Ross Cohen has been tapped by Viacom as its first SVP of Digital Inventory Strategy, as the company that owns MTV Networks looks for better ways to manage advertisers' and agencies' growing demand for audience buying.
Cohen, a former VP and business development exec at Worldnow, will report to Rich Eigendorff, Chief Operating Officer for Viacom Media Networks. VMN includes MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, Nickelodeon, COMEDY CENTRAL, SPIKE and TV Land.
Among his initial tasks will be working in Viacom's rollout of its first private exchange.
AdExchanger: Can you tell us about your previous experience with WorldNow?
RC: It’s an advertising technology solutions company. They offer a content management system to over 500 local media companies, primarily local TV stations and covering a collective 50 million unique users a month. I was charged with overseeing yield management and revenue operations. I was there for roughly four-and-a-half years. Since I was managing all the ad tech partner relationships, I was an early adopter of the supply side platform model in 2007, which involved us in the early trials of real-time bidding as well.
How did you decide on taking this job at Viacom? How do you perceive the opportunities and challenges from the perspective of this new post?
Well, simply put, it’s “Viacom.” It’s an opportunity to join an industry leader. They have rich content across all screens and incredibly valuable data, particularly first party data. That’s very attractive to me, especially considering the nature of where the media business is going. Viacom has the resources to continue to explore what’s coming next. They’ve invested heavily in their data management platform the last couple of years. So my role is to come in and see how best to leverage that.
What are you specifically charged with doing? What is your initial mission?
My mission is to manage our strategy and advertising offerings for Viacom’s DMP, which we call our Audience Manager. How can we utilize database audience targeting capabilities [and] platforms to make really compelling opportunities for select advertising partners across TV, online video, premium display, mobile and email? How do we create rich packages for advertisers using first- and third party data?
What is Viacom's current approach to programmatic buying is and how do you plan to update it?
We have the first party data in-house that looks at how consumers interact with our content. With regard to third party, we have between eight and 12 different data partners. And we’re going to look at how best to manage those combinations.
As someone who has worked in RTB for a while, how do you perceive the value of private exchanges? Is it a necessary thing for publishers? Or is it just a matter of how you manage inventory in the general exchange marketplace?
We do think there is value in a private exchange and that’s something we’re rolling out in the very near future. Audience buying’s become increasingly important for both performance and brand advertisers. The one thing I do want to highlight is the value of premium content adjacency and integration is as strong as ever.
Viacom has very rich content and it's very desirable for advertisers to be associated with that. It’s Viacom’s core value proposition. From an audience perspective, being able to take that one step further and offer a unique exchange environment for our partners is crucial. Programmatic buying is here and is something that Viacom is embracing. It provides operational efficiency for both data- and content-driven campaigns and we’ excited about the new opportunities to do more of that for our partners.
By David Kaplan