business insider

Q&A: Business Insider UK & Europe MD Julian Childs

This week Business Insider has launched a UK version of its popular business news website. We spoke to Managing Director for UK and Europe Julian Childs to find out more about Business Insider’s approach to advertising automation, data and private marketplaces.

Q: Can you give an overview of Business Insider’s approach to advertising automation?

A: With our business developing rapidly worldwide, our approach currently combines both selling via open auction and private marketplaces globally, with the latter efforts including first party data wherever possible.

As one of the most developed markets for programmatic, we see the UK as a great opportunity to accelerate our work in this arena even further, pushing formats and executions to this channel that would normally only be available via direct sales. This includes a range of high impact ad formats and full page takeovers sold via private marketplaces.

Essentially, we are trying to maximise our reach and the opportunities around direct orders in every way that the Rubicon Project platform allows. And we see this type of approach as key to how a digital-only business is set up for the future – a holistic approach, not siloed by sales channel.

In 2014, a media sales person saying “I can’t do that, speak to someone else” is just not good enough. Our approach is focussed on connecting to as many buyers as possible.

Our content reaches the business leaders of today and tomorrow. Our approach to sales needs to be forward-thinking too.

Q: And what does Business Insider consider as the main benefits of advertising automation?

A: This is an area of the industry that is awash with buzzwords. And, perhaps as a result, different publishers, advertisers and even technology platforms are both thinking and talking about it differently. Defining clearly what you are actually doing and how that approach ties back to your individual business is key.

Clearly automation creates efficiency. But it’s a mistake to think it’s all about cost cutting and computers replacing people. In our view, it’s not just about the efficiency of the process. It’s also about thinking strategically about where there are new opportunities to grow our business.

And the need for people to be out there building relationships and interacting with buyers isn’t diminished. If anything, it’s more important than ever. The opportunities out there are as great as ever for the digitally savvy salesperson.

Q: What is your view on 1st party data, and where that fits into your approach to private marketplaces?

A: For publishers, content and audience data are obviously your two key assets. Our aim at Business Insider is to make full use of both – packaging first party data with inventory via private marketplaces wherever possible. This is particularly important as we continue to see higher value branding campaigns shift to this channel.

The benefits of this approach above all centre around security and maintaining control. But for buyers, it is also about being able to use these data assets in creative ways and continuing to expand on actionable knowledge of digital audiences and how they behave.

This whole area remains a major focus for us.

Q: What were your main reasons for partnering with Rubicon Project?

A: There were a number of factors in our decision:

  • Rubicon Project is a leader in this space, especially where private marketplaces are concerned. As mentioned above, private marketplaces are a key emphasis for us.
  • We take a unified and global approach to content and have a similar approach to the commercial side of our business. Hence we seek a unified platform from a truly global partner like Rubicon Project.
  • Finally, the service Rubicon Project provides is second to none. We genuinely feel like the company has people who can advise us: it’s a much deeper relationship than just plugging into a technology.

Q: How much of your audience is mobile, and what are your views on mobile advertising – particularly the role of programmatic for mobile?

A: We’ve been open in saying that our audience is now about 50% mobile. Our mobile audience is a younger demographic than desktop, as you might expect, and we’re very comfortable with that.

The companies that will be successful over the next 20 years will likely be the ones that succeed on mobile. We see advertising solutions for mobile developing all the time, device-agnostic native placements among them.

Q: What are your views on the automation of high impact ads, rich media and full-page takeovers?

A: We’re actually launching our UK business with a specific emphasis on this.

Our view is that in 2014, if you’re still making business decisions as a publisher based on sales channel, you’re in a weak position. Having to prioritise your structure over your business needs is clearly not where you need to be.

We believe that you need to be as open as possible, avoiding protectionism and internal competition wherever possible and testing the limits of what technology allows you to do.