Q&A: REA Group Head of Media Strategy & Operations Jonas Jaanimagi

The portfolio of REA Group includes Australia’s number 1 property site, realestate.com.au which attracts more than 18.6m visitors per month according to Nielsen.

Ahead of our Marketplace Summit in Sydney on 20-21 March, we caught up with REA Group’s Head of Media Strategy and Operations, Jonas Jaanimagi, to find out more about the company’s approach to advertising automation, private marketplaces and technology as an enabler for freeing its staff to focus on innovation and creativity.

Could you give us a brief introduction to REA Media?

REA Media provides brands with access to the audiences on market-leading residential and commercial real estate websites, realestate.com.au and realcommercial.com.au.

The websites are visited by almost half of Australia’s online population over any 12-month period and in 2013 accounted for an average of 78% of total minutes spent on property portal sites.

The usage across all devices continues to grow as the business broadens out its consumer offerings by aligning to the REA Group’s core purpose of helping people to live their property dreams by making the entire property process simple, efficient and stress free.

Please could you outline your advertising automation strategy up to this point?

We have worked hard on openly providing our inventory to the buy side via real-time bidding initially, in order to manage the yields and sell-through rates of any discretionary inventory – and more recently to more efficiently and effectively execute our premium and/or data-enriched deals through private marketplaces.

What were your main reasons for partnering with Rubicon Project?

I started working with Rubicon Project in the UK back in 2009 and have always been very happy as a customer with regards to the levels of service and consultative approach.

What were the top hurdles internally to overcome in adopting your advertising automation strategy?

The top three hurdles are similar to anything that is relatively new in any business environment – perception, education and managing the appetite for risk.

Alongside that you need to be able to build out the infrastructure in terms of both dedicated specialist staff and technology that can support a plan that positions your programmatic strategy at the very heart of any media business, not on the periphery.

Where does advertising automation fit versus your overall monetisation strategy?

Increasingly right at the very centre.

Much of our business remains admin heavy, so I will always see an urgent requirement for technology to continuously improve what we are doing. Technology however, must always remain a tool and never become the master.

People will always be our most important asset and must be freed up to do the creative and innovative work that they truly want to be doing and which ultimately will provide the most commercial value.

What do you expect as the next steps in the development of advertising automation, both in the wider industry and for your own business?

The future for us all in the programmatic space lies in unlocking the value of data, the automation of menial tasks by machines and providing actionable insights into attribution in real-time.