In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the APAC advertising industry, on all matters digital.
Oliver Rapson is the current CEO of iProspect Australia. With over two decades of career experience in the industry, Oliver shares his unique professional journey and his opinions on all the challenges faced by digital marketers and advertisers today.
IAS: Tell us about your professional journey, Oliver.
Oliver: It all started with me joining a small start-up in the UK some 22 years ago. Memorisethis was a pureplay gift superstore, which sold all kinds of things from balloon rides to stainless steel cupid arrows. My initial role was in affiliates where I would literally have to rope in a bunch of website owners to allow us to serve out Mrecs or the like. It was very early days and there were no such things as tags or the like. After the bubble, I moved agency side working in London for Unique Digital on clients like Barclays and Mark Warner, and eventually landed at Steak leading John Lewis – which was at the time the biggest online retailer in the UK. Steak was a performance agency which then was acquired by dentsu before the Aegis merger. Fast forward 10 years and I’m now CEO of iProspect Australia, a dentsu company and global digital-first end to end media agency. We define the new territory of performance-driven brand building.
IAS: With brands moving away from keywords and cookies to contextual targeting, how is iProspect approaching this shift?
Oliver: Our fundamental approach has always been centred on the customer and as the industry shifts towards a privacy-first approach, customer-centricity becomes even more important. At its core, our mission remains unchanged in many ways. We have seen disruption this year with the iOS privacy changes, which gives us a glimpse of what is likely to come with the eventual removal of cookies, and our teams have been working with clients to shift their audience targeting across the impacted channels.
In terms of day-to-day, the likes of campaign retargeting, measurement, sequential messaging and frequency capping that rely on third-party cookies within the Chrome browser will still be available for use until mid-2023. However, does this mean we should solely rely upon third-party cookie solutions right up to the line? Probably not. It does offer an opportunity to rebuild trust between brands and consumers and we are proactively working with our clients to understand their customer data strategies and technology to navigate the longer-term challenges ahead.
IAS: iProspect is known for driving performance-driven brand building, can you tell us more about it, especially in the context of the post-pandemic world?
Oliver: Never before have brands needed to really understand and invest their media dollars than now. Performance driven brand building is just adding a lens that ensures that whatever you want to achieve there is a hard KPI that will result in your business improving its bottom line. It’s been done for years in the digital space, now that we can truly capture holistic data we can activate through the line.
IAS: What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Oliver: I just think there is a huge lack of digital talent in Australia, it’s been over two decades and I am yet to see Universities really hone in on the digital elements of advertising and marketing. This basically creates a hole in the market and it means businesses have to over index in the training aspect. It’s something we need to solve fast if we are serious at being best in class.
IAS: Any advice on how businesses can plan their talent-hiring/ retention strategy better in the coming months?
Oliver: It’s all about being human, particularly now where there is so much screen time and little human touch. Actually talking to people, about other stuff than work means a lot. Obviously, you want to ensure rem, career planning, training ops, etc is well delivered and competitive, but I think the real game changer is good people managers. People who see beyond just the “framework” of business but give it meaning.
IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?
Oliver: Strangely enough, because I can’t commute anymore due to lockdowns my podcast hours have substantially reduced! But, when I was in the car for a big chunk of my day I would listen to Freakonomics radio – it’s fun, informative and lets you get away from the day to day.
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
Oliver: Be passionate and give it everything. Never settle for a half-cooked effort. As a leader of people, I love seeing those who are go-getters push themselves. It’s a refreshing trait that fills me with excitement, sadly though it isn’t as common as I would like. The message is do it all, and give it your best shot.