Sheb Alahmari, VP of Media at MDG

Ask The Experts: Buyers

July 20, 2018

The way consumers are watching TV is changing as connected TV devices gain popularity. A recent survey found that nearly three in four U.S. TV households have at least one internet-connected TV device. As consumers shift from linear TV to connected TV, advertisers with video ad budgets need to be watching closely. We caught up with Sheb Alahmari, VP of Media at MDG to learn why he’s excited about advertising in the CTV environment and how programmatic plays a role in MDG’s video buying strategy.

How does video factor into your buying strategy?

We’re ‘TV anywhere’ media buyers so while we manage display retargeting for some of our clients, our main focus is definitely 15/30/60 second video ads for FEP (full episode player) content. Our clients have goals that range from top of the funnel brand awareness to ROI focused marketing. They find success in all areas of advertising across streaming video content platforms.

What excites you about connected TV advertising?

Coming from a traditional linear TV advertising background… everything! CTV and OTT provide so much more insight into viewership behaviors and trends. Not only from the depth and accuracy data provides, but the programmatic CTV buying process allows us to optimize in real time. The ads are dynamic so we’re able to validate a target audience, serve them ads specific to their attributes, and use technology to cut waste. Another huge opportunity in streaming media is that we can collect data from CTV households and use it to retarget by display or other means of remarketing. That ability to link efforts from other digital means of advertising to the consumer data gained from CTV is why I think we see more and more budget shift from linear to CTV. The marketing dollars are truly spent where our brand clients want to reach their specific audience. Nothing is extrapolated in terms of measurement.

Where does programmatic fit into your buying strategy?

Optimization is key for us. There are still a lot of holes in how linear TV buys are transacted and measured, but with the rapid growth of both content and distribution we’re now able to scale campaigns across CTV providers and ensure our clients that every impression was served to a household, device, or individual they’re looking to target. The programmatic aspect allows us to find audiences across a multitude of publishers and we can use our trusted data partners to match and validate the audience segments. The human element which oversees programmatic is still essential, but the tech provides us with the ability to make changes based on success. Programmatic buying streamlines optimization in terms of finding the right eyeballs at the lowest cost. In linear buying you can scale a campaign and miss the mark without knowing it until it’s too late.

What is your team’s unique value to the brands you work with?

Tradr, our proprietary media buying platform, is agnostic in our approach. We access the entire CTV universe so that when targeting a unique audience we can provide scale. We also use the most trusted and accurate data sources when segmenting a target audience. More important than the data itself, we take pride in the years of successful TV buying we apply to every aspect of our marketing, especially CTV since it’s such a new space and often coined as “the Wild West” of video advertising. If you’re not keeping your brand’s integrity and long term goals at the top of the priority list, there’s just too much than can go wrong.

We’re very hands on throughout the process, cross checking our impression delivery daily against our client’s frequency and content restrictions. We also have deep relationships with our publishers and that’s something our clients find comfort in. We’re working with seven figure CTV budgets and we understand newer clients to the space can be apprehensive in running ads across digital platforms. A lot of CTV publishers are still the unknown for more traditional marketers. It’s not like there’s a schedule to layout upfront when you’re targeting such specific audience attributes. Our process is very transparent and extremely detailed in terms of educating our clients. We’re not spending a dollar of their budget until they’re 100% confident in how the CTV campaign works and with what to expect. We’re more partners than vendors to most of our clients and I love that about our company’s approach.

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