What's On Tap For Media: A Conversation With Ad Council's DJ Perera

As Chief Media Officer of the Ad Council, DJ Perera oversees $1 billion in donated media support for public service ad campaigns annually making her one of the biggest media-buyers in the world. In March, she will host the ANA Media Conference.  Bill Duggan, Group Executive Vice President of the ANA, caught up with her for the pre-conference conversation that follows.

Bill Duggan: Tell us a bit about your role at the Ad Council and the internal team that manages that investment. 

DJ Perera: The Ad Council convenes creative storytellers to educate, unite and uplift audiences by opening hearts, inspiring action, and accelerating change around the most pressing issues in America. We are thankful to have supportive partners across advertising, media, marketing, entertainment, and tech who generously provide us with donated media to distribute our campaign messages at scale for impact on social issues. The Ad Council’s Media Team focuses on media strategy, engagement, partnerships, activations, and operations across all media channels in both mainstream and emerging media. As the Ad Council’s Chief Media officer, I am focused on evolving the Ad Council’s media model and developing strategic partnerships across the media ecosystem.



Duggan: Pick one – CTV, retail media networks, gaming, diverse owned media. What is it that excites you about the opportunity in that space and what are some challenges to address? 

Perera: Media engagement leads on my team are currently working to deepen relationships with various diverse-owned media publishers and suppliers. And I’m glad that the media industry has put more focus there over the last few years. I do believe, though, that there is opportunity for the advertising industry as a whole to allocate more investment to help grow the space, partner with outlets in more meaningful ways, and analyze the ad tech supply chain to get more working media revenue into the hands of publishers with quicker payment terms.

Duggan: “AI” is probably the hottest topic in the ad industry right now. In your view, what are the biggest opportunities for the ad industry with AI?

Perera: In my opinion generative AI has the potential to increase productivity for certain tasks such as conducting research or automating data entry or generating real-time messaging to be more relevant to each consumer’s need. Of course, utilizing it should be done with a healthy degree of care: respecting consumer privacy, obtaining proper consent for use of IP, ensuring the right level of human oversight, and avoiding misuse, bias, legal risk, and other potential harm.

Duggan: The Ad Council recently announced the launch of its Emerging Media & Technology Committee. Tell us about the purpose of that group.

Perera: The Emerging Media & Technology Committee brings together emerging media and technology leaders across the industry who want to inspire action and drive social impact across AI, web3, immersive experiences, and other nascent media and technologies. The intention is to grow the Ad Council’s reach, brand relevance, and credibility in emerging spaces by experimenting with new verticals through partnerships that ensure Ad Council campaigns are driving the most impact in new spaces. 

Duggan: In December ANA released its programmatic media transparency report. What are some key insights from that report that advertisers should be paying attention to?  

Perera: The ANA’s programmatic media transparency report was quite illuminating. It revealed the high incidence of MFA websites and that the average campaign ran on 44,000 websites! I was also, unfortunately, not surprised to learn that only 36 cents per dollar is allocated to working media at the end of the ad tech supply chain. The most impactful part of the report, though, was that it outlined clear actions to help advertisers mitigate the loss of efficiency that is inherent in the programmatic open exchange. 

Duggan: Do you have a favorite current Ad Council campaign?

Perera: That’s a hard question to answers as each of the Ad Council’s campaigns is focused on educating and uniting Americans around specific issues and accelerating change. Our Love Has No Labels and Belonging Begins With Us campaigns encourages inclusivity; our mental health, and substance use and overdose campaigns focus on educating and removing the associated stigmas to drive individual action; and our gun violence prevention campaigns encourage safe gun use and safe storage. 

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