The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many changes in advertising overall. Some brands, like those in hospitality or travel, have almost eliminated advertising while brands in other industries, like CPG, telecommunication, and technology, are leaning more heavily on programmatic as consumers remain inside and online. As businesses in all sectors pivot to embrace the new normal, we look forward to providing our publishers Insights from the Buy-Side to help better plan for the road ahead.

In this edition, we interviewed Steve Katelman from Omnicom Media Group (OMG) to get his take on how the pandemic has changed his day-to-day life, and his predictions for the pandemic’s long-term effects on the advertising industry.

Steve Katelman
EVP, Global Digital Partnerships at OMG

Steve Katelman’s role is to maintain a competitive advantage for Omnicom clients. He focuses on digital and technical strategies as others within the company handle pricing discussions. His role is global, so he works with media partners and ad tech companies that have operations worldwide. He normally travels 80% of the time, but hasn’t moved 80 feet from his refrigerator in the last few months (could be one of the reasons he’s gained 80lbs).

OpenX: How has your day-to-day business changed as a result of the pandemic?

Steve Katelman: It has changed drastically. I am now exclusively living in a virtual world. I was a big fan of in-person whiteboarding sessions with participants from our agencies, clients and partners. These are much harder to do via webinar. My work hours have expanded to 6am – 10pm. My eyes hurt from staring at the screen. Obviously buying media has been impacted due to the fact that consumer behavior has radically shifted, but the goals haven’t altered: get the right message to the right person at the right time.

OpenX: How has COVID impacted your overall business?

Steve Katelman: I’ve been in the business since the 80’s (sense the theme here?) and have never experienced anything like this. This impacted everything. It was global. Messaging needed to be updated in an instant. Fortunately (for me), programmatic buying was built on acting in real time so this was doable. I personally looked at it as “marketing to a shelter in place audience.” Where is the audience? What is the message? How can the brand assist? Should the brand assist? This is different for each brand, so it was essentially a reset for our clients’ marketing decisions. We needed to be very nimble and that isn’t an easy task when you can’t walk down the hallway to do it collectively. 

OpenX: Has COVID made you rethink what you look for in technology and publisher partners?  

Steve Katelman: I think this whole pandemic has spotlighted that data-driven, real-time buying is a very wise way to market in a world that can and will change on a dime. Nimbleness is definitely an attribute I will look for in partners moving forward. There will obviously be winners and losers. 

OpenX: What are you most looking forward to when the lockdown is over?

Steve Katelman: That’s easy. Talking to a stranger in a bar.

Thanks for joining us for this edition of Insights from the Buy-Side. Be sure to subscribe to TheXchange blog and stay up to date with our latest content.