Q&A with TMB’s New VP of Programmatic and Data Product Operations, Scott Mulqueen

In June, Trusted Media Brands (TMB), which publishes titles such as Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home, and The Family Handyman, brought on industry veteran Scott Mulqueen to assume the role of VP, programmatic and data product operations. The move comes as data is increasingly used to drive intelligent programmatic ad targeting products and is the key selling point for these products.

Combining the roles of data management and programmatic advertising will, Mulqueen notes, allow the company to far better support its advertising efforts across all of its platforms. Mulqueen brings a strong background in programmatic and data monetization: He most recently he served as VP, programmatic and audience monetization for About Inc., where he managed the team that oversaw the programmatic business including sales, forecast, revenue, and general operations.

In this Q&A, Mulqueen shares some of his goals for TMB’s programmatic business and how he expects data to influence the path forward.

Your title is VP, programmatic and data product operations. What is the significance of having “data” and “programmatic” in a combined role?

Programmatic refers to the piping, or the means in which the media transaction is being passed through and managed. After many years of maturation and evolution, those pipes now have the capacity to (near) seamlessly support targeting efforts for a variety of purposes including data matching, optimizations, and analytics. As a result, there is a significant need now for those who were once “programmatic experts” to also maintain similar expertise with data. Ultimately, this allows for those on both sides of the transaction to speak the same language regarding platforms used, tactics, etc.

As you settle into your new role, what are some specific short-term goals you hope to accomplish?

One of the team’s immediate focuses is to begin constructing sellable products that most appropriately showcase our assets (content, ad supply, data). These would, in turn, become tools for our sales and marketing teams to bring to market to support client requests, win business, and receive feedback. Our goal is to grow awareness, product satisfaction, and ultimately revenue for the organization

Looking further out, what do you see as TMB’s priorities when it comes to programmatic advertising?

We anticipate utilizing our [owned and operated] assets with our trusted technology providers to construct viable, commercial products that will complement our current suite of solutions. Building out a functional and fluid data infrastructure to allow for advertisers to easily access our media with frictionless targeting is of the utmost priority.

What are the biggest challenges you face in growing programmatic revenue?

Publishers winning advertiser investment is not a simple feat anymore. The days of a light RFP process and then quick decision regarding ad dollar investment is essentially over. Every penny from an advertiser is being scrutinized for performance and ROI. The best performing media/data partners will ultimately win the lion’s share of the business. As a result of such a competitive environment, we need to be on top of our game as it relates to platform mechanics, site speed, quality of information, and expertise in order to flawlessly execute and contribute to the end goals of the advertiser. In order to do this, we need strong human capital to support from an expertise standpoint and best-in-class technology partners which we can explicitly trust

What is TMB doing to limit ad fraud?

TMB has posted an ads.txt file that identifies only trusted partners that can service its owned and operated media. We are also reviewing additional third-party technology providers, which may be able to provide an additive layer of protection/review across our network

Data privacy and security have become mainstream public concerns. How will that factor into your data strategy?

We consider ourselves to be a truly “brand safe” environment. For us, that concept goes beyond our content and beyond how we position our titles to advertisers. In fact, “brand safety” actually starts with our readers and fans and making sure that not only is our content safe for readers of all ages, but that their data meets all privacy and security standards. We will continue to observe what’s happening in the industry and what our readers are telling us about their concerns. Those will factor heavily into our evolving data strategy.

What industry trends or opportunities get you most excited right now?

The continuously strengthening value of current, effective data is exceptionally interesting. As the industry begins to think about alternatives to targeting a cookie, the absolute value of a media provider’s information and knowledge about users traversing their ecosystem becomes that much more powerful and useful.

Toni McQuilken is the senior editor for the printing and packaging group.