed neutrally. We are swayed by contextual cues.” – Richard Shotton, Deputy Head of Evidence at MG OMD

Take a look at these symbols…

The CAT symbolsTo most people when they look at the above symbols together they read ‘THE CAT’. However if you look closely you can actually see that the same symbol is used for the ‘H’ in ‘THE’ as the ‘A’ in ‘CAT’. Most people can’t tell this on first glance as our brains immediately see ‘THE CAT’ as we try to make sense of the symbols. This exercise demonstrates the impact that context has on our perception of information. 

Original beats social

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davies, Marketing Keynote Speaker

In 2012 AOP and comScore carried out a study to discover levels of trust among consumers. They found that 30% of consumers trusted publishers on social networks. Compared to 60% who trusted publishers on original content sites. Furthermore they found that only 23% of consumers trusted advertising they saw on social networks. While 45% of consumers trusted advertising they saw on original content sites.

The study also found that original content sites saw a 23% uplift over social networks in the usage of branded search terms. Consumers were also 153% more likely to visit an advertiser’s site after seeing their ad on an original content site, compared to social networks.

These results all point to the overwhelming fact that advertising on original content sites is measurably more effective versus other online media in delivering on all levels of the purchase cycle. From awareness all the way through to making a purchase.

So, where does the market stand on trust?

We ran a study in 2018 to find out how consumer trust has changed. We found that 43% of consumers say their trust in advertising on social media has fallen over the past year. 61% of consumers believe that more than 50% of the information they read on social media is fake.

These figures are not surprising given the amount of negative press that has surrounded social networks over the past year. Including the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal, brands boycotting YouTube due to their ads being displayed alongside inappropriate content, and the rise in fake news appearing on social networks.

The study also found that trust amongst consumers was 68% higher for information that appears on newspaper sites compared to social media. Reinforcing the fact that consumers still believe that premium environments offer higher credibility.

Why are premium environments still so effective?

As people aren’t aware of the way in which context impacts their perceptions, it can be hard to articulate why premium environments are so effective. However, removing explicit and conscious responses can give us a greater understanding of their impact.

In 2018 Newsworks ran a study by gathering data from consumers brains when they viewed ads in different environments. We created the below graph from the data they collected in order to show how ads in premium environments produce greater levels of engagement and long-term memory encoding amongst consumers compared to ads on social networks.

2018 Newsworks study graph

As we’ve seen, rather than just serving your ad to the right person, with the right message, at the right time, you also need to consider that it’s in the right place. It’s an overused phrase, but context is still king and the value of environment in advertising is still extremely important. With trust being at the forefront of consumer’s minds, especially when it comes to social media, it’s important to consider which environment you decide to post your ad on as it could make or break an advertising campaign.

To find out more about the importance of trust and environment in advertising, and to discover our unique emotional testing and targeting capabilities, exclusive premium inventory and industry-leading brand safety certifications, head over to our advertisers page or get in touch with one of our team filling in your details on our contact us page.

Our EMEA Managing Director, Jason Trout, talks about his experience of being on the mechanics of publisher monetization panel at ATS London.

This week I was part of a panel at ATS London 2018, which was focused on the mechanics of publisher monetization. I was joined by the Digital Sales and Innovation Director for The Telegraph Karen Eccles, Damon Reeve from the Ozone Project and Jourdain Casale, VP of Global Intelligence at Index Exchange. 

It was a really interesting panel to be a part of. Especially as publisher monetization continues to be a key talking point within our industry, and a key focus area for us as a business. We began the discussion by talking about how publisher monetization strategies have changed over the past 12 months.

New marketplaces

At Unruly we have seen first hand how premium publishers are slowly pulling away from tackling their competition individually, to a more collective approach. This has led to alliances and JV’s such as Ozone, the Verified Marketplace and the Premium Sport Marketplace. These marketplaces are becoming more and more popular among advertisers and it’s easy to see why when you look at the stats. The Verified Marketplace’s UK reach alone is over 39.4 million, and the average viewability of ads is 78.6%, which is 15.1% higher than the MOAT benchmark.

The conversation then moved to the shift in focus from open market-places, to a more closed and controlled market, and whether this presents an opportunity for publishers to develop closer relationships with advertisers.

I’ve heard buyers say for several years now that they want to transition from managed to programmatic ad delivery. At Unruly we’ve seen this trend play out firsthand but we’ve also seen an increase from the buy-side requesting guarantees in their programmatic deals.

As new models mature, like Programmatic Guaranteed (PG), you will see closer relationships forged between programmatic buyers and publishers. I believe this is a natural progression as models like PG closely mirror that of traditional IO and direct-sold business, where both buyer and seller negotiate directly.

consuming news on an ipad

PMPs versus programmatic

We then moved on to look at the scalability challenges with PMPs versus programmatic and automated guaranteed, and how they could be overcome. In my opinion, PMPs in their current guise will continue to offer both buyers and sellers an environment away from the open exchange to practice control. That said, we are seeing a growing trend from buyers to secure guarantees in their PMPs. This has resulted in the increase of programmatic guaranteed features we are seeing released from both buy and sell-side vendors.

When we talk about scale, traditional PMPs have always struggled to meet this requirement as there has never been a commitment from publishers to send volumes. At the same time, buyers have lacked commitments to spend. Programmatic guaranteed is evolving at exactly the right point in time. We know the holding costs are under immense pressure to become 100% programmatic and at Unruly, we believe PG sits at the intersection of the IO and legacy PMP. We expect it to be the catalyst to increased spends in programmatic this year.

Publisher monetization opportunities

Finally we touched upon new monetization opportunities, and what the tech layer is doing to help and support publishers with this. I believe we need to first understand the value of a publisher buying, rather than licensing. In some scenarios M&A is the logical path, that said, very few of the publishers I have spoken to actually have the appetite to start spending hundreds of millions on tech and data assets when they are fully aware that in the age of GDPR and social networks it is data, context, and service that help you to truly differentiate, not ad or martech ownership.

To find out more about the Verified Marketplace and our other offerings check out our products page. Alternatively get in touch with one of our team.

You can also keep up to date with the latest on publisher monetization and other adtech trends by following us on Twitter.

Unruly insights from ATS London

In this week’s episode of the Unruly Home Show Live, Elena Corchero chats to Charlotte Morris and Jo Osborne, the founders of SkinNinja, an exciting new app that uses AI to allow consumers to be more informed about their personal care products. Charlotte and Jo demo the app, discuss the idea behind it, and how it helps consumers to make better decisions about the products they use.

Dr Douglas ‘Data’ McIlwraith is Unruly’s resident data scientist. If you want to know more on machine learning, experimental methodology or ad optimisation, Dr Doug is your man. Aside from his work with Unruly’s Product Development Team, he’s also helped bring the world’s most prestigious AI and data conference to London. We sat down with him to find out more…

MS: Hi Doug. Can you tell us who you are and what you do here at Unruly?

DM: Certainly! I’m Dr Douglas McIlwraith, resident data science consultant for Unruly. I support all aspects of data science across the company – from working with our product development team on machine learning pipelines for advert optimisation, to helping our UnrulyEQ team develop the best experimental methodology. There’s so much to do, and we are only just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

MS: Talk us through a typical day.

DM: My day-to-day role is pretty varied, but it’s always focussed on pushing ourselves to make the best use of our data, and to create the best data products in market. I typically work with all areas of the business on this, from members of the executive team to product managers, software engineers, data engineers and other data scientists. It’s all about highlighting the possibilities of best practice in data science and allowing us to make the best product decisions so that, ultimately, we can go to market with the best data products in video advertising on the planet!

MS: Talk us through your connection with KDD2018. What is it?

DM: Sure! So KDD stands for Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. It’s widely recognised as one of the leading global meetings in the areas of machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science. It attracts up to 3,000 attendees with some of the most well recognised names in these fields.

Every year it moves to a new location, and cities are invited to bid to host the event. Two years ago, and with the support of the Unruly founders, I got together with Duncan Ray from Hackney council to place a bid for the event. I was blown away when I heard that we’d beaten some unbelievable competition to bring the event to London for the first time. I have a chair on the organising committee and I’ve worked closely with the other members to make this event the biggest and best data science meeting in it’s 24 year history!

MS: Sounds impressive. So what makes KDD2018 such a big deal, and what kind of issues will be discussed?

DM: KDD is so important because it is a truly interdisciplinary and applied research meeting. It’s not just theoretical insights, you’ll also get to see these ideas applied to massive datasets as well. Google, Facebook and Amazon are all regular contributors, and have a huge presence in our exhibitors hall. It’s really the best place to see the latest advances being worked on by the tech giants.

MS: Why should ad and media people pay attention to KDD?

There’s always a significant focus on advertising and media. I’m particularly looking forward to an invited talk by Dr Suju Rajan, Head of Research at Criteo who is going to discuss the technical challenges of computational advertising at scale. Criteo have been been making groundbreaking advances over the years, so just to hear their take on where we are now will be extremely valuable.

Suju is also running an amazing workshop called AdKDD: it’s a whole day dedicated to data science for computational advertising. There are also some really interesting advances in the areas of header bidding and optimal allocation of inventory from an SSP perspective in the main conference track, not to mention the Data and Journalism workshop that I’m organising.

MS: What’s the story with the workshop?

Dan Gilbert, who is Director of Data at News UK, and I joined forces to propose a whole day workshop on data in the media, as it seemed appropriate given the large number of media organisations in London. We ended up broadening the scope and joining up with other experts in the field to cover journalism as well. Now we’re working with organisers from Bloomberg, Darmstadt University, Zeit Online, IBM and the University of Illinois. We’ve got some great keynotes lined up. I can’t wait to hear what Maria Mestre from Factmata has to say about their work on fake news detection. It’s exceptionally relevant right now as advertisers are keen to ensure that they are not associated with poor quality content.

MS: What are you most looking forward to about KDD?

DM: I’m really excited about Deep Learning Day, which is a new initiative. They’ve got Andrej Karpathy, Director of AI Tesla giving a talk, so if you want to learn about the latest advances in self driving cars, this could be your chance. There are many, many other exceptional speakers, but Nobel Laureate Alvin E. Roth is definitely worth calling out. He won the Nobel Prize in 2012 for “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design”. This makes him spectacularly well qualified to deliver his keynote ‘Market Design and Computerized Marketplaces’. Given the growth and ubiquity of new marketplaces that are facilitated by smartphones, think AirBnB, Uber, Deliveroo, Didi etc, this is a really timely talk that I’m sure will be extremely illuminating.

MS: Finally, data science rules because….

DM: Data science rules because it has so much potential to be disruptive and transformative. We are seeing huge, positive advances in so many businesses and business verticals that have been enabled by access to the vast quantities of data we generate. It’s such an exciting time to be involved in the field. I’m really looking forward to pushing ahead at Unruly and seeing how we can use data science to provide the best experience for our clients and users.

Meet some other members of the ProDev team!

This month marks 10 years since Scott, Matt and myself started up Unruly.

From distributing our first campaign “Krumping – Matrix Style!” out of a leaky office in the Truman Brewery, in Shoreditch, (where it was *just about* possible to upload a video on the single ADSL line without crashing the system) to becoming a high-profile scale-up and part of the News family in 2015, the Unruly journey over the past decade has been incredible, exhilarating and beyond our wildest dreams.

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During the past two weeks, 33 media brands and digital upstarts made presentations at the fourth annual Digital Content NewFronts marketplace.

More than 250 stories about the event have appeared in Google News during the past fortnight.

Since no one can read them all, here are the top 10 news stories of the 2015 NewFronts:

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Being one of the world’s coolest brands certainly has its downsides. Just ask Apple. The life of the tech giant is apparently not too dissimilar to that of a medieval monarch: you’re essentially in charge, but that doesn’t stop them from making jokes and unflattering impressions of you behind your back.

So it was hardly a surprise when the launch of the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last month prompted a predictable backlash from disgruntled journalists and consumers alike.  From U2 to ‘Bendgate’,  Apple know all too well there are always brickbats among the bouquets.

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Volvo Trucks pranks a valet, the Xperia is unboxed underwater and Jeff Goldblum reveals the secret to great lighting. Yep, it’s just another week in AdLand! 

So which ads have caught fire on the web over the last seven days? Here are our five picks.

Enjoy!

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With more than 40 million highly-engaged users, Vine holds a lot of sway for brands looking to do something different with their marketing efforts.

However, with a tidal wave of short-form content engulfing the Open Web, it’s not always easy to find the best of the bunch. So if you’re looking for quality inspiration, you’re in safe hands here. In just 36 short seconds, you’ll know which brands are doing Vine just right.

In this week’s round-up we have a shopping extravaganza, a stop motion road map and a laptop-smashing session.

Enjoy!

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