Team

Presenting…the new coull.com

Presenting…the new coull.com

We’re excited to announce that our cool, new website is now live – see the homepage here.

There’s a few things you should check out:

Bristol proud

We’ve gone back to our roots and now proudly display our Bristol heritage, symbolised by a hot air balloon – one of the things that makes Bristol famous.

 

New colours

We’ve chosen some new vibrant colours to give us a fresh look that stands out. The blue is our key colour, matching our logo. If you’re a publisher, look out for the yellow – we’ve colour coded publisher content for you. Whereas, if you’re an advertiser or agency, pay extra attention to anything in red.

 

Product launch and new demonstration videos

Alongside the website, we also have new OverStream products to launch.

Expanding MPU

“Grabs attention and encourages action, with your audience in mind.”

Our Expanding MPU advertising format appears in the selected corner of the screen, shows the audience the creative and then minimises down into a small ‘ad expand icon’.

  • Shows the audience an advert inside the video player – where their attention is.
  • Adds interactivity to the advert.
  • Adds value to any video by creating a new advertising space.
  • Grabs attention but then minimises to respect the user experience.

OnPause

“An intelligent ad format, delivered when the audience takes a break.”

Our OnPause advertising format displays a creative when a video is paused.

  • A great way to reach audiences without interrupting their viewing experience.
  • Creates new advertising space inside the video player.
  • A simple, viewable way to tell a brand’s story.

Make sure to check out the video demonstration of these on the Product page.

Also, remember that any of our OverStream formats can be paired up with pre-roll, a package we call DoubleUp.

  • Complete video advertising experiences for customers and brands.
  • A simple way to immediately measure video campaign success.
  • One harmonised advertising experience.

See the DoubleUp demo on our Product page.

 

Brand new blog

We also decided to jazz up our blog, adding more photos and a pinch of colour to the page. Why not read up on what we’ve been getting up to recently? Such as our Deloitte Tech Fast 50 award, what we got up to at The Drum’s ‘Do it Day’ or find out the best recipe for those festive campaigns.

Keep checking in

That’s it for now – but this is only the start of new and exciting things happening at Coull. Don’t forget to keep checking in for more resources, product launches and Coull news.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for updates.

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
Coull: A top ranking technology company

Coull: A top ranking technology company

Yesterday, technology business directors from all over the country gathered for The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards ceremony in London. Our very own Managing Director, Dan Ginns, and Finance Director, Simon Alpren, were amongst the guests.

We’re very proud to announce that Coull has been ranked 9th in the 2017 Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50, a ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in the UK. Companies such as Deliveroo and Move GB were also in the Top 10. Not only this, but we have been ranked number 1 in the media sector of the Tech Fast 50. Rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over the last four years and Coull has a 1,915% growth.

Dan Ginns, said: “We’re very pleased to be Top 10 of the Tech Fast 50, which denotes accelerated growth for Coull as we concurrently transition our business and announce new products and partnerships to market. We’ll be seeking to maintain such growth levels in the coming months and years. We’d love to be ranked number one in the Tech Fast 50 one year.”

The award ceremony at The London Hilton Bankside

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 is one of the UK’s foremost technology award programmes, celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship. Now, in its 20th successful year, it is a ranking of the country’s 50 fastest growing technology companies, driven by leading intellectual property and based on revenue growth over the last four years.

David Cobb, lead partner for the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50, said: “The Deloitte UK
Technology Fast 50 gives great profile to technology companies and is internationally recognised as being one of the most important business awards in the sector. This year’s ranking highlights the importance of being innovative, recruiting high-skilled talent and finding a niche product or service.”

Making the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 is a significant accomplishment for all of the team and we’re all looking forward to see what 2018 holds for Coull.

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
We did it! Coull at Do It Day

We did it! Coull at Do It Day

The Drum’s ‘Do It Day’ is all about using marketing to destigmatise mental health. Many people from agencies, technology companies and publishers gathered their creative ideas to produce six different advertising campaigns for six different charities. Amongst those people were Coull’s Product Manager Ben Sonnex and Coull’s Marketing Executive, Naomi Sandercock.

Naomi and her group were working with the YoungMinds charity, a charity that aims to help raise awareness of mental health among young children. Their campaign ‘Take20’ encourages parents to take 20 minutes a week to do an activity with their children. This time can be used to talk to their child about how they’re feeling, whilst doing something that they both enjoy. Whatever the activity, having regular conversations about difficult topics in a relaxed space can help parents to provide reassurance and support from a young age.

They launched the campaign by taking their own advice and taking 20 minutes to have a football game in Regent’s Park and inviting members of the public to do the same and ‘take20’. The campaign has caught the attention of the media and has already been covered by Huffington PostThe Metro and The Sunday Mirror (being printed this week).

Naomi said: “It’s been such a great experience, our group and everyone from Youngminds have worked together so well and now we have something really amazing to show for it. It feels really good to give my time and skills for such a great cause, I really hope this campaign lives on and spreads the important message: it’s time to make time.”

The Mix was the charity that Ben and his group created a campaign for. The Mix aim to provide mental health support for under 25s. A study by The Mix found that three in four under 25s believe they are misrepresented in the news media Based on this research, the campaign ‘In The Mix’, set out to disrupt the negative news agenda by creating a different 6 o’clock news bulletin, produced with young people, for young people.

YouTube stars, Niki and Sammy, presented the show and made appearances on Sky News on the lead up to the 6pm bulletin. Not only this, the team did a Kiss FM takeover for an hour on Launch Day and called in favours to secure advertising space on huge outdoor billboards in London. They promoted their first bulletin with a mysterious message: ‘Done with Fake News? Something Real is Coming…16/11/17 – 6pm’.

This campaign was voted the winning Do It Day campaign by the judges and will now provide a lasting legacy for The Mix with fortnightly ‘In The Mix’ shows.

Ben said: “I feel privileged to have contributed to the winning ‘In the Mix’ campaign and super proud to have been a part of The Drum’s Do it Day. What all the teams achieved in just over 5 weeks was quite incredible and experiencing first hand the challenges Coull’s agency partners tackle day-by-day was inspiring. I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to support an amazing charity and work with a very talented group of people, some of whom went above and beyond to make ‘In the Mix’ a success.”

You can read about all of the Do It Day campaigns here.

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
5 things Dmexco 2017 taught me

5 things Dmexco 2017 taught me

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Dmexco may not be in Mexico… but you will still have a great time.
Left to right: Elle (UniLad), Me – Naomi (Coull), Jordan (UniLad), Dan (Coull)
 

Dmexco, not ‘Dmexico’. It’s not actually related to the sunny beaches of Mexico at all, I found out earlier this year (to my dismay). Swap sand with the streets of Cologne. Replace palm trees with hundreds of exhibitors. Change up the sunshine for the unpredictable, autumnal weather of Cologne. Keep about the same levels of alcohol… and you have Dmexco.

Though, I quickly realised Dmexco (The Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference) would not disappoint. It’s one of the biggest digital marketing conferences in the world, it hosts over 40,000 visitors and more than 500 top speakers impart their knowledge. As a first timer to the conference, here are the 5 things I learnt from Dmexco 2017…

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Koelnmesse, the venue for Dmexco
  1. The digital advertising industry is much bigger than you think

It’s easy to forget the sheer size of the online marketing world until you step into Koelnmesse, the colossal trade fair hall. The halls are packed full to the brim with marketing experts and bright and bold booths trying to lure you in. Over 40,000 people attended the event this year…and that’s only a small percentage of the whole industry!

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VEVO presenting the talk ‘TV’s tipping point: The Convergence of Digital & TV

  1. Video, video…and more video

Phrases like “pivot to video” have been thrown around a lot in the past year. And let’s face it, people love visual content, it’s simple to consume, it’s creative and it’s exciting.

On the second day of Dmexco, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, was on a panel about ‘Video: Connecting People, Reshaping Marketing’. She said, “Most recently, what we’re seeing is the consumption of videos…78%-90% of mobile traffic will be driven by video. Every time we estimate video consumption on our platform, we underestimate it. What we’re seeing is really exciting opportunity for marketers to reach consumers in many different formats of video, in the form that they love, which is sight, sound and motion.”

  1. AI and VR are both pretty cool, but they still have a long way to go

The two buzzwords in the industry for this year…AI and VR. More and more technology is being developed to mirror human interactions. Artificial intelligence has taken the form of chatbots and voice search, so it’s like talking to human instead of a machine. Also, Virtual Reality has meant more immersive experiences, particularly through VR headsets. As exciting as these both are, they’re still seen as entertainment and it will be a while until they’re integrated into everyday life.

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The ‘Preparing for GDPR: Embracing the Inevitable Regulations’ debate

                       

  1. It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz, but don’t forget about the real issues

There’s a certain buzz you get when you’re at Dmexco because there’s so much going on: thousands of people networking, hundreds of exhibitors, new innovations to see, talks to hear…I could go on. It’s very easy to see how you could get caught up in the Dmexco whirlwind and forget about the serious stuff. But it’s important not to ignore the problems in the industry. The main themes this year were GDPR, ad blocking and brand safety.

Here are the key takeaways from the discussions I heard:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is being enforced in May 2018. It brings Europe under one privacy law. And although there are penalties, “it’s not all bad news”, said Acxiom’s European Privacy Officer, Dr. Sachiko Scheuing in the ‘Preparing for GDPR: Embracing the Inevitable Regulations’ debate at Dmexco. She said, “GDPR is a great success. Now we’re talking about the obsolescence of opt in. Opt in made the consumers accountable, so without improving any privacy, you’re doing nothing else but putting the responsibility to the wrong side. GDPR puts that in the right context and I really welcome that.”

  • Ad blocking should encourage businesses to be more creative to engage the consumer, not annoy them. Advertising works best when it gives users space, chooses the moment and excites the consumer.

  • P&G’s Marc Pritchard called for all companies to follow a set of standards including MRC accreditation and brand safety guarantees in the Dmexco keynote: ‘A Wake Up Call’. He said, ”2017 isn’t over yet but it’s sounded several wake up calls for the marketing world. The reality is, in 2017 the bloom came off the rose for digital media. The reason is, the substantial waste in what has become a murky, non transparent, even fraudulent, media supply chain. If we all raise the bar and transform ourselves, we can accelerate market growth that will lift all of us and will especially benefit consumers.”

  1. Not all freebies are created equal

The Dmexco experience isn’t complete until you get a weird freebie. If you really wanted to, you could walk away with a suitcase full of weird and wonderful freebies. Of course, you have the classic squishy stress balls and branded notepads and pens. However, I find the unconventional ones much more interesting.

Here’s some of the weird freebies I saw:

  • Bright orange flip flops

  • A high vis jacket

  • Many fidget spinners

  • Shower caps

  • Plasters

  • Mini shower speaker

  • Grow a plant (in a can)

  • Berocca, alka seltzer and tea bag selection

Tweet us your best and worst Dmexco freebie: @Coull

So, until next year Cologne…

Cologne cathedral

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
Coull prepare for the winter ahead…

Coull prepare for the winter ahead…

Coull escaped the office in early September for a team event, co-sponsored by Sphere Digital Recruitment. The day’s focus was not only about company updates but self reflection and team building (and of course, some drinks to help with that #FridayFeeling).

Sphere’s James Everett and Coull’s Managing Director, Dan Ginns led a discussion around the Tuckman theory. In brief, it’s a theory that helps identify development within teams. Although this theory is over 50 years old, it’s still just as relevant today.

There’s four main stages of growth: forming, storming, norming and performing.

The team were asked to plot themselves and their teams on the graph, however, there isn’t a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ answer. The Tuckman theory is used to help define different stages in business, so that the team can identify where they are and where they want to be.

Self reflection is crucial in all walks of life. It’s important to recognise both weaknesses and strengths. If we can only see weaknesses, this leads to little self belief and full potential can’t be reached. On the other hand, if all we can see is our strengths and triumphs, this can lead us to fall into our own traps.

The same goes for businesses and company culture. It’s very easy to notice only strengths or only weaknesses. Yes, there’s always room for improvement, but there’s also a time to celebrate.

At Coull, we know how significant it is to be self critical, especially if we want grow as a business. More importantly, we know how to celebrate achievements (and throw a good party!).

What did we learn?

  • Self reflection leads to success

  • Not everyone plotted themselves in the same place on the graph – this means we can support each other and work together as a team

  • Not to concentrate too much on KPIs (they only represents a small margin of people), instead we should think about brand uplift and awareness

  • Data insights are important to back up marketing and sales claims

What are our priorities?

  • Continuing to innovate in the video space

  • Always aiming to add value for publishers, advertisers and audiences

  • Case studies and data insights

  • Identifying industry trends and adapting our roadmap to fit

  • Creating a self serve model for our technology (SaaS)

Where is the industry going?

  • Video…and more video!

  • Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

  • A focus on better ads/ad formats and fighting against ad blocking

  • Anti fraud and brand safety are just as important

One achievement in particular, is how far we’ve come as a team – in this year alone.

Since May, we’ve had many key hires.

Meet the new Coull team members…

Dan – Managing Director

Azad – Programmatic Demand Sales Director

Alice – Demand Account Manager

Alex – Agency Sales Director

Toby –  Developer

Harry – Supply Account Manager

(and me) Naomi – Marketing Executive

And now, for the run up to Christmas, Coull are prepared for the winter ahead…                                                                                                                                    
Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
Coull are heading to Dmexco

Coull are heading to Dmexco

It’s less than a month until people from all over the globe gather in Cologne for the Dmexco conference.

It’s set to be a great place to network, share ideas and discuss the future of the advertising and digital world. Over 50,000 people and 1,000 exhibitors from the digital marketing industry will be there. Not only that, hundreds of speakers will be imparting their knowledge; the impressive line up include: P&G’s Marc Pritchard, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey and Chris Cox, the CPO at Facebook.

At Coull, we like to think ourselves as the video overlay ad specialists. We are a Bristol born technology company, with teams in the heart of Bristol, London and the US. Six members of our team will be there to meet new people, chat about Coull and discuss the future of video and advertising.

If you’re curious about what we do or would like to work with us, come and say hello or organise a meeting with us!

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
One idea, countless battles: Coull’s journey against fraud

One idea, countless battles: Coull’s journey against fraud

Born out of the vibrant streets of Bristol, Coull has always had creativity at the heart of the business. Coull’s founders had a vision of making online video advertising an engaging and interactive experience. The idea was brewing away in the background since 2005, but the online video world was still growing and adapting. High speed internet hadn’t appeared and many different video formats made things more complicated.

Skip forward a few years to 2007, YouTube had grown to over 50 million users and high speed internet had arrived. Families were able to watch a cat play a piano, a dog surfing and someone biting Charlie’s finger, from the comfort of their own homes. It was revolutionary and people couldn’t get enough. The popularity of video content shot up and the creators wanted a way to profit from it.

Cue Coull. 2008 was our founding year and although we’ve come a long way since then, it was always about our love affair with video.

Programmatic arrived like a whirlwind in 2013. By connecting everyone and allowing quicker, more efficient sales, it sounded like a dream. Caught up in the vortex of the programmatic online world, Coull started out with an ad network model. We were integrating with leading programmatic platforms to enable delivery of interest-based, targeted advertising at a global scale.

All of the innovations emerging from the humble office in Bristol were exciting, but there was one big problem with the online advertising industry: fraud. The colossal speed at which the digital world had developed meant that regulation of crime, particularly ad fraud, couldn’t keep up.

But Coull were prepared. We were producing our own in house anti-fraud technology in the background for some time, such as: domain and IP filters, URL detection and implementing the IAB’s VPAID specification.

As anticipated, the talk about fraud in the media increased and some shocking figures flagged up. Behind the scenes, fraudsters had been on a crime shopping spree and cost the industry billions each year.

We quickly realised that, although ad networks were great for connecting us, the business model was a doomed one. It was undifferentiated, commoditised and arbitraged inventory, combined with a justifiable loss of trust from buyers resulting in an inevitable race to the bottom. More importantly, it didn’t represent our original vision to be unique and think outside the box.

First and foremost, at Coull we pride ourselves on being a technology company. We have a dedicated team, many of whom are developers, and a fresh minded approach, that has lead to building and launching the Coull Platform. Our Platform consists of the Coull SSP, Coull Exchange and distinct Coull advertising formats, which are all self-built to fit Coull’s vision.

With us, publishers can earn revenue without spamming their content, advertisers can benefit from effective formats and users don’t get overloaded by ads. Not only this, but we’ve learnt from our experiences and we have a very comprehensive compliance process paired with a strong company ethos on combatting fraud.

We’ve invested in and improved our proprietary technology to ensure anti-fraud and brand safety. Applying our technology, we have a dedicated compliance team and partnerships with industry leading verification vendors. Using their audit results, our true URL detection product and IP filters, we can effectively fight domain spoofing, bot fraud and build trust between our partners.

But we aren’t stopping there. Viewability is of paramount importance. We currently measure viewability through our partners, but we have additional plans to improve our business. Using our technology expertise, in combination with our measurement partners, we expect to build our own viewable inventory marketplaces.

Unfortunately, the internet won’t ever be fraud free. Even recently, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) estimate that ad fraud is likely to exceed $50 billion by 2025. Much like a game of whack-a-mole, as soon as one source of fraud is stamped out, another three pop up. But by having our own technology and platform, regulation is a lot simpler for us and being transparent with partners is easier.

After nine years of a bumpy rollercoaster ride in the online advertising industry, we’re now proud to say we’ve come a long way, keeping our founder’s vision alive and continuing to aspire. We have a strong ethos on fraud and are always trying to be transparent, educate and work together with partners so no one has to tackle fraud alone.

If you want to find out more about Coull’s fraud fighting technology and our high performance products, talk to our team.

Coull's ethos.jpg

 

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news
Combatting ad fraud on the wild wild web

Combatting ad fraud on the wild wild web

Films are made about drug cartels and stories are told of famous bank heists. But why aren’t we talking about one of the biggest organised crimes in the world: online ad fraud? It may not seem as dramatic as many other crime stories, but the elusiveness of digital fraud is one of the many reasons it’s not stopping and we think it’s worth talking about.

By 2025, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) estimate that ad fraud is likely to exceed $50 billion, making it second only to the drugs trade in terms of income. The web is turning into the wild west; every advertiser, publisher and adtech company for themselves. Ad fraud is relentless and jeopardising free online content.

But not to worry, there’s a new sheriff in town.

Coull have come a long way since our humble beginnings, we quickly realised how huge ad fraud was and we had to change this. Since then, we have been trying to tackle fraud in the wild wild web.

First of all, what should we all be looking for?

Automated traffic: Otherwise known as non-human traffic (NHT), it is the most common form of ad fraud. These bots can come from software applications which run automated tasks over the internet to simulate human activity.

Invalid traffic: Traffic running through a domain being undesirable, this does not mean the domain itself is bad and therefore would not require blocking. However, the source of the traffic needs to be found and removed.

Ghost sites: Ghost sites are made to resemble real web sites, but have no value and instead host a multitude of advertisements.

Proxy traffic: A proxy allows anonymous access to the internet and can browse the internet without leaving a footprint. This means all ad requests will go through a proxy, so for those monitoring the requests, the only thing visible is the proxy – there’s no way to know who’s behind it.

Cloaked domains: This is when an imbalance between the domain where the ad appeared and the referring domain. This practice enables undesirable properties such as pirate and adult portals to sell inventory under a high-CPM category such as cars or travel.

Spoofing: A malicious party impersonates another device (or user) on a network in order to show ad requests from more reputable sources.

Ad injection: The ad is loaded by ad injection software, often bundled with other software like games and toolbars. This artificially inflates the number of ads on a page and can lead to negative user experience.

With a free and open Internet dependant on ad revenues, it’s important that the entire chain, along with industry associations, work together to ultimately strike out the risk of advertising fraud.

Here’s Coull’s advice and ethos:

Transparency

Being able to be completely open and honest with everyone in the industry means that, things like invalid traffic and ghost sites are easier to detect. Without transparency, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack…in the dark.

Coull strives to be a transparent and trusted company to work with, which is why we’ve put a huge amount of time, effort and investment into eradicating invalid traffic from our platform. For example, we have added features to our publisher dashboard to enable our publisher partners to see when we detect any invalid traffic coming from them and our compliance team stamp it out.

Team work

We don’t have to tackle this crime alone, using the best third party vendors to verify traffic is much more effective. At Coull, we work with MRC accredited 3rd party verification tools to track all inventory and act accordingly.

Also, we have our very own fraud detecting hero, Nicola, Coull’s compliance manager. Every day, Nicola manually scans traffic and domains to cut out the pesky bots and *inappropriate* websites. This enables us to have a multi-level process targeting ad fraud and eliminating it from our platform.

We have introduced our Traffic Quality Assurance program to help publisher partners reach the quality required to partner with Coull and to help our advertisers buy media with confidence.

No double standards

Much like the wild west, online advertising doesn’t have many set rules, turning the internet into a western shootout – fraudulent traffic coming from every direction. One way to stop fraud is by measuring genuine ad impressions and true viewability.

Although industry bodies like the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) are setting guidelines, not everyone follows them. There are a huge number of ad tech vendors running their own measurement of these standards. This means each vendor’s results will be different, affecting expected CPMs, creating a lack of expected inventory and mistrust.

Coull has been working on pre-bid viewability technology. We can detect where the ad unit is on the page before it’s served, enabling advertisers to decide what inventory to purchase based on whether their ad would likely be in view. The biggest advantage is that this minimizes wasted ad spend, giving demand partners real-time data to help them make the best buying decision.

Educate

Coull’s queen of compliance, Nicola says, “Educating people about the different types of fraud is one of the most important things at the moment. Unfortunately, law enforcement is still behind on tackling ad fraud, so we need to learn how to defend ourselves.” So that means, helping publishers recognise any fraudulent traffic and the different forms it comes in. Also, helping buyers achieve efficient and valuable return on campaigns by evading traps and not buying blind.

Direct partnerships

With the hundreds of partners, networks and exchanges out there it makes it easier for fraud to creep in. Whereas, having direct partnerships can eliminate the risk. According to Integral Ad Science, nearly 9% of digital ads delivered via programmatic channels are fraudulent, compared with only 2% of ads delivered through direct deals with publishers.

Coull cut out the middlemen by hosting our own exchange, connecting demand partners directly to publishers’ ad servers. And our formats, OverStream and Double:UP are direct publisher integrations, for a simpler, diluted environment.
What now?

Many companies are working on anti-fraud techniques, particularly the buy side. However, this year will hopefully see more supply side and exchange take the lead.

Publishers: Fraudulent activity can compromise your business model and can damage the brand’s reputation. You need to be able to identify the different forms of invalid traffic and be transparent about inventory.

Advertisers: Fake views on your online campaign is wasting money and creates inaccurate data about the ad’s performance. Make sure you know exactly what inventory you’re buying to protect brand image and have a more valuable return on campaigns.

Ad tech suppliers: If fraud is being hosted by your technology, you will be liable for rebates or refunds to your advertisers and their agencies – and may even be removed from media plans. Work on keeping up standards and abiding by guidelines. Also, direct relationships with partners result in more trust and transparency.  

It’s all about teamwork and education to banish the fraud cowboys from the wild wild web, for good.

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull news

Women in tech – it’s about balance

This is the last post in our women in tech series, but it’s just the beginning of the conversation.

In this post I speak to Coull’s compliance manager, Nicola Woodford, and demand side account manager, Laura Matthews.

We’ve already covered the issue of education, to an extent, and the steps that need to be taken to encourage more women to get into tech. This time, we’re going to talk about the work/life balance, because it’s a realistic concern for many women and something companies need to understand and support.

Both Nicola and Laura have made a significant contribution to Coull’s business strengths. They both have very specialist skills, unique to the industry and unique to Coull. I was eager to find out how the work/family balance is managed in an industry filled predominantly with men and if they’ve gained career confidence, working in a relatively new industry, where their experience and knowledge is in such high demand.

Nicola Woodford – Coull Compliance Manager

Nicola is Coull’s compliance manager, a role created specifically around her skill set, something the industry is in need of. She helps ensure Coull’s inventory is comprised of valid and viewable traffic, that’s brand safe, human and trustworthy. Whilst cyber security vendors use machine learning and algorithms to detect fraudulent traffic or traffic that’s not viewable, Nicola combines the methods of using specific technologies, and her own eyes, to spot invalid traffic before it has a chance to enter the market.

How did you get started working in programmatic ad tech?

Before working at Coull, programmatic ad tech was not something that I even really knew existed. I always noticed the ads on the websites I viewed, but it wasn’t something I really even considered. After university, I gained an internship at Coull, which really opened my eyes to online advertising and programmatics. Throughout my time at Coull, and with help from the people here, I have gained extensive knowledge in the industry.

Do you think there is enough emphasis on developing the kind of skills needed to keep digital advertising clean – and therefore, content free?

Over the last year in particular, there have been some really positive moves forward pushing the digital advertising industry to be more clean. With the increased use of ad-blockers, I think the importance of ensuring clean, good, non-intrusive advertising is becoming ever more apparent.

Do you feel there is a gender bias when it comes to women in ad tech, or just that there aren’t enough women out there applying for these roles?

There does seem to be a gender bias, especially in that there are more males in senior roles within the industry than women, I am finding that over recent years, that is slowly changing. It is only fairly recently that women have been slightly more encouraged to pursue these types of roles and I really think that starts with education. For example, I remember my teachers trying to discourage me from taking electronics as a GCSE as it was seen as more of a boys subject (luckily, I am extremely stubborn so I completely ignored them). I am 28 and those attitudes haven’t changed since I was at school, it will take some time but I like to think the balance is changing.

You have a young family, do you feel there is good enough support for you to keep a work/family balance?

I am very lucky that Coull allow me flexibility. I know many friends who aren’t so lucky in that respect. With the rising cost of childcare and living expenses, for some women it is just not possible to return to work after maternity – whether they would like to or not. Unfortunately, this means we are losing many skilled women from the workplace. My hope is that women have more support and encouragement to return to work.

Do you think working in tech allows you to manage work and family life – could this be a positive drawcard, especially for mums?

As mentioned, I am very lucky to have flexible working and I would say that is something which is much more prevalent in the tech and emerging media industries. Working from home (and other flexible working) is possible due the nature of the industry being online.

Compliance teams in programmatic are a fairly new idea, do you find partners value your input and what you’re doing to ensure the industry works better for everyone?

Most partners value the input. Many are not aware that certain inventory is invalid and there could be differences in the third party verification used, or simply not having the third party verification in the first place. Often, it is possible tell the validity of a partner by how they react to the compliance emails. I aim to educate partners in understanding and spotting invalid traffic rather than being accusatory. That way we can work more efficiently as partners and I hope, make the industry cleaner and more transparent.

How do you explain your job to your family?

I have sort of given up explaining/trying to explain it to them. After extensive explanations people usually come to the conclusion that I work in IT. Though, I was at a family get together the other week and I heard my partner explaining to his brother that my job was to look at porn sites! (That is not what I do!)

Laura Matthews – Senior Account Manager (Demand)

Laura is one of the youngest in Coull’s adops team, yet, also one of the most experienced in managing demand relationships.

What is the most enjoyable part of your day to day work?

I would have to say the people I work with make my job very enjoyable. Coull have a great team here and I can honestly say that they are all my friends. We’re able to get all the work done but also be able to laugh throughout the day and help each other out. I also get to speak to a wide range of people in the industry, which is really great. I tend to be able to talk for England, so being able to use that skill is awesome.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most difficult part of my job is when you find yourself spending a lot of time getting an account or campaign up and running and it doesn’t quite pan out to create the results you were expecting.

In your experience as an account manager, do you find you often speak with a mixture of men and women or that it’s skewed one way?

I would say, from the past four years I have worked at Coull, there has definitely been an increase of women working in the industry. The balance is still not 50/50, however, I do find I am being introduced to more women account managers every month so it is great to see that number growing.

What sort of skills have you learned from working in tech that you didn’t have before you started?

I studied a degree in History and Politics so my technical knowledge was very limited. My strength when I joined Coull, was my people skills, rather than technical ones. However I have picked up so many technical skills over the past couple of years including creating VAST/VPAID tags, production releases within our SSP and putting demand campaigns live. Don’t get me wrong, I often don’t understand what our dev team are talking about when it comes to coding but I will hopefully get there.

Do you find any clients are surprised to find their account manager for programmatic optimization is a woman?

No, I don’t think I have found this with any of the accounts I’ve worked with.

Working regular office hours in an industry where some of your clients are waking up when you’d normally be winding down must be difficult, is it hard not to take work home with you?

Absolutely. I went through a period of being online from 7am in the morning to 11pm at night and checking my emails throughout the night, which makes it very difficult to have time to yourself. I’ve learned through experience that most emails you receive after you leave work can be dealt with in the morning.

Do you feel there is enough support for young women in tech roles or do you think more could be done in terms of training, groups, conferences to build more interest and educate on emerging programmatic trends?

The digital industry is changing constantly so we often have to be quick on our feet to pick new things up. I do believe it would benefit a lot of people if there was more training groups for these emerging trends in order to keep up with the pace of things.

Would you normally describe yourself as a techie or is this something that’s really just developed because of the nature of the work you do for Coull?

I wouldn’t describe myself as a techie, that part of my personality has definitely grown throughout my time at Coull. Luckily my role as an account manager mainly focuses on relationship building, speaking to different people on a daily basis and spending time analysing reports, which are my favourite things to do. I’m lucky enough to have a great tech/dev team and Coull who are able to assist with any technical setups.

This brings our women in tech series to a close, but we hope these insights into real women, in developer, senior management, marketing, programmatic compliance and programmatic account management will encourage more discussion, and more interest in employment.

The gender gap is wide and women in tech roles often find they’re not taken as seriously as their male counterparts. The trend is slowly changing, this has been reflected by all the women I’ve spoken with, and in the work being done by industry bodies to put more women front and centre in tech and to encourage young women and girls, to adopt an interest, and a passion for tech industries.

#womenintech

If you enjoyed this blog, read the stories from our women in tech series here:

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment
Women in tech are pretty awesome

Women in tech are pretty awesome

Last week we spoke about the lack of women in tech roles and introduced Liv Franzen, Developer at Coull. We wanted to open a dialogue and help encourage more women to join the industry, and be confident to apply for senior roles.

We’re continuing the #womenintech series this week and are lucky to have 3 inspiring ladies featured in this blog.

Michelle Bommer, head of adops at Coull tells us how a sweet American girl from Southern California, found herself waking up at the crack of dawn to work on innovative video ad campaigns with her colleagues across the ocean, in the UK.

We’ll also find out from Alex Kolzoff and Sophia Amin of the IAB UK, what they’re doing to encourage and promote equality and professional growth for women within the technology space.

Let’s kick things off with Coull’s queen of adops – Michelle Bommer.

Michelle grew up in the High Desert of Southern California, after attending UCSB she moved to LA and found herself in the world of adtech. Five years later, she moved to San Francisco, and joined Coull. Since then she’s earned her place as head of adops, leading a talented team of technical campaign account managers. Michelle is respected by colleagues and clients and always has a positive, upbeat attitude, ensuring her team feel motivated and our partners enjoy the benefits.

Despite these personal achievements, when we scan the adtech horizon for examples of similar stories, we find them few and far between. The fact is, Michelle is in the company of predominantly male peers, it’s not something that particularly bothers her, but from an industry perspective – it’s a trend we need to change.

Women have every chance to be successful and make a difference to the trajectory of digital advertising and technology.  The skills, technical knowledge, application and determination to be leaders is becoming more apparent but that’s not necessarily translating into more women, with leadership roles.

I spoke to Michelle about how she sees her role in ad tech and her perception of the industry.

Michelle and Coull’s favourite dog – Gaucho.

Tell us a bit about your role as head of Ad Ops at Coull?

I head up a great team of people who work to coordinate the daily operations of our supply and demand accounts.  Through the technical onboarding, to monitoring of traffic quality and brand safety, to the daily management of partners, we ensure that everything is running as smoothly as possible, and at the end of the day our partners are happy.

How did you get into adtech? I’m assuming you didn’t always dream of running digital ad campaigns as a child lol?

I started out as an intern at a small company in Hermosa Beach that generated financial leads through affiliate and performance based marketing. I joined full time and worked there for several years managing affiliates and network relationships. I ran CPC campaigns and monetized our internal data, among other things.  It’s funny when you think back because the industry really didn’t exist when I was a kid – I would have really been before my time if I was dreaming of running digital ad campaigns.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with people in a space that is exciting and always changing.  I’ve always been a social person and someone who enjoys a good challenge, having a job in the dynamic tech space that allows me to interact with people every day, is wonderful.

What are your biggest challenges?

Starting my work day at 6 a.m. – just kidding.  Really, I am very fortunate to work with such a great group of people, they make my challenges few and far between – which is key since I am 8 times zones away from the rest of the company.

Is the gender gap in ad tech something you notice?

Having been in the adtech space for nearly a decade, it’s hard to not notice the imbalance.  I remember going to my first trade show and being one of very few women there, besides the “booth babes” hired to lure people in.  I have seen that change over the last few years though, as organizations move to address the issue and those behind the events are making a point of having more diverse panels.

Why do you think it is that there’s a lack of women in tech?

I can’t help but think early education is partially to blame, STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and math) did not exist when I was in school and similar programs weren’t exactly encouraging girls to join.  I’m hopeful though as we are seeing more of an outreach to girls today with great programs, like Girls Who Code.  I think the future generations are going to blow us out of the water.

From: Girls Who Code

Have you noticed more women being represented in either the USA or the UK?

I can’t say I have noticed a difference between the US and the UK, I think a lot of parallels can be drawn between us as more women are joining tech, and awareness around equality is made.

How can the industry help improve the ratio of men to women in ad tech/martech?

I think they have taken the first step in becoming aware of the issue and vocalizing it, and now it’s really just a matter of making it possible for women to step into these roles and succeed.  I believe organizations, tech or otherwise have a lot to gain by having more women, particularly in more senior positions.

Who inspires you?

Where do I begin?  Honestly, there are so many people out there, true trailblazers, who are doing really cool things, and you can’t forget all those who came before us. At the end of the day I’m inspired most by the people around me, my close girlfriends, who are kicking butt in life and in their respected fields, and are always there to lend support and guidance.

Women kicking butt in life is probably a great segway to move us on to talk about the IAB UK.

I spoke with the IAB UK’s Director of PR and Communications Sophia Amin (left), and Director of Marketing and Industry Engagement, Alex Kolzoff (right) to learn how they see they future.

From the IABs perspective, how do you see the future of women in ad tech? What does that future look like and what will it achieve?

Sophia:

The future of women could be utterly shattered right now with crazy politics further afield, which is a tragedy of economic proportion. Our industry is definitely not the most progressive for female representation but it is (or should be) acutely aware of what needs to be done, and a great swathe of industry have been doing a great deal about it for some time. Whether it’s tuning into adas list or helping to promote coding and tech opportunities to young women, the future of tech will only be better for the balance of gender. We know men and women hire, work and process things differently (not to say we all work the same way if we’re women) and if boards continue to be all male, there’s a very real danger that our industry will slip behind and never reach its potential.

Alex:

It’s great that diversity is such a hot topic at the moment in our industry. Being aware, and having conversations about women in ad tech can only help the long term opportunities for women in what has traditionally been a male dominated industry. I’m already noticing changes, for example six years ago at Mobile World Congress there might have been 1-5% women, but last year looking around the halls it seems more like 20-30% now. Fantastic to see such rapid change, which I hope continues long into the future.

What are you doing at the IAB right now to encourage more women to step up into senior positions in tech companies and to speak at conferences etc?

Sophia:

Alex has already touched on the focus of balancing the speakers at our conference – more on this here https://iabuk.net/blog/striking-a-balance-engage-2016 .

At the IAB, we are also just as keen to get thought leadership in any form for our industry wide comms, as we want to represent an evolving and balanced industry.

I would also hope that somehow the fact that at the IAB we employ more men than women and have myself and Alex as directors, helps to celebrate that. For me, with two young children, having taken some time out, this has only been made possible by an employer who understands my need for flexibility and having a bit of support from time to time. For me, it’s largely been senior men who have supported this, they also happen to be dads, and so they ‘get it’. So it’s not just about having women at the top to pave the way, men are equally able to make this work.

Alex:

We aim to have at least a third female speakers at our conferences. To be totally honest, this can often be challenging, but it’s really important and our members are really supportive of this initiative.

What was your experience like coming up through the ranks to be Directors at the IAB and how do we ensure the next generation of ladies start to fill dev, tech and martech positions?

Sophia:

I started my career in creative agency world – over a decade of account managing various blue chip brands in their digital marketing. I was lucky to have many brilliant, supportive women bosses, role models I guess. I vividly remember one of my worst people management experiences when I was in my mid-twenties, line managing someone who was 8 years my senior. Didn’t listen, didn’t respect me, he didn’t last long in the end but it really made me think about how you treat your boss. Whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whatever gender you both are, you need to respect them or you might as well pack up. And that’s the advice I’d give to industry. Don’t just employ and empower women, your culture needs to reshape to support this much overdue change, and defiants should be goners.

Alex:

I started my career at a media agency, followed by a few years at (was then called) Orange before I started at the IAB six years ago. At the IAB I’ve had a few different roles, starting in the Mobile department, then moving through to Marketing & Communications to now looking after Marketing & Industry Engagement. The IAB has a really unique and flexible culture that allows both women and men to grow and try new things which has been really important for my career. I think this flexibility is key for the next generation in the workforce, and should help to help female talent (and men too hopefully!) progress.

Some powerful messages from 3 successful, intelligent and truly inspiring women. If you can, take second to pass this on, let’s make sure we nurture this change and amplify the voices of women in tech.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment