Decrypting Ad Tech with Sophie Toth, Global Programmatic and Ad Tech Lead at Euronews

We recently approached Sophie Toth, Global Programmatic and Ad Tech Lead at Euronews, which is a pan-European news network that has helped many European citizens stay abreast of important news events happening across the globe with a particular focus on Europe. 

Sophie holds almost a decade of experience in digital media and 6 years of experience especially focused on the programmatic industry. She has been a vocal advocate of fair business in the programmatic industry and believes in the recognition of ad ops and their constant education. She believes transparency and credibility are key to digital success.

Prior to Euronews, Sophie served as the Global Programmatic Specialist at The Economist. 

In our conversation, we discussed various issues that have been impacting publishers this year such as adapting to a world without cookies and ad fraud.

Q.1. Describe your journey as a programmatic specialist in the ad tech industry. What have been your greatest learnings?

Well – I think programmatic is the most evolving and the fastest pacing field in digital media. During these years, I had to learn to adapt and advise on ad technologies, executions, and programmatic possibilities. I had to be the BRAIN when it came to programmatic and ad tech questions. 

If you are a programmatic expert you need to constantly seek the best possible partners, have a good understanding of data, and willing to try new ways. 

As a programmatic expert, I try to constantly educate and try to clean the programmatic name in the industry as I truly believe this will be normal when it comes to media buying not only for digital but for TV, audio, and even print. Automization, transparency, and time-saving are essential, and as I can see clearly this is the way moving forward, I have learnt that the programmatic is beyond what we thought 10 years ago and by nature is very complex as well. If you are not passionate and you can’t learn to pick up the knowledge quickly you will fall out from this industry sooner or later.

Q.2. What are your plans for adapting to a world without cookies? 

I can think of 4 different approaches:

Implement substitutes and wait for Google’s solution, but we are just not there yet. 

Of course, as I believe, most of the publishers have been working on first-party data and seeking valuable data providers as well. 

Maybe try the subscription model, but for a traditional news publisher this is not the easiest option. 

Last but not least, I truly believe in proactive communication and education of our audience and gain more knowledge on how we would keep the relevance and right balance for everyone. 

We have to adapt new methods and restructure our minds as the old way of executing campaigns will disappear in a couple of months, but I would not rush and be ready for the change.

Q.3. Since this year had major ups and downs for publishers worldwide, what is the one tip that you can give for ending the year on a positive note?

I am blessed in a way that I could maintain, moreover overperform, my 2020 original target. I am a hard-working woman. 2020 was a tough year with extremely hard work and constant changes, but since the pandemic started, I was positive and I believed brands and agencies will find the best possible way to spend the already allocated marketing budget and bring value and good campaign results despite this worldwide tragedy. 

People in this industry are incredible and always think outside of the box. I can take GDPR or TCF2.0 as an example and I am 100% certain we will successfully migrate from the world of cookies to the new era of campaign targeting. But I will be honest, this will take time as well as energy and work from us. However, I think together we can!

Q.4. What technologies and tools do you rely upon the most? 

The most important for programmatic: viewability, brand-safe and IVT verification, CMP, DMP, and yield optimisation/reporting.

Data is power especially in the life of a programmatic expert.

Q.5. The term ‘Unified ID’ is making the rounds for its ability to counter a cookieless world. What are your thoughts on this? 

My answer will be short – I don’t believe we have Unified ID – we only have Unique IDs. We have a long way to reach the goal which will be Unified identification. 

Maybe we will end up having retina technology, or as it stands now, we will enter a future where we will be required to log in or use our email addresses as a key to information. In this case, everyone might have an independent “commercial-free” unique email or so which will stick with him or her forever… – My feeling is that this will point beyond advertising.

Q.6. Both client-side and server-side header bidding have their own pros and cons. Which do you recommend?

Server-side – I have been waiting for this for so long. Better user experience and less worry in terms of the limitation of demand partners, latency. But on the flip side, it requires more back end troubleshooting, which takes time, and simultaneous collaboration between programmatic and dev teams. 

Q.7. Do you think ad fraud has taken a backseat amidst COVID and the impending cookie-apocalypse? Does it still remain a big threat?

No, if you don’t talk about something doesn’t mean you don’t fight against it. We have – let’s say – “digital or marketing fashion” as well, whereby we have popular topics and some topics fade away from webinars and interviews. Before we came together for learning and discussing, what we have, and where digital marketing will go, we have been creating new BUZZ words, and these become part of our everyday job for years until a new thing will come on board- this is the sign of revolution. But back to your question, this is a real and existing threat and we must keep on eliminating these players. 

Q.8. With 2021 around the corner, January slump awaits publishers. How do you plan to sail through it?

January has been always slower than other months, but the pandemic has changed many things that could be different in 2021. I can imagine, losing months from 2020 ad spend could result in a budget shift to Q1 but we will see. 

If there will be less attraction in January on the demand-side, I still have many projects, tasks, and planning to do. Hence for me, January would be the same as other usually busy months. 

On the other hand, maybe this slump as you called it, has been happening naturally. The industry can focus on its year plans and what they needed to delay in Q4. They have time to sort out. 

About Sophie Toth

Sophie is a Programmatic and ad tech lead who is passionate about her profession. During her years in the industry, she was able to meet and learn from industry leaders as well as help businesses in their programmatic journey. Sophie is proud of what she has achieved so far but her destination in her career still needs to be fulfilled.

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