Q&A with Clay Gill

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LOS ANGELES, Today: Former Head of digital performance at WPP media agency Mindshare, Clay Gill, has been appointed as AU/NZ general manager at NASDAQ-listed, global advertising technology shop The Trade Desk, which has also joined IAB NZ to bolster its role in the development of adtech in NZ.

Gill took up the Sydney-based role following the elevation of his predecessor, Mitch Waters, to senior VP of South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

The Trade Desk has recently joined IAB New Zealand to bolster its role in the development of adtech in New Zealand.

The Trade Desk is a global technology company based in Ventura, California. It offers brands and media buyers a self-service platform to manage data-driven advertising campaigns. It has revenue of US$477 million, and 700 employees.

M+AD grilled Gill (via email) about his company’s plans to grow programmatic in “a fertile New Zealand market”:

I’ve been working in the industry for about 23 years, and in that time I’ve led large teams in media agencies such as Mediacom and Mindshare, spanning investment, account management and strategy in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as England.

I was head of FAST (Future Adaptive Specialist Team) for Australia and New Zealand for Mindshare – an advanced digital performance team. There, we consulted and advised high-end clients – helping them navigate their decision making in media and technology.

Before coming to The Trade Desk, I was with [24]7.ai. That role was all about how you connect enterprise chat with martech through the means of Search and dynamic optimisation – really ground-breaking stuff.

What initially attracted you to The Trade Desk?
When I learned about the opportunity at The Trade Desk, I jumped at the chance to be a part of this team. I knew that the technology was fantastic and I had heard that the culture was second to none. Those were two key drivers for me wanting to join the team. Another motivation for joining The Trade Desk was the focus on the buy-side, and being in a position to advise on smarter and more strategic creative thinking. 

Did you work directly in the New Zealand market?
On numerous occasions. At the time, I was working closely with the Mindshare NZ team.

“The great strength you see in NZ is that we can do new things all the time. It’s a hotbed for testing new approaches.”

What have you observed in the adoption of programmatic in the New Zealand market?
We are looking forward to advocating for programmatic in IAB New Zealand. One of the great strengths of New Zealand is the level of mobile penetration – the device usage per head. By that, I mean there is a high frequency of mobile phone, smart TV and tablet use, and a good supply of inventory for these audiences.

This means we can be far more creative in our delivery – be it through format or the strategy we adopt. The great strength you see in New Zealand or Australia is that we can do new and exciting things all the time. It’s a hotbed for testing new approaches, and that’s never been more evident that with some of the Enterprise API work that The Trade Desk has been doing with its key clients. 

Are there any examples of Enterprise API work The Trade Desk is currently undertaking in New Zealand?
You may already be aware of the work we have done with pharmaceutical company Menarini Group – working in collaboration with OMD NZ – which used an innovative media strategy for the launch of hayfever treatment Labixten. This correlated real-time pollen forecast data via MetService Pollen Data API to inform Kiwis when the pollen count was moderate or high in their area – and targeted Kiwi sufferers in those high-pollen areas.

It’s really exciting that we are able to adopt these strategies right here in New Zealand and roll them out to the rest of the world.

Your predecessor, Mitch Waters, previously spoke to M+AD about the New Zealand market being fertile with respect to its size, agility and capability to innovate. How important is it for TTD globally that you have a market willing to try things and pave the way for other parts of the world?
The New Zealand market has a history of innovation and creative thinking, and it’s allowed to do so because of the size and agility of the market to adapt to new opportunities when they present themselves.

With technology, you go through a process of doing beta tests that then get rolled out into mass-scale delivery. If you think of it that way, New Zealand and Australia has this great opportunity where it can see something working in a market that mirrors Europe – in terms of device usage, data robustness and inventory, and the behaviours of users – which can be replicated elsewhere. That’s tremendously powerful and useful to the likes of the US and Europe because these learnings offer commercial scalability.

How do you predict the New Zealand market may change?
It’s early days – I think we’ve just scratched the surface. We’re still to see more media channels connected to programmatic – the likes of audio and out-of-home digital. These channels are still to be adopted and scaled by suppliers and providers in this area. Audio has been a great success and Connected TV has seen fantastic growth. The next area to boom will be out-of-home – that is a very exciting space.

It’s also worth mentioning the importance of how New Zealand leverages tapping into Australia or attracting large markets like China – where The Trade Desk will connect global brands to millions of Chinese users via partnering with the country’s leading media companies. This holds enormous potential and could present a great windfall for key sectors in New Zealand, such as tourism, education and agriculture.

What is your opinion on tech, engineering and programmatic talent here in New Zealand?
From all I’ve experienced, I think the talent in New Zealand punches way above its weight. That is stemming from the level of innovation we’re seeing come out of the marketplace, because we’ve seen such a great desire – as I mentioned earlier – to try different things on different channels. In terms of an appetite for innovation, New Zealand is second to none. I think the next frontier for New Zealand is how we create a marketplace where the talent can be nurtured further, because this area of advertising has the potential to grow at a phenomenal rate.

Thank you.

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