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Here are the top ad tech execs designing the next-generation of programmatic advertising. 

From left: Jana Meron, David Temkin, Linda Payson, Eric Austin, Kodi Foster, Jill Toscano, Arun Kumar, Sheri Bachstein, Garett McGrath, Tanneasha Gordon, Mike Nuzzo, Susan Grossman 

Google won’t officially kill off third-party cookies on Chrome web browsers until 2023, but brands, publishers and ad tech companies are getting ready now. It is going to be an active year for the ad community as it works to figure out digital marketing beyond cookies and current ways of collecting data on consumers. 

Publishers like The Washington Post and Insider are developing ad products that rely on first-party data sets and contextual targeting. Brands like Mastercard are building data platforms to personalize services. IBM Watson Advertising is using weather patterns to help marketers fine-tune ad campaigns.

As this cookieless technology takes shape, here’s a look at some of the ad execs who are leading the efforts to figure this all out. 

Susan Grossman

Susan Grossman, Mastercard

Mastercard, where Grossman is executive VP of marketing services, is an example of a brand that is making investments in first-party data, which is directly collected from consumers instead of bought through outside data brokers and third-party trackers online. The company recently struck a deal with McDonald’s to buy Dynamic Yield, an artificial intelligence-powered personalization platform. McDonald’s will still use the data platform, which it bought in 2019 to help tailor services for customers coming to its fast-food restaurants.

Mastercard plans to use Dynamic Yield and other data assets to personalize services, too, some of which it already is testing around the world. One of the experimental programs is running with First Abu Dhabi Bank, where bank customers can “opt-in to share their location and receive tailored, relevant offers and experiences in real-time from nearby merchants,” a Mastercard spokesperson said.

Eric Austin

Eric Austin, Procter & Gamble

Austin is the senior director of global brand building and media innovation at Procter & Gamble. The consumer products maker has been advocating for post-cookie ad targeting tech for years under chief brand officer Marc Pritchard.

Austin is “leading our work to provide relevant and useful advertising experiences to our consumers in any environment,” a P&G spokesperson said by email. “This includes working key partnerships and looking at areas like contextual signals to deliver superior experiences in a privacy centric way.”

Jill Toscano  Credit: Getty Images

Jill Toscano, Walmart

Toscano, as VP of media, reports to Walmart’s chief marketing officer William White. Toscano develops direct relationships with consumers through content commerce marketing campaigns. Walmart calls it “grocery commerce,” which the company describes as a way to reach consumers with “shoppable one-click recipes.”

“We’ve been able to streamline the very fragmented and multi-step process across recipe discovery, meal planning, shopping and cooking,” a Walmart spokesperson said by email.

Saleel Sathe, Walmart’s VP of performance marketing, also is working on post-cookie marketing strategies. Sathe is developing more direct relationships with consumers through channels like push notifications and surveys.

Tanneasha Gordon

Tanneasha Gordon, Deloitte & Touche

Gordon has described herself on her LinkedIn page as the “Olivia Pope of privacy,” referring to the famed fictional fixer from Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal.” Gordon consults with chief marketers around the world about the risks of privacy breeches and how to build trust with consumers.

In September, Gordon appeared on the podcast “Office Hours” with Jim Stengel, who is a former global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble, during which she discussed the problems of online surveillance advertising. Gordon was joined on the podcast by Kelly Leger, partner and managing director at Deloitte Digital. Both execs are helping Deloitte clients plan for post-cookie advertising. “A lot of consumers have become more aware of their privacy and their rights,” Gordon said, “and being tracked, whether it’s digital or physical, is kind of creepy in certain ways.”

Gordon said brands grew too reliant on cookies as an easy path to accessing data on consumers. Now, brands have to become more sophisticated with how they collect and use data. “Cookies allowed you to just be transactional, now you’re going to be relational,” Gordon said.

David Temkin

David Temkin, Google

Google is undoubtedly one of the most influential companies working to develop cookieless ad targeting. The whole publishing and ad tech world is waiting to see how the search giant, and its web browser and devices, handle ad targeting without third-party cookies. Last year, Google postponed the timeline to rid Chrome of third-party cookies until 2023, but it’s working on the next phase of programmatic ad technology now in what it calls its Privacy Sandbox.

Temkin, Google’s senior director of product management for ads privacy and user trust, is one of the most important execs in the space. Last year, Temkin led Google’s announcement that the company would not use alternative identifiers to track consumers online. Temkin also is integral to Google’s third-party cookie deprecation plans and its first-party data products in development, a Google spokesperson told Ad Age.

Kodi Foster

Kodi Foster, Washington Post

In September, Foster was hired as VP of commercial at Washington Post, where he is leading the charge on new monetization technology and advertising products. The Washington Post has been rolling out its Zeus Technology ad platform, which also is being sold to local publishers and others to implement post-cookie targeting in their ad ecosystems.

“The Washington Post is focused on helping brands identify their audiences through behaviors such as content consumption patterns, allowing marketers to ensure their messages reach the right audiences at scale, and while protecting user privacy,” a Washington Post spokesperson told Ad Age by email. “Zeus Insights, The Post’s contextual intelligence layer, creates the ability to better understand and predict where an audience is going to be for quality, effective targeting.”

Mike Nuzzo

Mike Nuzzo, Hearst

Publishers like Hearst are working feverishly to design new methods of ad targeting. Nuzzo is leading the charge as head of Hearst data solutions. Hearst is testing almost every means of collecting first-party data through a “persistent ID” across all the domains in its portfolio. Hearst also is testing cookieless ad delivery tools like LiveRamp ATS and Unified ID 2.0, Nuzzo said by email.

“We have also doubled-down on [first-party] data anonymous data by reconfiguring our tech stack for more complete [first-party] cookie solution,” Nuzzo said. “This new solution allow for IDs to be stored and captured server-side for longer, more accurate, and more privacy-compliant use cases.”

Hearst also is dabbling in clean room technology, which is a term becoming more and more familiar to ad tech experts. Clean rooms are secure computing data hubs, where publishers and advertisers can share data sets in an anonymous setting.

“We have seen use cases ranging from overlap analysis to advance audience insights used to power programmatic buying and custom content programs emerge from these new data sharing tools,” Nuzzo said. 

Jana Meron

Jana Meron, Insider

Meron, Insider’s senior VP of programmatic and data strategy, has been helping the publisher develop a first-party data platform called SAGA. “Under Meron, Insider continues to innovate powerful new tools that offer partners radically new ways of making the most of their first-party data,” an Insider spokesperson said.

SAGA was launched nearly two years ago, and the publisher said it has seen “hockey stick growth.” Brands use SAGA to target ads without relying on third-party cookies. Instead, there are behavioral and contextual cues delivered by Insider, which has the direct relationship with readers.

Sheri Bachstein

Sheri Bachstein, The Weather Company and IBM Watson Advertising

Bachstein is CEO of The Weather Company and general manager at IBM Watson Advertising, so her role spans across ad tech worlds. Bachstein said that the ad tech space is looking for new ways to deliver ads that don’t rely on traditional identifiers like third-party cookies, which have gotten a bad rap for peeking into consumers’ web habits without their consent.

“IBM Watson Advertising has tapped into the powerful relationship between weather and consumer behavior to help brands turn complex data sets, like health conditions, product sales and consumer activity into actionable solutions, without relying on third-party cookie data,” Bachstein told Ad Age in an e-mail.

Linda Payson

Linda Payson, Mediavine

Payson is VP of product at Mediavine, a programmatic advertising platform that works with 9,000 publishers, and she sits on the board of Prebid, a consortium of ad tech companies working on cookie replacements. Prebid is best known for trying to develop Unified ID 2.0 as an alternative identifier across the web once cookies are shut down.

“One of [Payson’s] key career accomplishments is leading the development of a self-service marketplace allowing the buying of first-party data and publisher-direct inventory to empower publisher supply partners to have better protection and control of their data,” a Mediavine spokesperson told Ad Age.

Arun Kumar

Arun Kumar, IPG

As chief data and technology officer at IPG and CEO of Kinesso, the data, technology and media platform, Kumar is one of the ad executives deeply involved in post-cookie planning. For instance, Kinesso’s Kii technology, launched last year, is a next-generation identifier that could help replace the cookie.

All the major media holding companies and their data divisions are developing identifiers, which are considered cookie alternatives. IPG and Kinesso did not have permission to name the brands that have so far tried the Kii ad ID in programmatic ad buys, but they include a “large national pharmacy brand and a major credit card provider,” an IPG spokesperson said.

Garett McGrath

Garrett McGrath, Magnite

Magnite is a supply-side platform working with publishers to get the most out of selling their online ad inventory without the need for cookies. McGrath, as VP of product management at Magnite, is “working closely with sellers and buyers to navigate this transition seamlessly, including investing in new tools that leverage first-party data and integrations with data providers in order to scale its audience management capabilities,” a Magnite spokesperson told Ad Age.

Last year, McGrath spearheaded Magnite’s “publisher first-party segments initiative.” “The initiative brought together over 30 participants across the media landscape,” according to the spokesperson. “The initiative addresses the needs of buyers and sellers in a cookieless environment by providing buyers with scalable audience targeting opportunities while safeguarding user identity and browsing history.”

Magnite is now working with Prebid and IAB Tech Lab’s Addressability working group to expand the publisher initiative.


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