By bsr - February 12th, 2015

Chris Pirrone is the General Manager of USA Today’s Sports Digital Properties, and an authority on programmatic advertising.  We recently spoke with Chris about the future of programmatic, approaches to adopting new strategies and adapting to a changing market, and the main sticking points for everyone in the industry – Brands, Publishers, Agencies, and Ad Tech. According to Chris, “everyone should be interested in programmatic.” 

In your opinion, Chris, why should companies – brands, publishers, agencies – be concerned with programmatic advertising? USA Today

Chris Pirrone: Because brand’s budgets and DR are moving into the programmatic space, so brands can increase administrative efficiencies with media buys, and layer on their first party data to target ads and better achieve their marketing goals.

So what’s your current approach to programmatic at USA Today? How are you using it?

 Given the large budgets currently in, and moving to, programmatic, and the administrative/targeting/billing efficiencies it drives, we are aggressively implementing support for programmatic, and seek to be on the cutting edge of supporting programmatic trends.  We currently support it across all of our media – desktop, mobile and video.

Do you think the increasing maturity of programmatic technology will influence your broader strategy as a publisher?

Chris Pirrone_USA Today Chris Pirrone, General Manager of Sports Digital Properties - USA Today

 We expect automated buying to account for 50% of business, so we need to hire and allocate resources accordingly.

 What will you do this year to meet or exceed those expectations?  How do you plan on increasing resources devoted to programmatic?

 We are investing in relationship/sales and account management that understand and will support programmatic. We also need to have ops personnel that can implement it.

 Currently how many people do you have who are devoted to your programmatic efforts?

 Right now, we have four.

And what would you say is the biggest challenge for your programmatic team?  What’s the most difficult aspect of the programmatic landscape? 

 The technology is not yet ready to support the complete seamless vision of programmatic.  Buys still require many steps – Buyer to ATD to DSP to SSP to Publisher.

So at the end of last year the ANA announced that “programmatic” was their word of the year for 2014.  If you could predict the future, what will the word of the year be for 2015?

 One word? Data.

Finally, in your professional opinion, as someone well versed in programmatic, what would you as re the best tech providers in the space?

 There’s really a multitude, and it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

How many of these challenges are affecting your work?  Join Chris and his peers from across publishing, brands and agencies at the Programmatic Summit to get answers to the toughest programmatic questions.  Check the event brochure to see the full speaker faculty and our detailed agenda.  

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