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Programmatic Stars: Emanuele Rossi, Head of Programmatic, Lastminute.com

Emanuele Rossi is Head of Programmatic, Lastminute.com. He has been at the company since January 2017 and previously held roles at M:Metrics, myThings, and Comscore.

What is the biggest opportunity for programmatic over the next year?

Due to the current unusual circumstances, we might be facing a new programmatic approach which is going to require even more adaptation and greater ownership of our customer data strategy; implementing a new accessible reporting mechanism with a clear insight and KPI focus. 

As data becomes harder to use, we should develop and execute day in and day out, testing and learning plans to continuously optimise media investments in order to target and reach the audience we are looking for, with automation to increase productivity and results.

What are the biggest challenges for programmatic and how will we overcome them?

Programmatic advertising has come a long way and has gained serious traction in the past few years. Naturally, this means the problems that come with it have advanced too.

The biggest threat in programmatic advertising is ad fraud. It’s often marketers themselves driving the issue moving the programmatic focus from conversions towards metrics that are easier for fraudsters to produce (i.e, impressions); since many of the impressions bought (programmatic or otherwise) are simply never actually seen by the intended recipient. 

Marketers need to find a way to make viewability an accurate reflection of the return on their investment. If marketers are to see real results and improvements in programmatic efficiency, they need to challenge their partners to minimise fraud, asking for better insights and building a trustful and strong site-level data, at its most granular, that gives a clear picture of whether ads are actually being seen and how realistic click data is.

This site-level data, should also give you the opportunity to buy and sell with confidence. As a buyer, you can identify quality impressions and direct your budget toward high-value inventory to improve direct response and brand performance. 

Last but not least you shouldn’t ASSUME the budget is well spent. You need to KNOW it, running your ads where, when, and how you want, protecting your brand from ad fraud, and from showing up next to inappropriate content.

What innovation or technology in programmatic are you most excited about?

Perhaps the most powerful innovation that programmatic brings to the table for brand marketers is the ability to optimise campaigns in flight. In the past, brand marketers did not have many meaningful metrics to measure the success of their campaigns while they were running. 

We have been using exposed survey methodology to measure incremental brand lift; however, we usually can’t get a statistically significant read on how the campaign is performing until after the campaign has ended. It’s also difficult to cut this data at a granular level, such as by site, placement and so forth, in order to gain learnings on how to optimise our campaigns the next time we plan. 

With programmatic, we can now optimise in real time at a placement level to metrics that we know drive our end goal of brand lift, like viewability. We’re beginning to explore other real-time metrics beyond viewability as well.

How is the role of ‘head of programmatic’ evolving or changing at present? 

There’s no question that programmatic is growing quickly, the digital ecosystem is constantly evolving through innovation and technological advancements, which will create new opportunities and needs within programmatic, both for brands and agencies  

With this in mind, the role as “Head of Programmatic” is evolving too as it requires a deeper level of the latest technology, so It is more important than ever to get to grips with your programmatic product management and partner function tools to partner well across the team, in order to devise an optimised strategy.

What do you love most about your role as Head of Programmatic?

The best thing about being head of programmatic is that I get to manage all internal stakeholders across a variety of departments; this helps me to establish a new centre of excellence for programmatic media channels at Lastminute group, defining the digital communications strategy and securing group wide alignment.

This role also allows me to develop strategies and plans to drive both near-term performance as well as to build a foundation for healthy growth into the future – continually test and learn with new ideas, categories, geographies and channels to grow the business.

What is your proudest achievement in programmatic?

My proudest achievement is having worked with great people, mentoring them through their navigation of programmatic and building the best “In House Marketing team” who was also recognised by the Travel Marketing Awards (1st place in 2020) 

When I took on this role, one clear objective for me was to design and implement a programmatic brand & content strategy to determine how we create and deploy content across channels to connect our brand with consumers. 

Based on our brand message, which we strategise in collaboration with our agency and performance KPIs; I collaborate with each department, using the intricate tools they have at their disposal to plan and execute successful activities.

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