Privacy, Data Decisions and More: Q&A With Turn CEO & President Bill Demas and Pierre Naggar, Managing Director EU

Will RTB kill the digital sales team? Not likely!

<!–We sat down with Turn CEO & President Bill Demas and,Managing Director EU, Pierre Naggar to discuss their move into the European RTB Market and how they see the market transforming how display is bought and the new role of the salesman. Read the fascinating interview below.

Tell us about Turn and why you’ve made the foray into the UK RTB market?

Bill: Well programmatic buying in display only became popular because of search, the way you purchase search always seemed so efficient. Turn was founded to use those efficiencies of search advertising and turn that to display initially and then for mobile, video, etc. We’re using the U.S. as a model: increasingly what we’ve seen in the U.S. is semi-premium inventory coming up for grabs – it’s not longer just ‘remnant’ inventory going through RTB. I’ve seen $20 CPM bids coming in for some of the top stuff and that’s exciting. We’re expecting this pattern to emerge in the UK and Europe too – whether it’s the first half of this year or the second we can’t be sure, but what we are sure of is that it’s just a much more efficient way to buy and sell inventory and inevitably efficiency has to be the future.


Pierre: I’ve been following the space in Europe since 2009. In 2010 people were speaking a lot about RTB but no one was really making inroads, but in 2011 we really saw it take off with a lot more agencies building their own trading desks. We expect this trend to continue and this year for more volume to come through RTB. From the people I’ve spoken with in the space more budget is being allocated to RTB and more premium publishers are giving up better inventory, which means that the industry can only grow.


What do you think is the reasoning behind the initial reluctance from publishers to give up their ‘premium inventory’ and do you think this will change?


Bill: You have to look at cultural implications, in this world agencies will have to change and become more analytical plus there’s a sales orientated culture here in Europe. It really comes down to fear – there’s always an element of fear when it comes to embracing new technologies, fear that you’re going to make yourself redundant, fear of over-reliance.


But from that we’ve seen so far this year the tide is turning and more are seeing RTB and trading desks as necessary and critical to success.


Again I think this comes down to the efficiencies of RTB being made more and more apparent, sales teams and ops professionals now see RTB as necessary and not as a rival.


Do you think RTB will cause the death of the digital sales team?


Bill: Not the death of the salesman at all. I’m from Yahoo, the company that invented search advertising, and regardless of the fact that predominantly buys came programmatically, if you wanted to sell that million dollar a day idea, that bespoke home page take over – that’s where a direct sales person is going to be invaluable. I think going forward though the role of the salesman will have to change, they’ll have to be more than just sellers – they’ll also have to become more analytical and focus on and know their ‘premium inventory.’ Anything mid-level and below though I see as going through mediums like our own.


More and more publishers are hiring and shifting resources within to analyse and really maximise the data that is coming from RTB – do you think these roles will be filled by sales people? What other roles can you see being created in this brave new world of RTB?


Bill: The best analogy I can think of comes from finance and specifically the stock market, that’s how we’ve approached RTB – we’re the buy/sell side of the business and as such we need to have more analytical people at our disposal and with this much data flying around so do publishers and agencies. In my experience it used to be that the guy that got the budget wasn’t the guy that was performing the best but the guy that took the agency rep to a U2 concert – it was so much based on the relationship rather than the results or user experience. But now with RTB it’s shifting to be more about the results, the relationship still matters but it’s not the only thing anymore.


Pierre: I see the market moving – in terms of specialization, there will always be a role for the sales people but a platform like RTB is a lot more efficient and so these roles will be more focused on specialised buys and sponsorships.


How is Turn approaching the ePrivacy Directive and how do you think it will effect RTB and the general use of data?


Pierre: Everyone is looking at the directive and trying to act on it, but there’s confusion as to what exactly needs to be done across the board. Different countries in the EU have different approaches, Germany, for example, is being more stringent than most. We’re trying to be compliant across the board though – we work with the IAB and Evidon in Europe to allow our customers to opt out from the ads if they want to via the use of the icon. We’re doing as much as we can, but it’s really dependent on what the differing EU countries want to do. We’re acting as best we can with the information we have, but in terms of a solution, we’re some way off yet.


What are Turn’s plans in 2012, anything we should be aware of?


Pierre: We’re really focusing on the European market, we’re new here and are currently looking to grow the team to help expand our footprint. We’re currently very much focused on Italy, the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands – mostly as they’re the biggest players in the RTB market. The UK is our European hub but we do have local teams on the ground across Europe to work across the individual markets. We want to be close to our clients and keep a local presence – from our experience, that’s the best way of growing the business.


Bill: Turn is the independent leader in the DSP market in the U.S. and we’re looking to continue that trend in Europe. We’re not Google and that helps, I think. We expect to double, triple and quadruple our growth within the European market in the coming months and years. We’ve enjoyed exponential growth in the US and I see no reason for that not to continue in Europe. It’s an incredibly exciting area to be in [RTB] and it’s growing all the time – we expect to be facilitating that growth as the go-to platform for the European market in RTB.

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