Masters of Media: 10 minutes with an agency trader, Amnet

09/07 By Amanda Forrester

Name: Emily Kennedy
Title: Associate Trading Director
Joined Amnet: 2013
Degrees & certifications: Bachelors of Science, University of Michigan

Who are the people behind the platform? Too often programmatic advertising is thought of as purely artificial intelligence, but there is a vast amount of human intelligence involved in executing meaningful marketing campaigns. IAS sat down with Emily Kennedy, an Associate Trading Director at Amnet to learn more about the complexities of buying digital advertising. In this interview we learn more about the day-to-day life of a trader, and gain greater transparency into the programmatic ecosystem.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be an engineer, and I feel like I am in a way. I like being creative, but I also like using the mathematical side of my brain. As a programmatic trader, my coding and ad tech expertise come into play and I also have the opportunity to flex my creative muscles at the same time.

What do you feel is the most common assumption or misperception about agency trade desks?
There’s a misperception that programmatic is just an extension of digital activation. Some brands see it as a way to simply automate their historic digital buying tactics. As a best practice, I think brands should treat programmatic, as a separate entity working in tandem with other digital buys, not as an evolution of digital. The concept that this is how we used to buy digital, and that’s how we’re going to buy our programmatic is all too prevalent. We need to plan differently, measure differently, and analyze differently.

What are your three biggest challenges on a day-to-day basis?
One, ensuring that all the moving parts of programmatic are working seamlessly together with high levels of attention to detail. Everything from tags working, to being an inventory expert and a data specialist requires our employees to think and act fast in an ever-changing environment.

Two, education, programmatic has evolved so rapidly, people understand the value, but there’s still huge complexity. It’s difficult for us to educate and lead our clients to the best type of metrics. I spend a lot of my time explaining how we can best reach audiences, and achieve the goals of the campaign.

Three, fraud is an industry wide issue that Amnet prides itself on leading the fight against. We have multiple layers of brand safety precautions set in place to proactively fight through the muck. You are constantly asking yourself, “What is best for the brand? How do I evolve my strategy to fight the ever changing fraudulent space?”

What kind of person makes the best agency trader?
To be a good trader you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. You need to be comfortable with data. As a programmatic expert, you live in data, manipulate data, make quick analytical decisions and adjust. You need to be organized with your data strategy and approach so you can pivot quickly and get the best results. You also need to have a strong attention to detail. You need to communicate effectively to clients in digestible ways. Being a trader requires you to be an analyst, a client service pro, and ad ops manager all in one.

Generally speaking, how many accounts are you working on at one time?
The average Amnet trader works on one to two. It all depends on the size and complexity of the brand and their data.

How do you decide which platform or partners to use?
We try to steer clear of the activation platform selection being a starting point. We don’t see platforms or partners as lines on a media plan. We take the opposite approach. Brands want to reach a certain type of person with a certain type of data, and they are looking to us to help them get there. What action do we want that user to take? How do we get them to do that? Once those pieces are identified, we then focus on platform and partner selections that are best suited for the particular campaign.

How do mobile and video fit into buying?
Mobile is the biggest piece that varies depending on the specific brand. A lot of brands have their own apps and SDKs, so that impacts how they want their mobile campaigns setup. There are also significant mobile measurement issues, as you know. Almost everyone is buying video, and most brands are using it as an awareness tactic. In light of the shift in consumer consumption habits, video and TV have started to blend together.

Are mobile and video bought together?
Mobile is often coupled with digital display, but it depends. We’re starting to see video dollars shift from what are typically considered to be TV-only budgets. We encourage brands to focus on the audience and to be open to being flexible so that they can reach their desired audience wherever they are.

Do you prefer to leverage PMPs or targeting segments on open auction, or no preference?
From my perspective as a trader, I like to leverage data segments. Customized data segments from a first party DMP are ideal, as you know exactly what you’re working with. Data segments allow you to target specific people with a specific set of attributes to see how they respond to different types of ads, creative, etc.

That being said, PMPs are definitely helpful if you know that the audience that you’re trying to reach is specific to a certain publisher vertical.

How did you end up working in programmatic?
A few of my friends were working in digital as programmatic was evolving and introduced me to Amnet. After meeting with the team I knew Amnet was a place I could be challenged and engaged. Amneters are passionate and innovative, and I knew I wanted to be part of that.

Where can people find you when you’re not at work?
If it’s not awful hot — running outside with my dog JJ.

This interview was conducted by Amanda Forrester, Sr. Product Marketing Manager Optimization.

Learn more about programmatic advertising here.