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1. What do you do at Sovrn and how does that work contribute to Sovrn’s mission?

I’m a product manager at Sovrn’s Boulder Headquarters. My role is a bit unique in that the engineers I work with are based in our London office. They’re the original engineering team from //Signal, a UK based company we acquired back in 2016, led by Adam Kosinar (previously //Signal’s CTO). I’m responsible for building our product roadmap,  which at times can be challenging as I have business stakeholders on both sides of the pond. However, it’s exciting as the London team builds some really amazing, high impact products. First and foremost, they built Viewable Engagement Time (//Signal), a revolutionary product that enables publishers to generate more revenue from the ad placements where users are most engaged.  It’s core to our mission that we help those publishers who create truly engaging content, and it’s, therefore, the one product at Sovrn I’m most excited to work on. Secondly, we work on //Connect: the delivery mechanism for nearly all of our products that require code on the page. From a single line of javascript (yes, I really mean just one!) we can now deploy and remove five key products all from our Meridian Dashboard, with many more coming. Most recently, our team built Sovrn’s Consent Management Platform (CMP) enabling publishers to be compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

2. Can you share your thoughts GDPR, CMP’s and how it’s changing the programmatic landscape?

On the one hand, the underlying goal of GDPR is very important: to inform users of the data we collect about them online, especially in advertising, and to get their consent before using it. Historically, many internet companies, especially those in programmatic advertising, have earned a bad reputation for not being transparent about their data collection practices. This resulted in consumers speaking out about the violation of their privacy. So in this regard, GDPR is of utmost importance, as it requires everyone in the industry to be transparent and honest with users. A CMP is a standardized tool that publishers need to implement in order to be transparent, and because our mission is to enable publishers to do more of what they love and less of what they don’t, we decided to build one. Today, we’re the only SSP in the market to offer a CMP free to all of our publishers.  On the other hand, however, GDPR remains a challenge. It’s a difficult time for publishers to earn the revenue they need to provide premium content to users, and restricting the data used for personalizing ad experiences, in turn, reduces revenue for publishers. We also need to get everyone on the same page laid out by the IAB in the Transparency and Consent Framework, from small startups to massive platforms. We’re not there yet, but Sovrn hopes that by doing the right thing with our publishers and partners, we can all create the critical mass needed to push the industry forward in a good way.  

3. What’s next for Sovrn and your team?

We’ve recently launched two big products: our CMP, discussed above, and our new header bidding solution, which is all deployed and managed from //Connect (it makes the set-up SO much easier). These products are still relatively new in the market, and while they’re fully scalable, we’re listening to our customers about additional features we can build to make them even better. Beyond that, we’re always working with other engineering teams at Sovrn to integrate more products into //Connect. This allows publishers to test and integrate products with as little hassle as possible. We also have some big projects in the pipeline around better reporting in our //Meridian dashboard, not just on ad revenue, but on audience engagement, and linking other partner data. Finally, we’re actively working to move the market towards an ad buying model based on the time spent engaging with an ad, ie Cost Per Hour (CPH) or Cost Per Second (CPS), over the existing model of simply buying an impression, Cost Per 1000 Impressions (CPM). Between all of that, cheering on England in the World Cup, and making time for bike racing, it’s shaping up to a busy summer and an exciting end of 2018!

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