Talking with Mike Smith

Mike Smith, Senior Director of business development across the EMEA region spoke to us about his role, team and the challenges that publishers are facing today. 

What is your role at Unruly? 

I am senior director for business development across the EMEA region. What that effectively means is that me and my team manage new business relationships with publishers and broadcasters. We show them how they can use our supply product, the Unruly SSP, for monetisation and also the Spearad platform, which was purpose-built specifically for TV broadcasters and TV content providers to deliver seamless, TV-like ad experiences across CTV/OTT and linear addressable environments. Who is in your team? I have a small team at the moment, working with Harry Rowland and Emmanuel Okorodudu, and we are hiring for one more person right now. 

What are some of the biggest challenges that publishers are facing today when it comes to monetising their inventory? 

I think if we look at CTV, publishers and broadcasters are looking at how they grow their scale. FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) is a huge opportunity, but one of the challenges that they’re going to have is figuring out who’s buying it and where does that sit? If you go to media agencies, they’ve got TV buying groups, they’ve got digital buying groups, they have VoD groups, so there’s always that challenge about where it sits. Another big challenge I think is how do they measure their CTV? When we think about TV we think about BARB, but with CTV, it is still very nascent and  figuring out how to measure audience stats is not easy, and then deciding on the right campaign metrics, and deciding how to measure those campaign stats in a uniform way. I guess from a publisher perspective it’s also about understanding which partners are best suited to you, because you can plug in loads of SSP’s and find out they are all essentially plugged into the same DSP’s, meaning that the incremental demand delivered by each new partner is negligible. 

Publishers also have the challenge of ensuring that CTV ad breaks are delivered to the same high standard as traditional linear ad breaks. This requires smart thinking and good technology! It’s important to look at all demand holistically to ensure rules are followed, such as competitive separation and no repeat ads, which may require far more campaigns than linear TV given the targeting options of CTV. Airtime is valuable so start thinking about revenue per second within the ad break, and higher value placements.

How are Unruly looking to solve some of those challenges for publishers? 

Firstly, by making sure that our technology is cutting edge, and that it provides all of the features that publishers need, but ultimately it’s about what incremental demand we can bring that is going to add value to to their team. A lot of publishers we work with obviously still have a large direct sales function, so we need to make sure that we’re bringing the demand that they aren’t necessarily accessing. Some of our CTV publishers are asking us to bring in digital video demand, that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to as one example. We have a creative services team, so when we’re talking to agencies, we do have the ability to create unique ad units that are a bit more bespoke and more innovative.  

Final question, why do you work in AdTech?  

It’s a great question! I guess I kind of fell into it if I’m honest. I was working in the mobile space, more on the demand side actually, at a small ad network. I also worked at AOL in the publisher services team, which is very much selling ad serving adtech products into third-party publishers. I just enjoy providing technology to publishers in an ever-evolving space.