SalesTech Star Interview with Jerome Underhill, SVP EMEA, APAC & LATAM at Xandr
Tell us about your role and your journey into the digital Ad Sales industry?
My first foray into the Digital Ad space came after nine years in consumer finance with Capital One, for who I built businesses in the UK, across Europe and in South Africa, where I lived for three years.
The move into digital came from a desire to apply the data driven decisioning skills I’d developed in a new space and looking for a high growth sector to test the belief that these were transferable.
This led me to Advertising.com and its journey to AOL Advertising, where I became the EMEA COO (and where I met my now wife). Next up, a start-up that caused me to commute to Brazil, Romania and Turkey, then onwards to AppNexus and the amazing ride that has brought me to Xandr, and the incredible opportunity we have in front of us.
More than 12 years later, the digital ad space, and all it’s expanded to represent, still feels like a high growth sector full of possibility, and Xandr feels like the right place to tap into those possibilities and lead the further development of the industry. In my current role, I oversee commercial teams for Europe, Asia and Latin America, ensuring a strong link between these regions and our headquarters in New York City, helping to support the empowerment and growth of Xandr’s regional go-to-market teams, as well as collaboration between International markets.
What team and technology do you work with Xandr?
With my roots in AppNexus technology, I am responsible for overseeing our entire suite of Xandr platform products from a commercial perspective across our international markets. This includes our strategic buying and selling platforms, Xandr Invest and Xandr Monetize, as well as the features available to advertisers and publishers through each one.
In addition to my focus on our technology, I am heavily involved in growing our commercial teams. This includes growing our headcount substantially, as well as our partnerships with blue-chip clients such as Axel Springer, Nine Entertainment and LinkedIn.
When AT&T acquired AppNexus in June 2018, it instantly gained access to one of the world’s largest marketplaces. Maintaining and building on our global presence and capabilities remains a core priority for Xandr, and something I am personally committed to.
What is Xandr Monetize and what is the technology driving the platform. Which industries are you currently targeting?
Xandr Monetize is our recently introduced strategic selling platform. Built on the powerful foundation of AppNexus technology, Xandr Monetize enables media companies to unlock the full value of their premium content and improve the advertising experience for consumers.
As content consumption and viewer attention increasingly fragment, Xandr Monetize gives publishers and media owners full control to navigate the consumer journey and client relationships. The platform offers content owners improved monetization, through better inventory management capabilities, data-driven yield optimization, and differentiated buyer demand. With these powerful tools, Xandr Monetize expands the ways in which publishers can package, sell, and measure the performance of their inventory across all screens and devices.
Tell us about your key takeaways from DMEXCO. Tell us more about this (technology/ offering
Personally, I’m most proud of our effective first official appearance as Xandr at DMEXCO this year. Just one year following the launch of our brand, we’ve not only successfully launched products that are core to our business, but we’ve proven that our commitment to remaining a partner of the open internet has only become more prominent with the backing and resources provided by AT&T.
The meetings and speakerships we were able to participate in at DMEXCO were an amazing demonstration of this.
From an industry standpoint, my biggest takeaway is the opportunity we have with premium video and new and emerging formats in EMEA. CTV, for example, has had a slow start in Europe compared with other markets but is gaining momentum. Some US companies like Pluto TV and FuboTV have launched their streaming services in EMEA, and we’re seeing collaboration within broadcasters across the region to make the buying and selling of advertising more seamless across formats.
Post-GDPR, how much have AdTech marketplaces evolved to deliver better media inventory to customers?
It’s still early to come to a conclusion regarding the effect of GDPR on transaction methods. For some time now, both ourselves and our clients have invested a lot of resources to ensure that we meet the requirements of GDPR. There’s an ongoing discussion on multiple levels – across the wider industry, on a market level, among regulators and increasingly also in the public about what is the correct approach to ensure user privacy but at the same time fund quality content on the internet.
What are the major challenges that adtech users are facing? How have the brand safety and anti-malvertising benchmarks evolved in the last 12-18 months?
Digital players are accelerating their path to linear TV, but have struggled with brand safety issues and competing with the ‘premium-ness’ of traditional TV players. In an effort to provide enhanced transparency and choice to consumers and greater control to publishers, IAB Europe, in partnership with IAB Tech Lab, have been working on the creation of TCF v2.0, released last month.
The newest version allows publishers to customize which vendors they work with, and how such vendors can use and share personal data. It’s also more user-friendly, granular and flexible to publishers in how they wish to message purposes to their users.
From a consumer perspective, they now have more control over whether and how vendors may use certain features of data processing. Each of these updates work to overcome the challenges ad tech users are facing and signal the steps industry leaders are taking to enhance brand safety in the advertising ecosystem.
Finally, what do you think about Blockchain and AI-Programmatic technologies further disrupting AdTech ecosystem that you are playing in?
Evolving technologies like blockchain and Artificial Intelligence are leading to an emergence of disruptive business models that are heavily reliant on technology. To stay competitive, companies are bringing technology and engineering stakeholders to the table as well as product, go-to-market, and talent engagement teams to form cohesive cross-functional strategies.
As new formats and technologies emerge, it’s impossible to predict exactly how the ad tech ecosystem will evolve, but we plan to stay ahead of the curve with expertise in advanced TV advertising, high-fidelity audience segments, and a trusted platform infrastructure.
Thank You, Jerome , for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
Xandr is AT&T’s advertising company and a leader in addressable TV, creating a better solution for advertisers and media companies. Xandr Invest and Xandr Monetize, our strategic platforms built on more than a decade of AppNexus’ innovation, optimize media spend across screens for buyers and sellers alike. Community, powered by Xandr, is a curated marketplace of premium publishers, providing access to unique consumer insights in a brand-safe environment.
As SVP, Europe, Asia and Latin America, Jerome Underhill oversees the growth and investment in Xandr’s international business, ensuring a strong link between our commercial strategy in global markets and our headquarters in New York City.
Jerome joined AppNexus in 2013, leading the Services group and operations in EMEA. Previously, Jerome held leadership positions across the United Kingdom, Europe, and South Africa, including at Advertising.com before moving via acquisition to AOL, and at Capital One.