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Q&A: Babs Kehinde, Senior Director, Commerce Media – EMEA at PubMatic

PubMatic was founded in 2006 with the vision to empower the world’s leading digital content creators by giving them greater control over their inventory, as well… View Article


Q&A: Babs Kehinde, Senior Director, Commerce Media – EMEA at PubMatic

PubMatic was founded in 2006 with the vision to empower the world’s leading digital content creators by giving them greater control over their inventory, as well as increasing monetisation.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

My media career started more than two decades ago when I worked at The Daily Telegraph when digital was truly in its infancy. I also spent eight years at Yahoo helping to evangelise and grow the digital advertising industry and three years at leading media agency Essence (now EssenceMediacom). My expertise lies in fostering the growth of pioneering businesses and spearheading technological innovations that transform the online advertising landscape. I joined PubMatic in 2019 to help publishers navigate the ever-changing digital advertising ecosystem and maximise revenue through technology and partnerships. Furthermore, I spearheaded the expansion of our commerce media business throughout the EMEA region.

What does your company do?

PubMatic was founded in 2006 with the vision to empower the world’s leading digital content creators by giving them greater control over their inventory, as well as increasing monetisation.

As the digital landscape has evolved, we have expanded our offerings to include a growing number of sectors, including commerce media. To help us understand how we can help foster growth in retail media, we have partnered with numerous retailers to identify the challenges that exist across the ecosystem that can be solved through technology. Broadly speaking, these fall into three categories:

Firstly, there’s a need to meet retailers’ aspirations for broader marketplace demand. To be successful in retail media, retailers need access to a wide range of advertisers to maximize the value of their inventory. PubMatic’s open cloud infrastructure facilitates seamless connectivity with a vast network of advertisers, enabling retailers maximise demand through a single partnership.

Next comes advertisers’ pursuit of efficient targeting needed to maximise the effectiveness of their retail media campaigns. By leveraging the rich audience data that retailers possess combined with PubMatic’s proprietary data solutions, advertisers can refine their targeting strategies, leading to more relevant ads and improved campaign outcomes, spanning across both the retailers’ sites and the broader open internet landscape.

Finally, there’s a pressing need to address fragmentation in the commerce media landscape which poses a significant challenge for retailers and brands. PubMatic’s unified platform streamlines the campaign management process, eliminating the need for multiple systems and simplifying campaign execution.

By addressing these challenges, PubMatic is well placed to support a more efficient commerce media ecosystem, enabling retailers and advertisers to achieve their respective goals.

What’s special about the platform and your approach?

Commerce media is one of the biggest digital advertising opportunities that has emerged in recent years. By 2028 it is predicted that ad revenue in commerce media will eclipse TV. For retailers and brands capitalising on this opportunity requires staying ahead of the curve and embracing technology that addresses the specific challenges of this new ecosystem while maintaining an omnichannel outlook. Our tools allow retailers to do just that, ensuring that they can maximise performance across all revenue streams from one unified platform.

Another way that PubMatic helps advertisers is through our various data partnerships. With a pressing need for alternative ways to target consumers when the third-party cookie is phased out, advertisers are increasingly looking to technology platforms to help them tap into the rich consumer data that retailers have. As sell-side competition increases with more retailers offering commerce media solutions, the landscape will become more fractured making it harder for advertisers to navigate without the help of a technology platform that unifies supply. This is an area where PubMatic can really help both the supply- and demand-side to maximise the value and promise that commerce media holds.

Unsurprisingly, given the popularity of commerce media, many retailers are now looking to expand their ad offering beyond sites that they own and operate on the open web. Through our solutions, we help retailers do this, allowing them to navigate the complex ad landscape and drive revenue. We even enable retailers to sell ads across several channels, so they can more effectively monetise their data.

Our Convert solution is designed especially for commerce media and enables streamlined monetisation and simple automated trading in one place. Retailers can quickly build bespoke audience segments across their on-site and off-site assets, while buyers can create and purchase custom selections of cross-network ad space.

This interconnectedness is a unique proposition for retailers, and by being able to do this all from one platform, brands can really drive value.

What advantages does it add and how are retailers using the platform to gain a competitive edge?

Our solution gives retailers the tools needed to optimise their commerce media offering, whether they are new to the space or have a more established offering.

For those new to the commerce media space and looking to monetise their media properties for the first time, our self-serve platform Convert is easy to set up and gives retailers complete control over their ad inventory without needing specialist technical skills. It also enables retailers to increase scale and reach quickly through our extensive demand partners meaning no additional sales or technical integrations are required to ramp up commerce media activity. We also help retailers starting out in commerce media to enhance their inventory using their first-party data in a way that optimises their appeal for advertisers and powers higher yield.

For those already running a commerce media network, this same first-party data-driven approach to inventory optimisation can drive incremental yield by better meeting the needs of the demand-side. Our smart reporting features mean retailers can harness performance data including engagement and sales to provide holistic closed-loop measurement for advertisers.

Ultimately it comes down to the product’s ability to enhance targeting for advertisers using a retailer’s first-party data in a privacy secure fashion. Commerce data adds greater value because a consumer’s actual buying habits speak volumes about what truly matters to them. With access to shopper data, it’s possible to see what consumers are interested in based on their real purchase motivations. For the retailer, the capacity to support this kind of targeting is a huge advantage.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2024?

The outlook for commerce media is bright, with increasing awareness of its potential to tackle ad targeting issues — including fading cookies — and power mutual gains. Research by ExchangeWire and PubMatic shows 91% of European retailers will sustain or bolster investment in 2024, while 80% want to develop their networks using third-party technology.

These tech partnerships will play a crucial part in maintaining momentum by helping smaller retailers stand on level footing with larger players. But they are also closely tied to the two biggest sell-side challenges: complexity and inertia.

Choosing which tool to adopt is always challenging, but it’s especially difficult as variable economic conditions intensify budget pressure. Many companies assume opting for known solutions is the safest route to minimise risk, but some of these solutions have not been built for commerce media specifically and lack the capabilities required to deliver success. Another pitfall is when advertisers choose an array of solutions that can be confusing for retailers to navigate.

Consequently, retailers must hone their market understanding and seek vendors with the experience to formulate strategies that work for their business. It is important to look for partners that not only have a robust technology solution but are also able to function in a consultative capacity to assist in overcoming inertia and challenges extracting and using their data.

How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?

Alongside defining a common language and trading currency, we believe the industry must move towards technology unification. That is exactly what Convert is built to do. Instead of switching between one tool for audience segmentation, another for extension, and a host of other vendors handling multiple types of ads, everything can be managed under one roof.

What’s more, with complete visibility of real-time revenues, retailers and advertisers can quickly see which channels, formats, and segments are fuelling the best results and adapt strategies accordingly — advertising partners also benefit from the ability to access diverse inventory from a single platform.

Any final thoughts?

The ultimate power of commerce media is securely tapping customer data to democratise audience access, but there is no blanket ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for success. Depending on their position, some retailers may prefer to start small by only monetising inventory on their own sites, instead of enabling advertising across every channel. The right tech will give them the ability to do so, as well as the potential to expand ad operations when they’re ready.

To find out how PubMatic can help your retail operation, click here.

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