Much More Than a Trading Desk: Q&A With Paul Dolan, Managing Director, North America, Xaxis

Prior to his OPS Markets NY (April 18!) presentation on taking control of the marketing mix via a DMP, Xaxis Managing Director of North America Paul Dolan stole a few moments to detail the many facets of WPP’s audience buying platform.

Xaxis launched as WPP’s central audience buying platform last year – do you consider it a trading desk? Why or why not?

While Xaxis does offer trading desk functionality within our suite of services, it’s really only one element in the overall picture of what we do. On a macro level, Xaxis allows advertisers to manage their entire digital audience-buying program from a single location from which they can reach the industry’s largest universe of audience portraits.  Not just in display, but in online video, mobile and social.  Also, unlike most trading desks, Xaxis gives advertisers access to the benefits of audience buying – efficiency, scale, performance – without giving up on premium content.  

In addition, because Xaxis has access to its own proprietary database without bias to a 3rd party media or data company, we deliver universality and neutrality and place our clients’ needs first, streamlining highly effective and targeted ad campaigns.  

What has been the biggest benefit of WPP adding a platform like Xaxis? What have been the biggest challenges?

In forming Xaxis, WPP combined audience-buying capabilities that had been independently developed in various parts of GroupM and WPP Digital.  By centralizing its own capabilities in the digital advertising space, WPP’s Xaxis has executed more than 4,000 campaigns for more than 700 clients in 13 markets around the world.

The most challenging part has been educating marketers and media buyers on the effectiveness of audience targeting and the efficiency with which Xaxis’ audience-buying technology eliminates the expense of wasted ads delivered to the wrong audiences.

What kind of operational issues is Xaxis facing? How are you handling them?

The general theme of our current operational challenges revolves around interacting with the ecosystem around us.  With each of these issues, we are actively engaging our partners in open dialogue.  Some of the things we’re talking about today are:

  • Tagging integration with publishers
  • Cookie match with ad networks
  • Above-the-fold (ATF) placement with exchanges
  • Video standards – VAST & VPAID

How does the presence of a display-side DMP help Xaxis perform better for clients?

With the only universal and media agnostic buy-side DMP, Xaxis is able to integrate all sources of audience data regardless of media or data source. This allows Xaxis to target the clients’ audiences regardless of where they reside and provide seamless insight across the entire digital mix. With this capability, Xaxis can also provide universal frequency capping for clients across all their media channels.

What are the biggest obstacles currently to DMP adoption? What will change in 2012?

We are seeing clients swiftly move into Data Management strategies and platforms.  There are a number of key stakeholders at the client – Marketing, CRM, Analytics, Tech/IT, Privacy, Procurement – who benefit directly from a Data Management Platform.

Xaxis sees the shift to more education and coordination at clients in bringing one unified, agnostic, universal platform to manage all digital marketing data.  Savvy marketers, including many of our clients, have already brought offline CRM data into their online DMP and are showing tremendous ROI as a result.

OPS Markets Hear Xaxis’ Paul Dolan talk more about DMP opportunities at OPS Markets, which will bring digital advertising leaders and ops professionals together to discuss and develop best practices for operational excellence in the evolving automated landscape. Register today for OPS Markets, which will be held April 18, 2012, in New York.