#AWEurope Q&A: Marco Bertozzi, Exec MD EMEA VivaKi

In advance of our Advertising Week Europe panel this Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 10am – Agency Trading Desks: Guaranteed Delivery? – The 1st Annual Real Time Trading Update from Europe’s Buy Side, I sat down for a Q&A with Marco Bertozzi, Executive Managing Director EMEA at VivaKi.

Need a ticket to our panel discussion? Register for your place on the Advertising Week site.

SEARS: Tell us about VivaKi:

VivaKi is a business unit of Publicis Groupe designed to accelerate transformation across the agencies, helping them navigate the evolving and chaotic landscape through scalable products, solutions and partnerships that advertisers need to today, while incubating the tools they will need for tomorrow.

PLEASE TELL US:

What countries are you active in?

VivaKi’s Audience On Demand has services available in 12 European markets from UK to Russia

What countries are you entering this year?

We will continue to expand with markets such as Turkey, Israel and Czech Republic.

How many employees globally?

Worldwide 300+

SEARS: What are VivaKi’s three biggest initiatives in Europe for 2013?

BERTOZZI: We have a core focus in 2013 on the launch of the European AOD Hub. This is a market leading iniative to create a centre of excellence across Product, Tools and activation to service the whole region. We believe this is the most advanced unit of its type and will create an incredibly disciplined and consistent product across the region for our advertisers.

SEARS: How are you working with the operating agencies in your holding company?

BERTOZZI: One of our core focus beliefs is that the agencies are our clients and we work with them on that basis making sure we deliver a strong product and immaculate service delivery. We have always worked with our agencies in a collaborative way, right from the start and have never mandated AOD so we have a very positive relationship. The agencies pass us valuable feedback and we carry out training and constant updates in what is a very fast paced business.

SEARS: If part of the push is your involvement earlier in process, at the time of planning, how much of buying today is programmatic and how much of a plan could be programmatic?

BERTOZZI: This varies by client to client. Some clients from some agencies are incredibly close to this part of the industry and get involved with the agency and AOD’s development within this space pushing us to do something new and something big. So in some instances it could be 25% of a plan. Other times it could be 80% and in some instances it is 100% or as close as it can be.

SEARS: If successful in the long term, do trading desks essential become a fully integrated, back office function?

BERTOZZI: Everyone will approach this differently but Publicis Groupe has been investing in Audience On Demand since 2008 and I see no slowing in that focus, on that basis we hope to be a fundamental part of not just of the media agency business but the whole Groupe. We have been heavily supported by the agencies up to this point and cannot see any reason for that to change.

SEARS: Let’s talk about direct deal automation and the path to programmatic guaranteed. From our global vantage point we see the European market leading the way in direct deal automation. Premium publishers such as The Guardian, the La Place consortium, the Telegraph, ebay, Hearst and News International etc have embraced direct deals and so have the trading desks. We believe 2013 is the Year of Programmatic Guaranteed —where SSPs and DSPs will allow trading desks to deliver guaranteed budgets.

SEARS: Is your trading desk capturing guaranteed budgets today or do you plan to in 2013?

BERTOZZI: We deal only in well forecasted spends against a particular publisher using the existing RTB functionality. We have put the foundations and the strategy in place of what a programmatic guaranteed means for us and have made incredible use of the private marketplace solutions, we believe well ahead of the market based on spend analysis. We naturally started to formulate the programmatic guaranteed product. Right now we are waiting for the publishers and the pipes/tech to allow this to become a reality.

SEARS: What technical and supply components are needed in the market today to deliver guaranteed budgets that are not widely available?

BERTOZZI: If we want to continue using a data driven RTB approach then forecasting tools on the publisher side will be a primary need. Features within DSP’s to handle programmatic guaranteed to control the campaigns and still provide the optimisation capabilities a dynamic buy. Publishers also need to give these types of buys the same priority a direct buy would get across the same inventory a direct buy would get. These both need to be achieved.

SEARS: How are RFPs used between your operating agency clients, your desk and a DSP? What does a “programmatic IO” or a “Programmatic RFP” look like?

BERTOZZI: The clue is in the title with us, Audience On Demand, we are about reaching audiences and not using the trade desk to undermine cpms of publishers. Although the inventory is a major part of the jigsaw our briefs and responses relate to audience and data strategies rather than the sites we run across. We are building out Audience On Demand Premium which will combine a slightly more defined publisher list and this may see the ‘programmatic IO’ evolve.

SEARS: What assurance can you give publisher CROs that programmatic guarantee is in fact an enhancement to their direct selling effort and not an end run around their selling channel?

BERTOZZI: We work with publishers very collaboratively and so we believe we have proved out our approach and ‘Race to the bottom’ is not it. We have seen evidence that suggests we buy at appropriate cpms to reach the audience and don’t just bid at 50 cents to create mass, cheap reach. We have the trust of our publishers and we know that we have to both benefit or this will all evolve into an old school adversarial relationship.

SEARS: Does programmatic guaranteed have to be delivered via RTB?

BERTOZZI: There is an ever evolving number of constituents to this programmatic business, RTB, guaranteed buys, data, publisher relations, a number of closed ecosystems like Amazon and Facebook amongst others. Our focus is to create a centre of excellence in programmatic area in whatever form it comes. I would like to see a system that holds true to the new data driven approach and not turn into the DDS of the web ideally but one thing is for sure you need to be prepared to adapt!

SEARS: Why is guaranteed budget delivery so important? Is it important?

BERTOZZI: In our current world of planning and buying it is necessary to allow the agency / advertiser model work in this new space. That said I believe we will see a large percentage of display being traded like search with an always on, constantly changing, always open IO. Different strategies can be turned on an off and we can focus wherever the need presents itself. Perhaps the majority of digital will no longer be on a campaign basis and guarantee will not be as important as everyone believes now.

SEARS: What is the importance of 1st party publisher data in direct programmatic deals? Is this being utilized because of the strength of 1st party publisher data or the overall weakness / lack of availability of 3rd party data in European markets? Does 1st party data scale?

BERTOZZI: We have seen 1st party publisher data work incredibly well and scale well dependent on the clients/advertisers we have worked with. Nearly always it works better than 3rd party data but the scale does vary by client. We use and buy the data in conjunction with a publishers impression. We have progressed 1st party data via private marketplaces alongside our 3rd party data usage. In markets where 3rd party data doesn’t exist then absolutely 1st party data via private marketplaces is the only option.

SEARS: On average, is mobile and or video more than ten percent (each) of a typical budget allocation? More or less? And how will this change in 2013?

BERTOZZI: Video is close to 30% of our business at the moment. Mobile is a smaller percentage but we expect healthy growth this year. Agencies are committing to increasing spend in mobile due to clients appetite for mobile and the newest targeting opportunities and increasing adoption from the consumer market. The infrastructure in mobile we all know still needs more work and standardization of not only formats but information available in mobile and how will help to drive the growth. Creativity in mobile is still an issue, we need to see beyond the banner without paying the rates for the sort of Ads that Apple would like you to buy.

SEARS: Can direct deal automation for mobile accelerate faster than display [because there is less traditional buying and selling infrastructure around this]? Or will it be adopted at the same pace of display? What about video?

BERTOZZI: Mobile has wider challenges in my view than worrying too much about guaranteed buys. Creatvity, inventory quality, targeting and infrastructure will come first.

SEARS: Viewability. The IAB is working on 3MS and a viewability standard. How are you thinking about viewability—for measurement? For billing? Is the industry ready?  

BERTOZZI: I have no argument with the proposal, I would like to see it carried out in less of a rush with some clear plan that everyone can get behind. We flog ourselves in the industry and always have done with more and more metrics and so before we introduce another one, let’s have a strategy behind it. Too many companies on the buy and sell see this as an easy opportunity to try and create a pitch promise without understanding realities. As an aside I would like to see advertisers shine the light on their TV and Press activity at the same time.

SEARS: All of you work for global companies. What are your US counterparts most surprised by when they visit? What are you most surprised by when you look at your firms US operations and market?

BERTOZZI: I would split things into two. At a country level they often forget how close we all our geographically and so can manage relationships, create engagement and agreement very easily and usually do things strategically to create spend shift. The US work on the basis of an enormous spend opportunity to hit spends etc. At a regional level, when they genuinely spend time to get to know the countries they realize that actually it is a genuinely complicated market place and needs some adaptability. When I am in the US I am in awe of the scale and fragmentation across the country.

Tell Us a bit more about you:

SEARS: What’s your Favorite Football Team?

BERTOZZI: Northampton Town.

SEARS: What’s your favorite question when interviewing a prospective employee?

BERTOZZI: Less a question, more a tactic. I often imply I may know someone at their organisation and ask the candidate if I were to get in touch with that person and ask what they were like – what their response would be. I tend to find the truth comes out.

SEARS: If your co-workers picked a single word to describe you, what would it be?

BERTOZZI: Relentless

SEARS: What did you do last weekend?

BERTOZZI: Played golf, watched the rugby and Formula 1 and stayed with friends for dinner and family fun. I also sat late at night on Sunday writing these answers.

Thanks Marco!

Marco Bertozzi is Executive Managing Director, EMEA VivaKi Nerve Center. He started his career in TV, moving into digital in 2000. A founding member of Zenith Interactive Solutions, Zenith’s then digital arm, he enjoyed the highs and lows of the digital revolution, leaving Zed in 2005 as Commercial Director. After a couple of years as Marketing Director for ZenithOptimedia Marco moved to Head of Digital for the agency in 2007.  A change of scene in 2008 saw him heading off to run media, web dev, digital and Creative at TMP Worldwide.

Currently Managing Director of The VivaKi Nerve Center, EMEA, the future facing digital entity at VivaKi, he focuses on the three core pillars of Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. All these strategies are designed to help power the major agencies of ZenithOptimedia, SMG, Razorfish and Digitas. Core projects include leading the strategy for Ad Exchange trading across the VivaKi agencies and The Pool, the unique global innovation project based around video and tablets.