Please describe your job: What do you do?
I am the Managing Director, EMEA at DoubleVerify, a leading software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics. We provide consistent and unbiased data and analytics to brands, agencies, platforms, and publishers that can be used to optimise quality, yield, and performance of digital media and drive return on digital ad spend.
My role broadly focuses on the strategic development of DoubleVerify’s footprint in EMEA through acquiring new clients, boosting our innovation and thought leadership in the region, as well as growing and restructuring the team to better service both global and regional clients.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
Beyond the obvious impact of working from home, homeschooling, and being stuck inside the same four walls, the biggest change I have experienced in my typical day is an increasingly packed diary!
Many conversations that would have been opportunistic, five-minute water cooler discussions in the office are now planned 30 minute Zoom calls. This gives a new level of structure to the day, and allows me to dive-deeper on certain topics that need it. For example, we’ve seen a surge in consumer content consumption and a fast-moving news cycle in recent months; myself and the team have been hyper-focused on collaborating to help brands navigate this shifting landscape.
But, with a busier diary, and the new home office dynamic, work-life balance has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not always easy, but I’m still following the imperative that I draw a line between work and family; it’s more important than ever to maintain some down time at the end of the day.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
The pandemic is having a profound effect on the advertising sector, and that’s manifesting in several key trends. We’re seeing significant growth in content consumption as people work from home, and focus on keeping up-to-date with a fast-paced international news cycle.
Trust has become even more important as consumers, understandably, place more value on the accuracy of content. This means brands must be extremely strategic in their approach to campaigns, ensuring placement alongside suitable, safe and relevant content. We’re seeing that consumers respond extremely negatively to brands placed alongside negative or fake news in particular.
Finally, each of these factors is driving the industry towards an increasing focus on contextual approaches to advertising. While content consumption is soaring, the sensitivity of the landscape means contextual placements – which place ads alongside relevant content by understanding the meaning and sentiment of that content – will be key to reaching audiences without turning them off.
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
There are a lot of companies that have impressed me, especially when it comes to how they have taken the assets they own and repurposed them to support in the fight against Covid-19. What has been great to see is how this has played out in a multitude of ways across businesses of all sizes and types. We’ve seen large multinational brands such as Bacardi supplying alcohol to boost global sanitiser production as well as creating a fund for out-of-work bartenders, while SME businesses like Westbridge Furniture Design are also doing their part, shifting production from sofas to gowns for health workers.
I also believe we must recognise the efforts of the investment fund industry. Whilst the majority of businesses have hunkered down, investors are still pushing the boundaries and have remained confident. It’s been positive to see £3.2bn invested in London startups alone since January ensuring that post-COVID, we still have a vibrant, innovative industry to build upon.
What changes are you making to help your company connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
As a company, DoubleVerify is committed to supporting all of its employees globally in the move to the ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in. Already, we’ve been able to shift to completely virtual practices, from our internal all-hands meetings to social and wellbeing activities. We’ve also created new initiatives that embody our ‘all-in’ core values both internally and externally. For example, introducing mental wellbeing Fridays to allow our employees to recharge and reconnect during this time.
Further, we are also proud to be playing our small part in the pandemic response. We’ve been partnering with the Ad Council to leverage our technology to extend the reach and impact of Covid-19 response messages, delivering critical health and education messaging to a greater audience.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
With extra meetings now in my diary, it can be easy to bounce from one appointment to the next and lose track of time. To help me maintain a good work-life balance – and improve focus – I block out three 30 minute slots each day to actively take a break. I go out for a walk, get some fresh air, and once back I find I’m more focused and productive than if I’d attempted to push straight through.
Like many, my use of video conferencing has also significantly increased. This can add up to a lot of additional screen time. To offset that, when holding regular phone calls, I now take them away from my laptop, which has really helped reduce screen-fatigue.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
First and foremost, businesses need to take care of themselves, and their employees. We find ourselves in a very different climate compared with only a few months ago, so marketers need to reassess their priorities and consider what’s most valuable for their business now, before committing to future plans.
With brand safety needs becoming increasingly complex, marketers should also seek help from technology partners within the industry to navigate this new normal. Ad strategies must be informed by transparent insights that account for, and recognise, the meaning and sentiment of our complex content landscape. Advances in contextual targeting, powered by AI and machine learning, as well as semantic science, can offer this.
That being said, marketers should also look for opportunities, rather than simply react to our current climate. Brands need to keep sight of their integrity, creativity and innovation. There are opportunities now to reach new audiences, if the right approaches and learnings are taken. The current moment has opened up a space for marketers to challenge the status quo, try new technologies and step out of their comfort zones.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at DoubleVerify?
As we have all experienced recently, we must plan for the short term as well as the long term while keeping in mind what a ‘new normal’ looks like. However, while we’re all adjusting to our new reality, our fundamental goals as a business haven’t changed.
We want to build a better advertising industry so that brands can maximise the value of their ads, and have greater confidence in their digital investment. We continue to innovate, iterating on brand safety solutions, contextual targeting through AI and semantics and providing advertisers with more transparency when it comes to CTV.
Innovation is a core strand of our mission and another is forging and strengthening relationships with brands, agencies, platforms and publishers built on providing them with a definitive source of transparency and data-driven insights into the quality and effectiveness of their digital advertising.
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