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LoopMe’s Jonathan Di Sapia on programmatic shifts, AI and the rise of private marketplaces
April 26, 2023
An experienced sales leader, Jonathan Di Sapia has proven success in building out programmatic businesses for both publishers and ad tech vendors – including Mail Online, Improve Digital, and Dennis Publishing. Here he gives his take on where adtech is heading and the shifts to look out for….
Tell us about your path to your current role as VP demand and partnerships at LoopMe
In 2012, I took a leap of faith into ad tech after seven years of working for a leading publisher on the supply side. For context, programmatic was still in its infancy at this time, and vastly different from the digital world we currently operate in. Around this time, I decided to move with the shift to automation that was on the horizon, so I took a role on the demand side at a leading European supply-side platform (SSP).
I’ve now been with LoopMe for four years. Being at the heart of adtech is still just as exciting as it was when I first started – with the massive scope for innovation that programmatic advertising brings and the fast-paced environment of the ever-changing ecosystem.
Have you experienced a shift in programmatic buyer priorities recently?
Over the last couple of years, it’s become clear that buyers are increasingly prioritizing inventory quality and brand safety, as well as the capabilities to curate audiences with first-party data, at scale, for any campaign. These focuses have been in the pipeline for a few years, with many agencies investing time and money into strengthening their inventory curation capabilities and partnering with tech platforms and SSPs.
Other recognizable shifts in recent years have been the rise of the “agency marketplace” and the fact that sustainability and supply-path optimization now go firmly hand-in-hand, with any and all media spend being more accountable.
To consider shifts in the sales side of things, supply-path optimization remains a firm priority from the SSP viewpoint and from the supply side more generally. In the past, there was a focus on connecting the biggest DSPs, but there’s been a shift recently to a more strategic approach to the targeting and redirection of open auction spend, as well as the strong necessity of SSPs to have an ad sales team actively driving spend from trading desks.
Do you see AI having an impact on the way deals are managed?
Firstly, I think it’s important to differentiate between ad tech vendors investing in AI and vendors having actual patented AI and machine learning capabilities. Most respected ad tech vendors have chosen to invest heavily in data science teams building out AI and machine learning algorithms, rather than having the tools themselves. AI itself really does have the opportunity to transform the operation of the programmatic ecosystem, as it has the potential to digest huge amounts of data and increase buying and selling efficiency unlike ever before.
To consider LoopMe, we have always been an AI-first business, which is why we have our own patented technology that is unique across the ecosystem and powers our core products – including PurchaseLoop and other Intelligent Marketplace products.
Private marketplaces versus open trading: which do you consider best?
In contrast to the way it was when I first started in adtech, private marketplaces (PMPs) have definitely become “the norm” now. There have been various troubleshooting problems relating to PMPs over the years but they’re much more widely efficient now, with many agencies opting to build out their own. Three key benefits of PMPs are the fact that they’re typically data driven, often the only way to gain programmatic access to certain tech vendor products, and offer traders a targeted supply.
Saying that, we have to recognize that open auction trading has maintained a firm position, especially considering the rise of machine learning and AI and the powerful capabilities that come with it – from reducing wasted ad impressions to identifying bad actors across the supply side. For example, leading SSPs are now offering “auction packages” where publishers can expand data-driven audiences for open auction buying, as opposed to PMPs.