Commentary

New LUMAscapes To Come: Q&A With LUMA's Terry Kawaja

Terry Kawaja is founder and chief executive officer of LUMA Partners, the venture firm focused on marketing technology. 

Kawaja will be speaking at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference set to begin Oct. 24 in the new Second Stage forum, a more intimate setting for learning about what’s new and what’s next.  

The Association of National Advertisers' group executive vice president, Bill Duggan, interviewed Kawaja on the challenges and opportunities in today’s complex marketing ecosystem.

Bill Duggan: Your firm, LUMA, is the leading investment bank focused on digital media and marketing.  What is it about the digital media and marketing industry that currently excites you the most?

Terry Kawaja: What I love about digital media and marketing is its dynamics. Never have I seen a sector evolve so rapidly and undergo so much change. 

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In the span of only 10 years, programmatic spend grew from zero to over $50 billion and that attracted over 5,000 new companies that were formed to help along the way in terms of software, data, media or services. This change comes with a price, as existing players cope with these new technologies, new business models and a new competitive set. 

Today, I am most excited about the digital addressability of TV as it shifts toward more audience-based buying. I am hopeful that we will witness the advantages that digital addressability brings in terms of targeting and efficiency while avoiding the pitfalls of what happened to display, all while preserving the incredibly powerful storytelling capability of sight, sound and motion. 

I suspect someday soon we will simply drop the adjective “digital.”

Duggan: Given your focus on digital, how concerned are you with the various issues in the digital ecosystem such as viewability, brand safety, bot fraud, and transparency?  

Kawaja: I am very concerned over these issues as they have material ramifications on the health of the channel. 

It is right for marketers to demand changes, and the power of the purse will ensure these issues are addressed, even by the largest players. 

Sometimes I feel like these aspects are built into media pricing. That said, certain trends towards first-party identity and performance media will serve to mitigate these problems. If the marketer is only paying for business outcomes, many of these issues go away.

Duggan: Your LUMAscapes are important industry resources that organize the ecosystem across critical categories and provide clarity to a complex landscape.  When did you publish your first LUMAscape, and how many are there now?  Do you see any new LUMAscapes emerging in the near future? 

Kawaja: I first created the precursor to the LUMAscape in 2009 as an internal tool to understand the complex sector. It became popular once I debuted the original DISPLAY LUMAscape publicly in early 2010. 

Today there are 19 LUMAscapes, depicting over 5,000 companies, which thave been viewed and downloaded over 7 million times from people in over 200 countries — which is crazy. 

We will keep making maps of important channels as they emerge. To cite two examples, we are working on an AUDIO LUMAscape to capture the high growth of marketing applications from podcasts to voice command home speakers, and a D2C BRAND LUMAscape to map the explosive growth of the direct-to-consumer marketer sector. It is this latter D2C category that is the focus of my upcoming talk in Orlando.

Duggan: Your session at ANA Masters of Marketing will address how traditional marketers can reinvent themselves.  Can you give us a glimpse of how that reinvention could be done?

Kawaja: As the theme of your event — “Growth: Mastering Brands and Driving Results” — points out, the underlying priority of marketing is results. While such growth has been tepid across marketers as a whole, D2C Brands are experiencing explosive growth. My talk examines whythis phenomenon occurred, how D2C Brands are achieving such incredible results, and what can be learned by other marketers to reinvigorate growth.

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