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Q&A: AMNET UK COO Sacha Bunatyan

Q&A: AMNET UK COO Sacha Bunatyan

Sacha-BunatyanIn the latest of a series of interviews, we spoke to Sacha Bunatyan, COO of Aegis’ trading desk AMNET to get her views on real-time bidding, private marketplaces and data:

Can you give me an overview of your company’s involvement in real time bidding so far?

AMNET is the trading desk for Aegis. Our goal is to re-invent the supply side of media for the benefit of all stakeholders. We apply a fully programmatic approach to delivering audiences across display, VOD and mobile and a major part of our trading is done through RTB. Our focus is on delivering more effective media across both performance and brand campaigns. Effectiveness in this context is in terms of our clients’ performance but also in terms of media owner yields.

To what extent is the private marketplace phenomenon a response to the requirements of the demand side?

Private marketplaces are a natural evolution of the marketplace. We are focussed on delivering audiences in brand safe environments, and private marketplaces are one of the tools that help us to ensure that. They also enable us to have more direct conversations with our partners which in turn help us to improve their yield compared to open exchanges.

AMNET has been an innovator in this space – our team worked with the technology providers to shape and deliver the Deal ID functionality that supports private marketplace relationships with media owners. As a result of this we are now able to define the rules of engagement through these deals that deliver benefits for all parties. Private marketplaces support our drive for transparency in our relationships with media owners, allowing for a fair value exchange for audiences and media space.

Are private marketplaces really closing the gap between premium direct and automated trading?

Having tested the waters in DR and ’remnant’ inventory, many brands and media owners are ready to take programmatic trading up the value chain. This would include more targeted, more valuable (premium) inventory and as such private marketplaces are creating further opportunities to close the gap, but further development will require media owners (and trading desks) to operate in an even more open, transparent and accountable manner.

With the growth of automation, how do you think publisher sales teams need to evolve, and what will the future shape of the sales organisation look like?

First and foremost, publishers need to invest in truly understanding the value of their audiences, which in the past has, at best, been inconsistent and at worst was given away to the networks for no return. Publishers need strong sales people, who understand the value of audiences and know how to connect them to the relevant brands/advertisers.

Furthermore, we would like to see publishers be open-minded about the opportunities the programmatic trading space provides instead of seeing it as a threat. We realise that this would demand greater openness on the buy side too, and to AMNET that transparency is a significant benefit of private marketplace trading.

To be clear, though, both sides still need good people to manage direct AND programmatic relationships. The facilitation of the transaction itself will be supported by the technology, allowing for scale and pace; however the relationships are still managed by people.

To get the best out of the programmatic space, publishers and trading desks need to have dedicated resources and to up-skill their teams to be able to draw the full value of the programmatic space.

It’s important to note that this is happening in equal measures across the whole ecosystem, not just on the sell side.

What are your views on publishers’ first party data and its place in your approach to private marketplaces?

We invite media owners to transact with us on audience data as well as media. We are currently working out the proof of concept but see this as essential to the successful development of private marketplaces.

What role do you see Connect playing in automating these deals?

While its true value is yet to be determined, Connect provides a great opportunity for us to buy packages of data as well as media and is therefore very interesting.

How do you see this market developing in future?

We are very excited about the future and expect further steep growth for programmatic trading. This is an opportunity for us to reinvent the way we interact with media owners and to create open and transparent partnerships that add value throughout the sales chain.

Specifically, we see growth in RTB for brand advertising and through the inclusion of more engaging ad units, such as rich media, VOD, page takeovers, etc. The pace of development will only quicken!