Greg Williams, the co-founder of MediaMath, wants to invent an “easy button” for marketers, so they can press it to instantly determine how to best allocate budgets for brands.
Last week, after working with Audigent as an advisor for the past year, he joined the company as president.
If you don’t recognize Williams’ name from MediaMath, you may know him from Rocket Fuel. The company was formerly known as X+1. Williams served as director of digital marketing strategy for paid and owned media, and also served clients while at The Nielsen Company.
Data & Programmatic Insider caught up with Williams to talk about his decision to join Audigent, what time frame he would most like to be in, his goals for 2022, and his thoughts on the advertising industry’s biggest challenges.
D&PI: If you could invent one thing to better support clients, what would that be?
Williams: In all seriousness, the real version of the "easy button" is a data framework that provides a true understanding of what drives marketing success across all channels and devices.
What marketers really need is a common data framework that meets privacy regulations and respects consumer values while providing information across devices and markets so the marketer can feel very confident in decision making.
D&PI: Have you always loved data?
Williams: I was very curious as a kid, wanting to understand how things worked. Naturally, this evolved into being very quantitative and data-driven as I got older and started understanding the power of data and information.
D&PI: When did you discover data would be the focus of your career?
Williams: I started my career in management consulting and quickly found my way onto projects working through econometric and marketing-mix models. This was at a time when “online advertising” was a single bucket of model inputs and marketers were trying to find optimal allocations between magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, and "online." Boy, how times have changed.
D&PI: Did you have a chosen career path in high school? If yes, what and why?
Williams: Reflecting, I was naturally drawn toward engineering as a field of study -- I think to satisfy my constant curiosity in understanding how things work.
D&PI: What is the best piece of business advice anyone gave you, and from whom?
Williams: Calculated risks are worth it. Take the leap.
D&PI: What is the best novel you ever read, and why?
Williams: I'm not much of a fiction reader, but one of the best books I’ve recently read is Grit by Angela Duckworth, about the power of passion and perseverance. The lesson is how important it is to push through challenging periods.
This book is top of mind as a father working to teach my four young kids about grit. We have a simple mantra at home for when things get difficult -- "don’t give up." I spend a lot of time using this mantra with them on "homework."
D&PI: How might it relate to your career choice?
Williams: It relates to any builder -- to anyone who has built companies.
D&PI: If you could live in any century, which one would you live in and why?
Williams: I would go back in time to the rise of the computing age in the 20th century. This was a time when information availability to all exploded.
Knowing then what we all know now, there is so much we could have done to rethink challenges our entire society faces today -- solving problems in better, longer-lasting ways.
D&PI: What brought you to Audigent?
Williams: Looking at the current programmatic landscape, there are fundamental opportunities within reach that can transform the future of our industry.
Identity, obviously, is foundational -- but there is so much beyond just identity. Rethinking how we view marketers and publishers offer these critical stakeholders an opportunity to take control of their own unique digital assets: their data, their media, and of course, their customers.
This affords the opportunity to create and scale solutions that bring it all together in safe and privacy-friendly ways, by curating data and media together with the power of AI.
This means every marketer and publisher has a "retail media" opportunity, as they think about their own unique assets such as data, identity, and technology in different and better ways that combine with media.
I spent the better part of the last decade building, cultivating and leading MediaMath’s extensive and vast digital supply chain.
I met Audigent CEO Drew Stein and the Audigent leadership team in the fall of 2020 and recognized Audigent’s mission was tied to innovating the digital supply chain in a new way. I was excited to build on that work and bring my experience with scaling businesses broadly, to advance this specific and critical part of the programmatic ecosystem.
D&PI: Are there similarities between Audigent and MediaMath?
Williams: Audigent and MediaMath are close partners today with extremely complementary offerings. MediaMath brings a globally scaled buying platform with a uniquely built supply chain, where everything is customizable to meet a marketer’s needs. Audigent is very much a specialist, focused on curated marketplaces and cookieless identity.
What we have seen is that when we work together with MediaMath and other ecosystem partners is that our technologies unlock even more value by simultaneously improving performance for advertisers and monetization for sellers.
D&PI: What are the top three goals for 2022?
Williams: We have lofty and exciting plans for 2022. A key focus for us is to accelerate the retail media revolution. We can help every company that has a relationship with consumers to understand how they can use that opt-in relationship to control their own media and data strategy.
The industry is seeing this happen with Amazon and Walmart, but the opportunity is right there for countless brands, regardless of industry.
On top of that, Audigent has a unique approach to data activation and proven execution. Having co-founded and built a global programmatic business, one of my goals as president is certainly to build the foundation for scale, so that we can meet the huge growth in demand for Audigent solutions.
The third goal is to build a culture that delivers the best career paths for people who are passionate about data and technology. We have an amazing team and company culture today. As we grow, a critical part of our success is ensuring that this fantastic culture is at the center of everything we do.
D&PI: What is the industry's biggest challenge for 2022?
Williams: The evolution of identity necessitates that companies take action now. This way, they can drive success today and control their own advertising and marketing destiny in the future.
The deprecation of the cookie has become the catalyst for building back better within the ad industry. This means rethinking all of the rules put in place during the first decade of the programmatic evolution.
The biggest challenge is building for a future in a constant state of change, impacted by everything from browser policy to privacy and regulation to walled-garden evolution, just to name a few.
That said, challenges also present amazing opportunities for the brave.