Image: Sonja Kristiansen

Sonja Kristiansen is Chief Business Officer at adtech company TripleLift. I recently spoke with Sonja to find out more about her day-to-day role. We also discuss various trends in advertising, including CTV, native ads, and commerce media.

Tell me about your role – what does a typical day look like for you?

Sonja Kristiansen: As Chief Business Officer at TripleLift, the majority of my time is dedicated to executing against our annual operating plan, finding ways of expanding and accelerating our strategic initiatives, and driving our partnerships across the globe.

The digital media industry continues to transform at a rapid pace, leaving publishers and advertisers consistently pivoting to achieve their goals. My responsibility is to ensure our resources are directed to strengthen TripleLift’s position as a key player in the industry, helping advertisers to reach their audiences more effectively and publishers to better monetise their content.

I generally split my day between engaging with cross-functional teams (e.g. Revenue, Marketing, Product) to ensure they’re on the right track to deliver against their goals for our most strategic priorities, and speaking to customers to understand their goals and how TripleLift can help achieve them.

Advertisers are increasingly investing in connected TV (CTV) – what are the pros and cons of the channel?

SK: CTV is one of the most exciting channels for brands to explore for a few reasons. First, viewership growth is off the charts. Advertisers have long been looking for a canvas to port their TV budgets to, and CTV is the first medium to match the creative experience and scale of traditional TV, with the added benefits of programmatic targeting and measurement. CTV also allows brands to connect with hard-to-reach audiences (cord-cutter, non-linear viewers) and niche, interest-based groups – all with a more accessible entry point for brands of any size and budget; no need for big upfronts.

Second, CTV is now home to a variety of formats: from plug-and-play CTV spots, to integrated brand placements offering a seamless viewing experience, to interactive formats served with a call-to-action to power conversions (which I expect will be big for capturing retail media dollars).

Challenges mostly revolve around measurement and ad fraud, but as CTV technology advances and industry partnerships continue to grow, standards will keep improving.

The CTV ecosytem may soon have its ‘year of mobile’

What other channels do you think advertisers should be prioritising and why?

SK: Native advertising (like in-feed native ads and Sponsored Products listings) allows brands to drop their messages in the right context, wherever their customers are consuming content – like seeing an ad for Barilla Pasta nested in a recipe for bolognese, or seeing the top-rated pasta-maker at the top of their search on Amazon or Walmart. It catches customers at the right moment, when their curiosity is engaged and their intent is clear. Reaching customers in the flow of their online activity is going to have a big impact on brand visibility and engagement.

Similarly, retail media networks afford brands great opportunities to reach customers with relevant messages when they’re most likely in the spending mood. The benefits of advertising on retailers’ owned channels – websites, apps – are key: from better addressability and advanced targeting, to the magic of closed-loop attribution, referring to the ability to link marketing efforts back to customer actions.

How can advertisers navigate the shift away from third-party cookies?

SK: First off, now is the time for advertisers to test their first-party data strategies. Already, more than 50% of online impressions come without an identifier, thanks to cookie-constrained environments like Safari, Firefox, CTV and Apple’s recent ATT changes. This means there’s already a promising testing ground for first-party data, and advertisers don’t need to wait for the death of the third-party cookie to ensure they have an effective first-party data strategy in place.

We all know that first-party data is poised to be a powerful tool, but the key is taking a portfolio, or multi-modal approach to first-party data strategies. This means using a combination of targeting techniques, data signals, and partnerships to fill any gaps and de-risk investments.

In practice, it involves leveraging  publisher first-party data in its entirety – not just login data but also contextual data, site analytics, purchase history, and more – like integrating cross-domain ID solutions when valuable data exists. When that data is not available, that means combining first-party data and cohort targeting. And finally, engaging with ongoing Privacy Sandbox resolution by testing (and challenging) its proposals. Finding the right partnerships in the industry is fundamental at each step.

What other trends do you think will come to the forefront of your industry in the next 12 months?

SK: Since Google announced the phasing out of the third-party cookie, numerous solutions have emerged to address marketers’ challenges around declining addressability. This has resulted in the purchasing process becoming more complicated and fragmented. Simplifying and streamlining the media buying process, and the relationships between buyers and sellers, will be a top priority throughout the year. With that, we’ll see a resurrection of supply path optimisation techniques, and a consolidation of partners in the spirit of “fewer, better”.

More widely, the overall softness of the global economy makes thoughtful and efficient media transactions (think: performance and ease of activation) more necessary than ever for all players.

What’s next for TripleLift – any goals or ambitions for 2023?

SK: First, we’ll continue to drive high growth in our core businesses like Native and Video to help advertisers and publishers achieve their marketing and monetization goals. Second, we have three key areas of focus for this year: commerce media (enabling retailers to grow their advertising businesses off-site, with best-in-class creative), first-party audiences (powered by our acquisition of 1plusX last year), and CTV (delivering unique creative experiences integrated into top CTV networks and publishers).

Beyond this, it’s important for us to keep listening to publishers’ and brands’ needs and continue to adapt to support growth. If we can give publishers and brands more confidence in their ability to reach their goals despite ongoing market changes, we’ll look back on this year as a good one.

Learn more

For more on first-party data strategies, members can access Econsultancy’s Data and Analytics Deep Dive elearning via the Skills Cloud, or explore our advertising guides.