Commentary

Real-Time With Varick Media's Sandie Milberg

Earlier this week, Varick Media named Sandie Milberg as senior vice president, platform sales. Milberg previously served as vice president, east sales for Underdog Media, and has also worked for Rocket Fuel.

RTM Daily spoke with Milberg this afternoon about her new role, what her short- and long-term goals are, technology in general, and how a trade desk really fits in with programmatic buying. 

RTM Daily: Why did you take the roll?

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Sandie Milberg: First off, I think the pace of media going programmatic is increasing rapidly.  Previously working at an ad network and working with exchanges, I've always thought, being on sales-side, that small and middle sized agencies don't have the backing that these large agencies have to compete with them for business. I really think Varick fills that need, in helping small to mid size agencies adjusting to the programmatic ecosystem.

RTM Daily: What are "Platform Sales?" And who do you report to?

Milberg: "Platform Sales" means VMM is out positioning ourselves as experts in the programmatic and real-time technology stacks. It is about offering our clients the platforms to enable their success. We are selling that capability. I report direct directly to our President, Paul Rostkowski.

RTM Daily: What do you hope to achieve short-term? Long-term?

Milberg: I think that on some points the goals are the same. Providing tools for the small and mid size agencies, for example, is both short- and long-term. Short-term, we are providing access to not only display, but TV, radio, mobile, etc…with Varick at the center of all of it.

Long-term, Varick wants to have a robust offering where all media can be viable and tradable, not only like we have in the US today, but bring it internationally

RTM Daily: What's your favorite tech? (What makes you say, "Wow" the most)?

Milberg: There's a lot of…people trying to find ways to make money illegitimately. There's software that can sniff out masked sites. I think it's cool because you are eliminating people that are trying to steal your impressions. It doesn't necessarily hurt the publisher in terms of money, but it hurts the brands and advertisers. It can be an issue on exchanges without the right measures in place, which we have at Varick.

RTM Daily: Technology is infiltrating our lives and businesses too much. True or False?

Milberg: From a business perspective, I think it's great. It makes work a lot more exciting, and it's my job to understand what those technologies are.

On the life side, I have to sit down with my daughter and flip through pictures for 10 minutes on an iPhone or else she gets mad when I take it away. Maybe we are on our devices too much. They are certainly a way of life.

RTM Daily: Does programmatic buying have a ceiling?

Milberg: I'm sure there will be a ceiling one day, but its not identifiable right now. It will keep evolving and take in other media.

As more TV goes to addressable, that's where all the biggest budgets are. As TV becomes more programmatic, then really the sky becomes the limit because you have access to the largest advertising budgets.

RTM Daily: What has been overhyped in the space? What is being underhyped?

Milberg: Too much: efficiencies, low CPMs, non-premuim environments, driving prices down for publishers.

Not enough: advantages it has for advertisers themselves, such as massive reach, scale, results (both on branding side and DR side). I think the industry as a whole needs to talk about these benefits more, and Varick wants to be a leader in those conversions. It's not just about low CPMs and efficiencies. People need to have smarter conversations with their clients to educate them.

RTM Daily: Doesn't it seem like, fundamentally, trading desks would be in a weird spot when it comes to automated advertising? How does Varick stay relevant amidst all of this technology?

Milberg: I think part of that has to do with Varick's approach. Our mantra is that it's about the man and the machine.

On the machine side, we make the choice as to what DSPs clients should use. But you also need human capital involved. We also have an engineering team to further improve particular algorithms of our APIs to the specific DSPs. A client won't invest an entire engineering team to build up what's already out there. We've also created our own DMP. We believe the future and value of getting to clients will be through the data.

RTM Daily: Thanks for your time! Any additional comments?

Milberg: The trading desk space and programmatic buying will be constantly evolving. It's exciting to get into all types of media. It's exciting to go to what has used to be purely digital people and talk about all of their media in relation to programmatic buying.

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