Experian’s President of Marketing Services, Kevin Dean sits down with us to discuss the future of Adtech
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Dean, Experian’s President of Marketing Services for North America. Kevin is responsible for the strategic growth and direction of the business, which focuses on helping brands have more meaningful interactions with people.
Chris: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become involved in the adtech or digital media space?
“Much of the early part of my career was spent in the direct marketing space — overseeing direct and credit marketing products lines. But, in the mid- to late-2000s, we saw the budgets for direct marketing start to decrease and the dollars shift to digital advertising. Different perspectives about data began to surface. The ad tech industry was convinced that 1st party digital behavioral data was the only asset needed. However, direct marketers knew that there was tremendous value in 3rd party data, particularly when it was combined with 1st party data and analytics. When used responsibly, direct marketers could leverage the data to provide consumers with advertisements that matter most to them. As direct marketers, we knew we could apply the data-driven method we had perfected over the past 40 years, in a responsible manner, and make it relevant for digital channels.
And, out of that approach, more and more data-driven companies were born. My previous employer was looking to divest the direct marketing portion of the business, and so I came to Experian. And, at Experian, data matters. We’re focused on helping brands use data and technology responsibly to make more informed marketing decisions and have meaningful interactions with people.”
Chris: What do you think is the most interesting thing that has happened to the industry thus far?
“Over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of changes within the industry, but none quite as exciting as the changes we’re experiencing now, especially with video and mobile. If we think back just 10 years ago, everything on TV was linear. From point A to point B — reaching one overly-generalized audience. But, now we have addressable TV, over-the-top video, etc. TV and video have become as data-driven as any other channel.
And, it goes even a step further when you take into account mobile devices. Everything is connected through mobile. In fact, most millennials — my children included — consume video on their mobile devices. It’s not just about the TV screen. So, as brands think about how to reach the consumer of tomorrow and have a meaningful conversation with them, they need to start with video and mobile. Both present an opportunity to reach people on a personal level, through a channel and device that most relate to. The amazing aspect of each of these is neither is in early stages, but both have tremendous growth potential.
The consumer always needs to be at the heart of everything we do as an industry. And we have the data and technology, as well as an understanding of the trends to help brands make more informed marketing decisions and have a meaningful conversation with their customers.”
Chris: What are your “5 things you think will change or should change over the next 5 years in adtech and digital publishing” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
“1. Linear TV will become less and less important, as more viewers will cut the cord and use OTT (over-the-top) options to consume media.
2. Identifying your target audience will continue to become even more challenging with more devices, but also more critical as consumers continue to expect personalized experiences. And connecting the identities across those devices will determine which brands have the most meaningful and lasting conversations with their customers.
3. Measurement will continue to become smarter and more efficient. Measurement is one of the most important ways to make sure marketers are delivering the right messages to the right people. Before launching a campaign, marketers need to make sure they have a clear goal. Most digital marketers will judge the success of a campaign by online events, such as site visits, form completions, or online purchases. However, marketers need to consider measurement of offline metrics like phone calls or in person visits to a brick and mortar store. Offline metrics are essential to campaign performance, but are frequently overlooked. Marketers need to have the ability to test and adjust campaigns quickly and efficiently.
4. Programmatic and addressable will shift the way television ads are consumed and measured. CEO’s are constantly thinking of how to better deliver their messages while personalizing the user experience, and this holds true in TV. Data will be used to help make TV advertising smarter and more efficient. Whether it’s through programmatic, the automation of audience-based TV advertising through a software platform, or addressable TV, where advertisers use programmatic technology and advanced audience segmentation to deliver specific video ads at a household level in real time. The TV advertising industry needs to adopt to changing times if they want to survive.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t just a buzz phrase that will slip into obscurity. It has real potential. And, advertisers can harness the technology to have more meaningful interactions with their customers. Everything from content to delivery channel should be improved through enhanced AI.”
Chris: Tell us something you or your company is doing to stay up to date in adtech (maybe making changes to comply with Better Ads Standards or GDPR, working on your header bidding stack or testing new types of ads)
“As we think about the advancement and evolution of adtech, we need to think about how we use data and technology to help brands make better marketing decisions and have a meaningful conversation with their customers. Everything advertisers do needs to have the end-customer in mind. And at Experian, we believe a primary component of achieving that goal starts with identity. We want to make sure people only receive messages that are relevant and matter to them.
We’re also looking to improve the online bidding process. As real-time bidding requests come in, we provide additional data and analytics to help advertisers better understand their target audience. This leads to increased fill rates for publishers, and enables advertisers to have a more meaningful conversation with consumers.”
Chris: Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
“As a kid from Akron, Ohio myself, it would be interesting to have a private conversation with LeBron James. Growing up as a prodigy, he’s become more than a basketball player or an athlete. He’s truly made himself into role model, media mogul and marketing genius. While we’d be able to share stories about our hometown, it would be a great opportunity to understand how his mind works — particularly from a marketing perspective. He’s exceptionally intelligent. He’d have a ton to share.”