Masters of Media: Gai Le Roy, IAB Australia

07/27 By IAS Team

In this exclusive ‘Masters of Media’ series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the ANZ advertising industry, on all matters digital.

Gai Le Roy is the CEO and Director of IAB Australia, the peak industry body representing the digital advertising industry. IAB Australia represents and works with media owners, agencies, advertisers, and ad-tech to drive an effective, diverse, and sustainable industry.

Integral Ad Science (IAS): Tell us about your professional journey Gai

Gai Le Roy (Gai): I have been very lucky working in the media industry over 30 years. I started off watching and listening to news and current affairs on radio and television for a company called Media Monitors and this gave me an incredible understanding of the different types of media content out there, from right wing shock jocks through to university radio. My background is in media research and analytics, understanding human behaviour and the changes that we constantly see in media consumption is the thing that has kept me hooked to this industry. 

I started in digital from nearly day dot in Australia, 1996 in a consulting company and then quickly moving to what would become Australia’s top portal (remember portals!?) for many years, ninemsn. Since then I have had strategy and research roles with media owners and research agencies. Now I am lucky enough to help guide and represent the industry via the IAB. It is just the best job where the team and I get to understand and help a wide range of people and organisation in the market. 

IAS: What were your top learnings during the recent pandemic?

Gai: The most important three things I have learnt over the last four months would be:

Strong, clear and supportive leadership cannot be underrated. We work in an industry with smart, self-motivated folks but I have really found an increased need for leaders that can provide clear, consistent communication and have strong empathy.

– We have historically put a lot of false barriers in the way of making change. A whole workforce needed to completely change the way we work in a matter of what was sometimes just days – and we did it. The shift to working from home, finally making virtual events work, traditional larger companies finally taking E-commerce seriously, so many small hospitality businesses quickly changing their offerings & distribution and media companies providing so much valuable constantly updated content. This period has shown us that we can change and dare I say pivot with more ease that we would have previously imagined.

– I am ridiculously competitive at Thursday afternoon trivia with the team (actually this one probably wasn’t a surprise).

IAS: How are the Australian advertisers and publishers pivoting in the current climate and what’ll the new normal look like for the digital ecosystem?

Gai: There has been a lot of hastened structural change on all sides of our industry and I won’t pretend that this hasn’t caused some pain and challenges for organisations but we are seeing some stronger and interesting models emerge. Consumption has been up for most media channels with media owners creating and repurposing a bucket load of great content and this has provided some amazing opportunities for advertisers who have been able to stay active in the market. The three words that I am seeing as having an increased importance for the buy side are: quality, flexibility and ownership

IAS: The IAB AU, MFA, and AANA recently announced the launch of guidelines and training to restore the reputation of the programmatic supply chain, please can you explain more about this initiative.

Gai: In July the IAB, MFA and AANA released the 2020 Australian Digital Advertising Practices, an update on the 2018 release. This is an incredibly important piece of work that arms the marketers with an easy to read document that outlines key areas of digital advertising and ad tech giving them the tools and information to make more informed investment decisions. The Practices cover 6 topics: digital value chain, viewability, brand safety, fraud, data governance and consumer privacy. 

We are very pleased to be able to release a set of practices that have been agreed to by all sides of the industry – publishers, agencies, advertisers and tech. We are delighted that media agencies on the MFA board have agreed that all relevant staff will be trained on the Australian Digital Advertising Practices and have to demonstrate proof of knowledge. IAB Australia has just issued a call for the industry to adopt IAB Tech Lab industry technical standards to help drive transparency. 

IAS: Australia is one of the World’s best media quality markets, what’s your advice to the advertisers to maintain the upward trend?

Gai: The word ‘quality’ is becoming more and more important for buy and sell side. To ensure quality remains marketers need to very clear on two points:

– Their own brand objectives to help set the standards that they will accept in the media investments.

– A sophisticated way of measuring impact across digital and traditional marketing activity. Make sure time metrics, frequency, duplication and impact of media environments are all taken into consideration in any MROI measurement model.

IAS: What is your opinion on the deprecation of cookies and the role of contextual targeting?

Gai: Cookies have served the industry now for many years but they are at the end of their lifespan. I personally think it is great that environment and contextual target will again be an important factor in planning but this time around we will still have other signals and quality first party data that will help with effective targeting. 

IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?

Gai: Apart from the IAB Australia podcast (which is on a little hiatus while we are running weekly webinars) my favourite industry podcast is Pivot hosted by the wonderfully smart and opinionated duo of Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. I also enjoy the cheeky but incredibly informative Behind the Numbers podcast from the eMarketer team. 

IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?

I can’t say this enough – reading is a super power. When 95% of people in the industry only skim headlines and scan infographics if you make the time to read longer articles and reports you will quickly become an invaluable asset in your organisation and the industry. 

Also maintain strong relationships with your peers even if you change jobs – these folks will be your support network as you go through your career. I can’t imagine not having my ninemsn alumni mates in my life both from a personal and a professional point of view. 

Look out for mentors, you would be surprised how many senior people willingly give up their time to support the next generation. The introduction of the ‘IAB Australia Mentorship Program’ has been incredibly rewarding for both mentors and mentees.