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Spotify programmatic sales boss: we can’t prioritize data over creativity

By Andrew Blustein, Reporter

June 11, 2019 | 4 min read

Even as Spotify, Adobe and Google trek across Europe together to get advertisers to make programmatic audio a larger portion their media plans, industry professionals are still working to understand a quickly developing medium. Spotify’s global head of automation sales Julie Clark had some answers.

Spotify's Clark said audio ads are relatively cheap to produce, so creative possibilities abound

Spotify's Julie Clark said audio ads are relatively cheap to produce, so creative possibilities abound

As the popularity of programmatic audio swells, the industry shouldn't sacrifice creativity in favor of data, Clark advised attendees at The Drum’s Programmatic Punch US event in New York.

“We've focused so much on data analytics, and we forget about the marketing part of it and the creative aspect of it,” Clark said during a panel discussion on adtech predictions. “I think there's a huge opportunity for us there.”

That opportunity, Clark pointed out, is most impactful for publishers that work in unison with an advertising partner's creative team to develop impactful assets that can complement data-driven decisioning.

“When you partner with a client, understanding what different times a day a creative message could be shared... is the sort of things that we can start to look at [when] we infuse the data and streaming intelligence that we have with the creative execution and the output the client is looking for,” said Clark, who also noted that publishers often excel at optimizing the user experience.

Sara Badler, senior vice-president of programmatic revenue and strategy at digital media company Dotdash, echoed this during the panel, saying publishers don’t always have access to advertiser data. Therefore, a publisher’s internal creative team needs to work closely with a client to develop assets that fit the tone of a given medium.

“How does that creative strategy team work with the agency's creative strategy team so we are actually aligned and know what [you're] looking for? I think that's the biggest conversation,” said Badler.

Clark said audio is relatively cheap to produce, which opens opportunities to test and learn, and to be “extremely creative within that environment.”

Within audio, though, is podcasting, a medium where programmatically transacted inventory could compromise the endearing appeal of host-read ads.

However, Spotify’s programmatic boss said the industry needs to think holistically instead of planning buys in silos. So, for example, programmatic audio buys should be just one touchpoint within a larger media plan.

Selin Cebeci, global digital director at MediaCom, said this type of cross-channel holistic planning in digital environments can help transform programmatic advertising into an awareness tool.

“I think having more holistic planning, upper-funnel inventory comes into play. I think the implications of that will be different from where you stand,” Cebeci said during the panel discussion.

“Having more upper funnel inventory, I think, will democratize the industry in a way that [now allows] a small or medium-size company [to] play a branding game. That will bring more disruptors to the marketing environment, and that will probably challenge big brands.”

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