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 The team started by taking over infrastructure projects that didn’t have an owner, and were getting pretty out-of-date.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!

Emotional ad campaigns create preference, lead to decisions and are about twice as effective as rational advertising. In order to stand out, and leave an impact on consumers, brands are continuing to push boundaries in their advertising.

This week our VP of Insights Becky Waring and our SVP of Data Sam Sherson gave a great talk on the main stage at Tech Retail in London on unlocking emotion in advertising. For those who missed it, we’ve taken some of the highlights from their talk and pulled out the key themes. 

Nike and LeBron James

This month Nike released a powerfully emotive ad as part of their ‘Just Do It’ 30th anniversary campaign. The new short film entitled ‘Dream Crazy’ features a number of athletes who are household names. All the athletes have leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.

On Labor Day Nike’s ad was launched in the US to huge debate and polarised opinion. This was mainly down to the use of Colin Kaepernick in their ads who controversially refused to stand during the American national anthem before NFL games.

According to Edison Trends, over the bank holiday weekend, online sales in the US for Nike grew an astonishing 31%. This demonstrates the power that emotional ad campaigns continue to have on audiences.

Driving sales with emotional ad campaigns

Using emotion to drive sales is a trend we continue to see across research studies. IPA ran a study around emotional advertising. They found that ‘emotional ad campaigns are more effective and more profitable than rational ad campaigns, even in rational categories’. 31% of emotional ad campaigns reported very large business effects after 1-2 years, compared to 16% for rational ads.

They also found that 43% of emotional ad campaigns reported very large business effects after 3 or more years. This was compared to just 23% for rational campaigns, indicating that ‘the longer the time frame, the more emotions drive profit’.

emotional ad campaigns vs rational ad campaigns chart

Nielsen ran a study in 2015 entitled Consumer Neuroscience. They found that ads with above average electroencephalogram scores delivered a 23% lift in sales volume, confirming the idea that emotions drive sales.

electroencephalogram scores

At Unruly, we tested thousands of videos and found an overwhelming correlation between emotional ad campaigns and sales.

correlation between emotional ad campaigns and sales

So how does it all work?

It was the great poet Maya Angelou who said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

We looked in our video testing database and analysed the UK retail category to uncover some powerful examples of the use of emotional advertising in this sector.

The most emotive retail ad we’ve ever tested in the UK is John Lewis’ ‘Buster the Boxer’ from Christmas 2016. However, with this being such a familiar example, we decided to look at a different emotive ad, ‘Come Home’ by German brand Edeka. Since this ad has been tested in both the UK and Germany, it gave us an opportunity to highlight how cultural differences affect emotional responses across different markets.

The video evoked a strong reaction in both countries. However, emotions ran much higher in Germany where people were more likely to feel surprise and shock. Whereas UK viewers were more likely to feel warmth. Our cultural analysis revealed that Germans have a more “concerned” cultural leaning than the UK. Meaning they worry about the impact that their behaviour has on themselves and others. Therefore the ad’s message of responsibility to others resonated particularly strongly in the ad’s native market.

Using objective frameworks

Without an objective framework like the one we used in our analysis, it can be very hard to know whether you have an accurate understanding of other cultures. This was illustrated at Tech Retail by playing a game with the audience to see if they could identify which markets were being described by the words “hurried, reserved, and restrained” vs “relaxed, uninhibited, and impulsive”. Becky revealed that these two seemingly opposing descriptions were in fact both referring to Americans. The first is how Mexicans see Americans, and the second is how they are perceived by the Japanese!

It became clear when ranking retail ads by emotional impact, that the top end of the chart was totally dominated by Christmas ads. So the analysis was split into “Christmas retail advertising” and “everyday retail advertising”. Outside of Christmas ads, retail advertising was considerably less emotive than the UK market norm. 11% lower than norm, whereas Christmas ads are 34% higher! Crucially, brand metrics like favourability (-17%) and intent to find out more (-7%) were also below par.

Becky and Sam’s closing advice for retailers?

Emotion is for life, not just for Christmas! Commit to an emotional ad strategy that is both long-term and consistent throughout the year. To this and your business will stand out in customers’ minds.

To find out more on how we use emotions to supercharge ad campaigns check out UnrulyEQ or get in touch with one of our team.

Unruly insights from Tech Retail

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

We’re carrying out a set of interviews with our ProDev team to find out what a day in the life of an Unruly developer looks like. This week we sat down with our Agile Coach Qaiser Mazhar to chat about his agile journey, becoming a father, and his love for gardening!

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

QM: Hey, I’m Qaiser Mazhar and I’m the Agile Coach at Unruly. I’ve been here for almost six months. I coach teams and individuals at Unruly to harness the benefits of agile principles and practices through a variety of ways including games, workshops, catch ups and meetings. I’ve also been known to write a line or two of code!

Q: How did you end up here?

QM: I found out about Unruly a long time ago when I attended XP meetups at the old offices. I used to also see Rachel Davies, Unruly’s former Agile Coach, at conferences and events.

I heard about the Agile Coaching role at Unruly through a headhunter. I was due to start at a different company shortly after hearing about the role, but when I found out that it was for Unruly, and that Steve Hayes had recently become the new CTO, I knew this was an opportunity too good to pass up! Steve worked at Goldman Sachs around the same time as me, which is where I discovered that Steve was an agilista.

Working at a company where the founders built agile into its DNA is really rare. I’m excited to see what we can achieve!

Q: Tell us about life before Unruly…

QM: I’ve always been a big techie at heart! I started my career off as a software engineer at Goldman Sachs where I helped the company navigate the 2008 financial crisis using XP and lean practices.

From Goldman Sachs I moved to Rightmove where I worked in a split role as a Technical Lead and Agile Coach. I helped Rightmove transform their legacy tech and practices so that they were fit for the future. This was one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences of my career to date. Echoing Rightmove parlance: in Agile, I had found my happy!

With success in digital transformation, I decided to take on a bigger challenge and so I joined Marks and Spencer as an Agile Coach and Delivery Lead. There was always amazing value to generate from supporting and growing multiple development teams, to improving communications between departments and supporting leadership teams. It wasn’t just any job, it was an M&S job!

Q: You’ve been on quite a journey! What draws you to this type of work?

QM: Working in a place where you can take a real-world problem, and turn it into an opportunity to create something that can improve the lives of millions of people on a daily basis is something I’ve been consistently drawn to in my career.

Moving from a Developer to an Agile Coach was a difficult choice but being able to support individuals, teams, and the wider business with their short, medium and long term challenges is incredibly rewarding. Working with everyone to cultivate a safe and sustainable environment where all Unrulies have a clear purpose, a pathway to mastery in the things we do, and the autonomy to get on with the task at hand is a continual process of improvement that is so varied that I am always learning and growing.

Q: How would you explain your job to your grandparents?

QM: I help my friends at work to discover and experiment with things that could help them work together better, delight our customers more often, and grow as a company in the long term, whilst having fun along the way.

Q: Tell us about something you’ve learnt while working here?

QM: I’ve learnt that not every fridge in the office is what it seems! (Editor’s note: Qaiser’s right, some of fridges have special properties!)

Q: Do you put your skills to work outside the office?

QM: I’m a London Java Community Associate, which is the steering group for the largest Java community in Europe.

Q: Got any side hustles?

QM: I used to have a side hustle in the recruitment tech space before joining Unruly. Becoming a new father and the fast pace of my day job meant I had to put that to bed.

For fun, I am considering creating an open source android app that combines elements of multiple productivity techniques alongside agile and lean practices. It’s on my to do list!

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

QM: My wife and I spend most of our weekends running after our son at activities and events! I love catching up with friends and family over coffees and dinners, and at home we’re keen gardeners so we spend most weekends working on our veg plot.

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

QM: There are always so many great ideas that our developers could be working on. As we grow parts of our business, some of our teams focus around scaling up our services so we can meet the increasing demand for existing services. We have teams that are focussed on thinking about future opportunities in areas like machine learning and big data. Then there are others building new features in existing services to break into new markets. It’s all very exciting and I’m always blown away by the things our developers do in their 20% learning time too!

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

QM: Working at Unruly during a time of massive growth is really interesting as an agile coach. Helping our teams scale, but still retain agile values by figuring out new ways of collaborating, prioritising and delivering value is really fun.

Q: And finally, what music do you listen to whilst working?

QM: I’m usually working with other people around the office but when I do have my headphones on I’m listening to Chillstep.

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!

DMEXCO Insights: This year’s DMEXCO is going to be fantastic! Not only does Unruly have one of the most epic stands we’ve ever had, but we’re also at a point in time when there has never been so much change, disruption, and opportunity within the digital advertising ecosystem.

Photo of the Unruly stand at DMEXCO 2016.

Here are seven questions that I believe will be the most debated topics at DMEXCO 2018, and I’ll be there to quiz some of the world’s biggest brands and advertisers on their thoughts around each one.

Where do brands sit on the bid caching debate?

Many have mooted the benefits for both the buy and sell sides of bid caching when executed in a transparent environment. Others feel there are too many risks associated with the practice, so I’m keen to see how the wind blows on this topic, as auction mechanics are often an emotive subject for all involved.

Who will own digital identity in 2019?

The walls get higher by the day, yet very few ask how brands and their agencies will manage the basics of media buying such as holistic reach, frequency and attribution. I’m keen to see what this will look like, especially considering that every vendor in the near future will be using their own proprietary ID rather than cookies.

What will data portability look like? Will DMPs fold into CDPs? How will attribution modeling work? Is there a need for an independent and agnostic media platform to sit below the walled garden that provides global brands with an ID clearing house/taxonomy, so they can plan and buy more efficiently in the face of ID blindness?

How are publishers winning post GDPR?

I’m looking forward to spending time with premium publishers at both ATS and DMEXCO to  see the unified auction set-up play out. I’m also interested in finding out how publishers are leveraging EBDA, S2S, client side, and a multitude of other configurations to capture and grow their digital revenues in 2018. I’m also going to be talking to publishers about the evolution of auction mechanics: 1st vs. 2nd price, how CMPs have empowered them, and their thoughts on what’s next for header bidding and identity.

How are traditional linear TV budgets migrating to addressable OTT environments?

You don’t have to be Bill Gates to come to the conclusion that the OTT (over the top) opportunity is going to big. It will be big for advertisers that struggle to reach the ‘cord cutter’ audiences who no longer sit in front of linear broadcasts, and it will be a huge revenue opportunity for streaming services like Netflix, should they finally decide to embrace the ad funded route. I also want to better understand how activation, measurement and identity are going to evolve in the OTT space, as many on the LUMAscape rush to conquer that territory.

How big is the audio opportunity?

Out of nowhere, audio programmatic has become big business (think Spotify and Pandora). Brands can now access this supply via direct sold or programmatic partnerships and it’s an area that often sits outside the challenges faced by digital display. As a result, audio programmatic is fast becoming an attractive canvas for marketers and their agencies.

There are still limitations when it comes to data-driven, impression-level buying that the buy side has to expect from programmatic execution. Because of this, I am keen to better understand how audio platforms are building to meet buyer requests in these areas.

Are there any real applications for blockchain in digital advertising yet?

There will be lots of debate at ATS about auction and fees transparency, and I think this year at DMEXCO, we will see a lot of vendors pushing the value of distributed ledgers via their blockchain offerings in order underpin, and address, some of the opaque practices that we have seen reported within the sector.

I’m interested to hear more about how blockchain can support contracts, gather opinions on the reconciliation process of digital advertising, chat about real-time bidding and if they feel speeds are quick enough in 2018.

How are big brands pulling programmatic activation in house?

I’m going to speak to brands who have pulled their programmatic activation in-house, or are planning to do so. I want to better understand their motivations for doing this, and find out how they are planning to manage areas like data and activation vendor selection, auction mechanics, and supply path optimization. I’m curious about the role consultancies may play in this scenario.

One thing is for sure, following the wave of ad and martech M&A we have already seen play out in 2018, the media noise around auction mechanics, publishers taking control post-GDPR, and with the noises made by the consultancies to enter (or invade) our sector, it’s going to be a great few days in Cologne. DMEXCO here we come!

If you are attending DMEXCO 2018 come and chat to us! Click here to book in a meeting slot.

We will be live tweeting from DMEXCO 2018! Click here and give us a follow to keep up to date with the latest news and insights from the event.

The way retail exists today looks very different to how it did 10 years ago. With this in mind we decided it was time to rip up the rule book and explore new ways that retailers can engage with their customers, both in stores and online.

At our recent Trust Talks: Future of Retail event, we sat down and quizzed three experts from the retail space; Elena Corchero, Futurist at Unruly, Ricardo Varela, CEO and Founder of Localistico and Joshua McBain, Director of Consultancy at the Foresight Factory.

A recent report states that over the next 20 years, between 50% and 75% of transactions will be going globally through the Alibaba, Walmart and Amazon platforms. With this in mind, what opportunities are there for retailers to carve a niche as we see consumer behaviour is changing so greatly?

Joshua McBain (JM): The type of impact that these changes will have on different brands depends on their customer groups, and the type of loyalty that they invoke with their customers. The key thing to understand for brands in this space is what the impact is going to be on your brand vs other brands based on your type of loyalty, positioning, and what you sell.

Ricardo Varela (RV): If you look at Amazon, they have recently done a lot of work with the Whole Foods brand by bringing it into the digital space. Going forwards, brands are going to have to decide the best way to reach their consumers, whether that be through digital channels, through physical stores, or through a combined outreach.

Elena Corchero (EC): Looking to the future, I wonder whether Brexit will change the availability of people that work within the delivery space. I also think that driver-less cars will bring about a real change in terms of shipping costs for retailers.

Thinking about Amazon, Alibaba and Walmart, a huge part of their future growth will revolve around voice. How can you see voice helping other retailers, and what opportunities does it present to them that we aren’t currently thinking about?

EC: I believe the car is going to be the biggest driver of voice command over the coming years. Using voice commands to carry out actions whilst you are driving is a necessity compared to when you are at home, where you have the choice to use voice or type in the command to your phone.

The main way voice will impact retailers through car is via impulse purchases. If we think about KitKat, previously they relied on consumers who were away from the home seeing or hearing an advert, remembering it, and then going out of their way to find somewhere that sold it. Whereas now you can take instant action by saying add to basket whilst you are driving, and by the time you get home the KitKat might be there.  

JM: What I think is interesting is the innovations that Microsoft are leading on, which is allowing brands to tailor their tone of voice depending on what service it’s coming from. For example talking to your BMW should sound different than if you were to talk to your Amazon Echo. Consumer’s don’t expect every service to sound the same and many brands are now becoming aware of that, and are starting to act upon it.

If you are a global retailer, how are you able to consider new trends and technologies to engage with your customers at a local level?

RV: Working at a local level is extremely important within the retail sector. Looking at Morrisons as an example, they have created creches in their stores that are located in areas where a lot of families live. Apple also state that each of their stores are unique, and what is in each store is different depending on where it is based.

It’s also important to use the technologies we have to communicate with customers by letting them know what services are available to them. A lot of the time brands will offer additional services like an in store creche, but people will not know about it because the brand has not done a great job of communicating it to their local audience.

“Where marketing starts and e-commerce ends is becoming increasingly blurred”

Is there a way that advertising can add real value, and become part of the end to end consumer experience within the media space?

EC: At Unruly we are studying this within the Home. Over the past year we have learnt that one of the advantages of advertising through the IoT, through voice, and through immersive technologies like VR in the home is that it all becomes part of this ambient era of advertising. Going forward this will hopefully help consumers to see advertisements as adding value to their lives rather than seeing them as interruptions.

JM: Where marketing starts and e-commerce ends is becoming increasingly blurred and I believe that we will see this continue as big social channels like Snapchat and Instagram become more and more shoppable. Social channels will become a great way for brands to work on a much more personal level with their customers, and will give them the ability to personalise their products and prices depending on the customer they are targeting.

We are looking to a world where most services will become automated. My fridge will be able to scan my items and automatically replace them so that I never run out of anything. With this in mind, does that mean that retailers are in danger of becoming more like logistics companies?

EC: I think it’s an advantage as having all that data and machine learning will allow companies to know exactly how much stock they need to hold in different areas.

What is also exciting is the way that AI will work within these situations. For example with the fridge, it could recommend different recipes that it thinks you would like depending on the foods that you enjoy eating on a regular basis. In order to complete the recipes you may be required to order in new ingredients which then opens the door up to new food brands.  

This Q&A was held at Unruly’s Future of Retail event in London. To see any of the insightful presentations available from the event, click on any of the below links to check them out:

“Convenience vs. Experiential : The retail trend landscape in 2018”, Joshua McBain, Director of Consultancy, Foresight Factory

How to empower brands in the home of the future”, Elena Corchero, Futurist, Unruly

“How startups can predict the future of retail”, Justin Cross, Head of Blink UK, MediaCom, Ricardo Varela, Founder, Localistico, Stepan Lavrouk, Customer Engagement Manager, Gyana AI

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.

(more…)

Europe is rude, the future has four legs and animals are best buds.

Sound strange? Well, it’s just another week in AdLand.

Here’s the five best ads Unruly have been sampling this week.

Enjoy!

(more…)