Buyer Spotlight: Erica Schmidt, Managing Director, North America at Cadreon

By OpenX in Brands & Agencies|October 5, 2016

We chatted with Erica Schmidt, Managing Director, North America at Cadreon to discuss Cadreon’s approach to programmatic, hot industry topics, and what’s in store for the future.

How is programmatic growing at Cadreon?

Our core business beliefs start with the viability and potential of programmatic. Ultimately we believe that “programmatic” will be an interchangeable term with “advertising.” Growth in recent years has been exponential, with more and more brands devoting an ever increasing percentage of their ad spend to programmatic implementation. We’ve see fantastic, explosive programmatic growth in the categories that have traditionally been outliers, such as television. Programmatic has dramatically grown up from a singular line item on a plan to a fully comprehensive strategy for a client underpinned by a solid data strategy.

But the more important item to highlight is that technology and data-driven marketing is growing at an exciting rate. The role of, and trust in, data is propelling businesses across the board. This is great for marketing/communications in general and certainly for the Cadreon business given our role in driving data and tech-driven value for our clients.

What does Cadreon do better than other trading organizations as programmatic leaders?

There are three key differences which we believe set our business apart. First, we don’t practice arbitrage. Second, our data and technology philosophy is that of integration while using an agnostic approach. Third, our technology capability and understanding of marketing enables us to build solutions that no one else in the ecosystem is focused on.

Behind all this, we believe in and prioritize the talent of our team, which we think is unique in the industry. By assembling a first-class team of knowledgeable professionals and innovative developers from various backgrounds and specialties within the communications industry, we’ve looked to build a foundation that can address any shifts that can occur, that in fact will occur, in our industry. Clients will face challenges within their businesses and the overall media landscape, and Cadreon’s ability to adapt to their particular needs, arranging our suite of products and services to address those needs, is our primary concern.

We’re proud of our flexible position, in not being tied to a piece of data or technology. Our product management team in San Francisco provides an informed, objective opinion on the cutting edge data and ad tech developments happening in the heart of Silicon Valley, which most agencies do not have. Our ability to connect insights to outcome-driven activation in a more meaningful, results-oriented manner for our clients, is where we achieve separation from competitors.

How important is the partnership with your exchange vendors?

We have demonstrated time and again in public fashion and through partnership with our marketplace team that we tremendously value the right partnerships with our exchange vendors. We’ve always believed in the importance of driving quality and value in the inventory, and the best exchange vendors share that sentiment.

How do traders at Cadreon educate themselves about inventory, quality, fraud, viewability and on the “next big thing”?

Keeping education current on all essential industry topics is an important focus for our business. We have many methodologies in place to ensure our traders and the entire Cadreon organization is educated and fluent in the important aspects of being a successful ad tech specialist business. First, we have our product team, which is tasked with meeting with and vetting partners across the space, as well as our marketplace team, both of whom provide a holistic point of view on key industry topics. Second, our teams meet with partners and vendors during weekly office hours to keep a pulse on what is going on, while also ensuring that our specific client briefs can be addressed by the right partners.

What do clients expect from programmatic?

In a word – results. Clients want to dive in to learn how our experience complements their business and how it can drive their communication goals forward. They want to understand the rigor and due diligence we provide when servicing their business and to be given our POV on how programmatic works, including the mechanics of it. Ultimately they want a partner who can provide superior, forward-thinking tools with an innovative approach that can find creative, data-fueled ways to meet and surpass their goals. We have placed strong emphasis on managing the reality of today’s situation, what the tools can offer and where programmatic is today. There is no long term value to over-inflating capabilities, and so the best approach is an open and honest one with clients. We’ll tell them the current advantages and limitations, and position them to take advantage of improvements and new capabilities that are on the horizon. At the end of the day, all sides want to see results, because that’s good business across the board.

What does a great vendor partnership look like?

It begins with aligning on goals and approach towards attaining those goals. Clear communication with vendors involves clarity of need and transparency with implementation. We look to set ourselves apart with our partnership approach, because we do best when we partner with those who have a like-minded philosophy and roadmap to the industry. A successful partnership is one where both sides act in unison, with the knowledge that we can continue to succeed while raising our expectations for results and industry-altering projects together.

Do you feel that your relationships have the right level of transparency and honesty across the industry (publishers, DSPs, exchanges)?

The simple answer is yes – we operate under the belief that long term success requires transparency and open communication. To be frank, the industry has overly focused on the agency/trading desk in their assessment of transparency and honesty. We’ve seen little focus beyond the agency role in terms of transparency and think that a fair assessment includes all players. We aim to provide an example of this type of open relationship with our partners and clients.

What’s next for Cadreon in the programmatic world?

By optimizing our tools and taking an agile approach to our business, we’re able to position ourselves to capitalize on a future which will feature data-driven, holistic marketing strategies that will focus on reaching audiences no matter where they’re consuming content. Programmatic will not be siloed to digital media. TV, OOH, radio, cinema, etc. will all be included in media strategies that are thinking about audience targeting at a much higher level. Right now, we are bullish on bringing digital and programmatic principles to TV, OOH and other traditional media. However, they won’t be siloed executions – they will be cross-screen executions.

Our unified view of the customer means reaching these customers across all touch points, regardless of screen, device, medium, location. Then you factor in emotional context and creative application to the content which is speaking to the customers, and we’ll be positioning advertising as a whole to offer better, more meaningful value to businesses and brands, and also, importantly,  to consumers.