Q&A: Ad Management Consultant Marlene Vicaire on Digital Transformation

6 min readSep 4, 2018

If managing ad operations in publishing and media companies is quite an endeavour, so is implementing new software solutions where people in sales, planning and accounting can be aligned. It’s not just about the application, but the way people approach it and manage change. That’s where the role of management consultants is key to closing the gap in any software implementation process.

How is digital transformation shaping? One of our consulting partners addresses this issue.

Marlene Vicaire’s Experience in Advertising Management

Marlene Vicaire is quite an interesting entrepreneur. She’s an award-winning strategist with over 14 years of experience across creative, media and technology organisations. It is no wonder that she has worked with the likes of Fairfax, AppNexus, Rubicon Project, eBay Advertising, Nine, Doubleclick for Publishers and was awarded the Mumbrella MSIX Award ‘Best Use of Neuroscience’ .

According to Hong Kong’s French Chamber of Commerce, she has “an exceptional ability to translate her digital marketing knowledge and consult on broader digital business strategy to achieve better organisational outcomes.”

The founder of T-Shape Consulting, a strategic consultancy firm specialised in driving media performance for publishers and brands in the APAC region, is working with ADvendio’s ad sales management footprint in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and China, to assist teams in the implementation and onboarding of order management software.

With the digital transformation of the publishing, broadcasting, advertising, and media industry, what do you think is the scope of the advertising management process today? How has it changed?

Advertising management is a complex process. For publishers who have come from a print background, it’s still a challenge to align their direct and programmatic operations. As a result, I feel the scope has increased in complexity. Having said that, working with the right technology partners has proven to revolve a lot of the intricacies of managing sales and operations efficiently.

Have advertising-creative-agency relationships changed with digital transformation?

Absolutely! After a decade scoring for leading creative and advertising agencies, I have realised the disconnect some brands experience in their communications strategies. The main reason is that agencies are usually briefed separately and don’t come up together with the idea and the media plan. The result is often disjointed which means the brand is unlikely to engage successfully with their target audience.

How do you help media companies “connect the dots” between their goals and the technologies they use for ad sales, billing or inventory management?

We look at the business outcome first, and the technology second. What does this mean?

  • We first get to understand the business by conducting a needs analysis, then we come up with recommendations and a scope of work.
  • Often this translates into reviewing existing processes, partnerships, technologies and conducting in-depth interviews with the different stakeholders involved in the project.
  • More importantly, we make sure to transfer our knowledge and build internal capabilities within our client’s team.

What do you consider are “the missing links” between an ad management software and a consultancy service?

In the past, ad operations have not been looked at as a revenue-generating department, but more as a cost centre. The truth is, operations are actually at the core of any advertising business and therefore it should be looked out at from a strategic level. As a consultancy, our aim is to ensure the choice of technology is closely aligned with the overall business objectives. We translate the business imperative into technical requirements, leading to sustainable growth.

Operations are at the core of any advertising business and it should be looked out from a strategic level — Marlene Vicaire

Is that relationship critical to choosing one order management software versus another one, for instance?

You can have the best-in-class technologies onboard and still not using them successfully to make a difference in your business. Working with a consultant can help identify and address potential roadblocks, either internally by educating and supporting the teams, or externally by identifying threats and opportunities.

In your experience, what factors are critical for a successful ad operations implementation process?

As for any investment, media owners should have a roadmap and define measurable outcomes from the technologies they implement. Those KPIs can be measured in terms of time efficiencies, improved processes, additional revenue, financial accuracy, increased precision in reporting, etc.

Within the media and advertisers, who are the key players in the transformation of advertising operations within these organizations? What is needed from them in an implementation process?

It really depends on the company’s size. Large publishers have specific teams that are responsible for driving the digitalisation of their operations, whereas with small to medium publishers, we usually speak directly to the COO or CTO and we train up their team ourselves. For advertisers, we would work with their CDO or CMO, depending on who’s looking after the media side.

The most important steps for a successful implementation is:

  • To have a clear understanding of the key stakeholders internally, ideally one “project owner.”
  • To define measurable goals in terms of ROI.
  • Being transparent with the team and listening to their challenges in terms of process.

At the end of the day, our objective is to transfer knowledge and build internal capabilities within their team.

Advertising Sales Management in Asia Pacific

You work all around the Asia Pacific Region. Are there any specific features in the APAC media industry that make it different from other regions?

I guess the most obvious difference is that it is not one continent or culture. The APAC region is inherently composed of radically different markets with their own culture, language, and dynamics… As a result, there are various differences in terms of how we adapt to their needs. Having worked in Australia for 10 years before relocating to Hong Kong, I can say there is a huge gap in terms of market education, speed to market, etc.
On the other hand, Singapore and Japan are quite advanced. In summary, there is no “one size fits all”, and as consultants, our job is to support our clients regardless of where they are in their journey towards digitalisation.

There have been very recent developments that affect the industry in Europe and the US, such as new standards and privacy regulations. How is APAC affected by these?

We haven’t seen a lot of changes in the Asia-Pacific region for now. Having said that, publishers who have a huge audience from the US or Europe have taken the right steps to be compliant with GDPR. As for the ones who are not relying on this audience, they have simply blocked this source of traffic as it doesn’t impact their business.
In the long term, there will certainly be a need to align across the board, but each country has its own legal system when it comes to privacy policies, so it might be a more complex process in this region.

The End of Doubleclick Sales Manager: Changing the Culture in Media

Google DSM ends in 2019, and many media companies are looking for replacements for their order management systems. The work of management consultants in the process is key, as it’s not just implementing a new software but moving an entire organization from one system into another one against the clock. We asked T-Shape founder about this issue.

What steps are critical to the change and implementation process?

The most important element of change is to change the culture. It’s a new way of working for everyone! Sales, operations, finance, data… Being here to support the teams through change, helping them improve processes, assist them to have a clear roadmap and define the responsibilities and deliverables with third-party solutions are core steps to deliver a successful implementation.

Originally published at www.advendio.com on September 4, 2018.




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