Unsung Heroes - the client services manager: John Ross Aban, Integral Ad Science

The Drum's 'Unsung Heroes' series is a celebration of the people in the industry who slog hard behind the limelight for their companies, brands and clients. As they are seldom in the spotlight for their contribution to the success of campaigns, this is their time to shine.

A triathlete outside of his job as a client services manager at Integral Ad Science, John Ross Aban says one of his biggest challenges in his job (which people often mistake as an account management role) is filling up the knowledge gap within the industry about media quality and verification.

Why is your job important?

As a client services manager, my role is responsible for delivering world-class support to our global clients for their digital advertising campaigns.

My job is to lead the activation and implementation of IAS solutions with clients to ensure accurate and maximum measurement of media quality data. I also provide subject matter expertise to our sales and account management as well as clients in terms of best practices and IAS solutions and capabilities.

What is the hardest and stressful part of your job?

One of the greatest challenges of a SEA Client Services role is managing a wide variety of advertisers and agencies across 13 different markets. Each market having different requirements and limitations, often with multiple campaigns running concurrently, so it is extremely important to manage my time well.

Additionally, as our industry and solutions are ever evolving it is vital I dedicate time to keeping up-to-date with any changes not only internally but also within the market.

I would say that the stressful part of my job is the challenge in filling the knowledge gap within our industry about media quality and verification. In the past, we have been educating the industry on the importance of using a third-party media verification vendor that ensures advertising campaigns are viewable, run on a brand safe environment and are free from ad fraud.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is that I am always learning because of the constantly changing adtech space and being part of a company that is global makes it an even better workplace. It is good to see how much growth our team has had in that past year and we are still continuing to grow with the company.

Being in a regional role, I get to work with different people across 13 markets from media agencies, publishers to trading desks. Working closely with various partners, I get exposed to a lot of platforms and in the process, I gain friends along the way.

What's the first thing that comes to people’s minds when you tell them your job?

Often people assume a client services manager is simply an account manager.

How would you correct/explain to them what you do then?

Depends who I’m talking to: if they work in the industry I would explain that I’m responsible for the implementation and optimisation of IAS’s solution across digital campaigns. i.e. whatever the sales team sell, we make it happen.

Otherwise, if were say my Grab driver, I would explain that IAS helps advertisers assess the quality of the media they buy online - ensuring that an ad is seen, seen by a human, and seen next to content that aligns with their brand. (i.e. an airline wouldn't want to be next to an airline accident article). My job is to enable that technology for clients.

Is there anything you want to change in your job?

Even with the technological advancements, there are still constraints within the market which effect how we work with different partners as well as clients. One example is the walled gardens which, in the past, have not allowed any third-party media verification.

IAS is working on a whole bunch of automation that would help ease some of our day-to-day work, giving us more time to do more consultative work with our clients, which is what I currently love about my role.

Which was the campaign that you worked on, that you are most proud of?

I would say all our campaigns are equally important and that I’m proud whenever we help the client in maximize their media spend by reducing wastage and making sure all are of good quality buys.

Having said that, I would like to highlight the work done with one of clients – a luxury brand. Working closely with the agency along with other partners and publishers, we have been successful in making sure the campaigns are being shown to real users and preventing them appearing in unwanted websites.

There were challenges initially in terms of implementation and tracking but with the cooperation from all parties, we were able to find a resolution along with best practices in terms of using IAS as its media verification partner.

Who is someone you want to emulate in your industry?

Our senior vice president of global client services, Karlie Santucci. She is very passionate and knowledgeable in everything IAS (and the industry), which is truly admirable and inspiring. I like how she takes care of her team globally and is the driving force behind the award-winning client services team.

If you weren’t a client services manager, what would you be?

If I weren’t a client services manager, I would probably be professional triathlete. Ever since I got into the sport, I’ve always wanted to do it full-time as a pro.

Whenever I’m not in the office working or at a client meeting, you would probably see me running in the park or cycling around the island during my spare time and on weekends.

If you think of someone who deserves to be part of this series, please get in touch with Shawn Lim and nominate them. You can read the previous feature on the premium marketplace manager, here.