Buyer Spotlight: Chris Romano, Director of Platforms, Amnet

By OpenX in Brands & Agencies|June 15, 2016

We sat down with Chris Romano, Director of Platforms at Amnet, the programmatic team for the Dentsu Aegis Network, to talk about Amnet’s approach, hot industry topics, and his thoughts on the future of programmatic.

How is programmatic growing at Amnet?

Today, on behalf of Amnet clients, we buy all types of inventory programmatically. This includes all screens and all formats including emerging channels such as Audio, TV and Out of Home. That being said, we continue to drive the creation of advanced media solutions that aren’t as developed or still early in testing programmatic ways of working. That is precisely why partnerships — like the one that we have with OpenX — are so crucial. We can collaboratively determine the most effective and strategic programmatic approach for our clients.

What is Amnet’s competitive advantage for brands?

For Amnet specifically, it’s our team of programmatic experts, our technology-agnostic approach, and our in-depth understanding of data strategy that sets us apart. We have experience working across multiple technology platforms, inclusive of both omni-channel and single channel DSPs, DMPs and data partners. There is no one size fits all approach to programmatic or an audience-led strategy.  Because Amnet is technology agnostic, we are able to develop bespoke programmatic stacks with each client goal in mind.

Can you expand on your agnostic approach?

What was considered the best tech four years ago is not the best tech today. We constantly challenge ourselves to make sure that we’re always working with partners that are keeping up with industry shifts and innovations. Programmatic moves so rapidly, so our agnostic approach allows us to be flexible, stay on top of these changes and bring forward best-in-class solutions for our clients. We can very easily test new platforms or products that help us expand our capabilities. There is a significant opportunity cost when not testing new platforms, data or inventory partners. For Amnet, the ability to test is one of our biggest innovation drivers and KPIs we set with clients.

How do you evaluate your programmatic supply partners?

In the past three years alone, programmatic supply has come a long way. Today, with the help of our exchange partners, we are able to tap inventory above the open exchange — leveraging private marketplace deals and programmatic guaranteed buys.  We’re constantly working on ways to find the right audience, in the right place, at the right time. Partnerships such as the one that we have with OpenX allow us to deliver on that promise.

We also challenge our SSP and exchange partners to resolve issues such as fraud, bot traffic and improve viewability metrics. It is a huge benefit to be able to work together to take these issues off the table.

How do you approach training your teams on the technology solutions available to them?

At the end of the day, technology is technology. In my view, it is really about the people that sit behind these platforms that make the difference  –  it is their expertise that drives outcomes for our clients and the growth of our industry. Education is crucial in such a rapidly evolving media landscape. Building programmatic expertise and competency is a huge part of that, one element of which is understanding issues related to fraud and viewability. To address this, we developed Amnet University, a learning and development program that is designed to provide our employees with the training and tools needed to be successful in their jobs. The curriculum changes regularly to reflect the shifts in the industry and to ensure that our teams are proficient in addressing current trends and topics.

A key part of Amnet University is partner-based training, where we look to partners such as OpenX to provide point-of-view on industry topics and new solutions.

Do clients have enough knowledge to articulate expectations, or are they looking to you for programmatic expertise / advice?

Programmatic is constantly changing, so our clients look to us for education, direction and thought leadership.

Clients’ expectations of programmatic are perfectly aligned with ours — they’re looking to programmatic to drive tangible results and higher ROI. Programmatic campaign performance delivers true insight into a consumer’s journey, and does an incredible job of helping brands identify how they should be allocating their media dollars. Through the Amnet Audience Center, our proprietary DMP, we are able to share deep insights on a brand’s target audience, often uncovering customer segments that may have been unaware of previously. Those insights are not only helpful for programmatic strategy, but across their holistic media program. Programmatic is very powerful when used properly, and our clients know that.

Can you talk about the relationship with OpenX and how we’ve worked together?

The relationship that we have with OpenX grew out of an aligned passion for all things programmatic. Our initial discussions were around industry trends, sharing insights and understanding each other’s approaches. It was precisely what made our relationship with OpenX unique from the start.

The OpenX team is completely open to our feedback on how to customize their offering to better meet Amnet client needs, and their flexibility makes the partnership a mutually beneficial one. Today, we’re working together to develop programmatic solutions for Amnet clients that may not exist today, but we’re determined to make them a reality together.

As our use of private marketplaces, programmatic guaranteed and cross-screen initiatives grow, so does our relationship with OpenX. OpenX has been a partner who is committed to helping us develop scalable, performance-driven, audience-led solutions.

You mentioned automated guaranteed, so I wanted to get your thoughts on the concept of Real-Time Guaranteed (OpenX’s new solution that brings together the certainty of direct campaigns with the efficiency of real-time bidding technology and audience syncing).

With Real-Time Guaranteed, the power of choice is key. Guaranteed buys paired with reliable forcecasting, customized inventory selection and scalable audience decisioning capabilities is a game changer.

At Amnet, our Publisher Development team is responsible for leading the charge on all things supply. Their efforts have positioned us to be at the forefront of truly guaranteed programmatic conversations.

We’re excited for this new future.

What’s next for Amnet?

To bring this conversation full circle, the increase in device types such as smart watches, cars, refrigerators and more is opening the door for additional audience insight capabilities. Imagine how powerful cross-device will be if (more like when) that data is available for marketers to leverage!

Programmatic brings together automation, efficiency, data and knowledge to drive sophisticated media strategies. The sky’s the limit.