rebecca ackers, magnite

Rebecca Ackers is VP DV+ at Magnite, the largest independent sell-side advertising company.

We caught up with Ackers to ask about favourite creative and personal inspiration, bugbears in programmatic, how the industry has changed and what it has in store over the next 12 months.

Econsultancy: What are your favourite ads?

Rebecca Ackers: I love ads that catch me by surprise, and Channel 4 managed to do this brilliantly with their video ad campaign for back in 2016. It seemed like a normal advert with a ‘skip ad’ button in the corner, but once you clicked it switched to the same advert with all the actors literally skipping on ropes. Channel 4 executed it brilliantly, the switch to the skipping version was very clean and its unexpected nature really draws you in as a viewer.

Ads are so present in our lives that even with more creative examples you can often see where they’re going or the joke they’re about to make, so the ads you can’t predict are the ones that stand out to me.

E: What are your personal bugbears in programmatic?

RA: Programmatic is such a dynamic, exciting and competitive industry that it can sometimes be difficult to keep pace with its evolving nature. However, this is also what makes the industry an exciting one to be a part of.

One of the key changes we are currently seeing play out revolves around measurement standards, especially in the context of cookie deprecation. While it seems as though progress has been slow, I believe we’ll net out in a better place as our industry works carefully to become increasingly more communicative, collaborative and transparent when it comes to measurement and data. This won’t stifle competition either, instead it will heighten the dynamism of the industry and promote healthy competition that takes the whole industry to the next level.

E: It’s a busy time: commerce media, ID-free targeting, the ICO questioning Sandbox, the potential of AI for powering creative, more CTV inventory.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for advertisers over the next 12 months?

RA: Comprehensive resets aren’t very common in any industry, but I think that the sun setting on third-party cookies is as close to that as we’ve seen in programmatic advertising since the introduction of header bidding. From this fresh start, I’m anticipating a positive shift in how we target audiences while retaining addressability and ROI.

Over the next year, we’ll see a movement towards a completely user-first internet, and SSPs are in a great place to manage this transition. By nature, we’re close to consumers and are entrusted with a lot of their data regardless of cookies through our publisher relationships. There’s inevitably going to be more collaboration between advertisers and you’d expect new standardised protocols to follow as new tools and ways of sharing data arise.

E: How has the industry changed since you started in RTB?

RA: The advertising industry has changed immensely since I began my career in RTB. Client teams are now very familiar with adtech processes and technologies like RTB, so they’re a lot more willing to lean into change and experimentation. Prior to this there was a far greater degree of apprehension amongst clients to experiment with new technologies, because the whole thought of automated advertising was new instead of an evolution of existing technology.

Now that a basis of trust and understanding has been established, discussions with prospective clients are more focused on the specific benefits of our product and we don’t have to sell the concept from first principles. 

E: What does the average day look like working in programmatic advertising today?

RA: For me, the average day is what you might expect – a steady mix of writing, reporting and meetings keep me busy. But throughout all my days there is a constant stream of team management responsibilities, and it’s this part of my role that I cherish more than any other.

With multiple teams across EMEA under my leadership, I’ve come to thrive under the challenge of connecting these teams despite geographical borders. Within any given day I try to empower these diverse teams to develop their own style of creative ideation that they can bring to the projects we are working on. Helping these teams to come together and collaborate is extremely satisfying as a leader, and without a doubt produces the best results for our clients.

People are the powerhouses of Magnite – our tech’s success depends on the people creating it, and the strong relationships we build with our customers are down to the amazing people we have at the company. Providing the right support to my teams so that they are in a position to offer the best service they can to our clients is built into the way I work every day. Our clients are becoming increasingly tapped into the advertising world, and with greater experience and knowledge of the technologies, mine and my team’s jobs have become increasingly consultative in nature. We always strive to go above and beyond a traditional client-agency relationship, further demonstrating that the talented and intelligent people of our industry are irreplaceable.

E: What has inspired you recently outside of work?

RA: There are two events and pieces of news that have inspired me recently, one of them is around six months old now, but the other is far more recent. These events really resonated with me in terms of life attitude, they say to me: do things that scare you, throw yourself into life and enjoy it!

The first was Dorothy Hoffner, who aimed to become the world record holder for the world’s oldest skydiver, and the second was Eileen Hieron who ran the London Marathon this year aged 81.

These are two incredibly inspirational women showing to the world that it doesn’t matter if you’re afraid, or if people try to persuade you out of things, what matters is that you’re making the most of life and letting nothing get in your way.