What makes you different from the other ad marketplaces?
Picnic's goal is to bring the high-quality ad experiences of social media to the open web, so we've created an ad marketplace with two distinct features. Firstly, we have proprietary, social-style ad formats such as Stories and Posts, which are served mid-article on editorial content. They bring the intuitive, engaging formats that brands and consumers know from the big social platforms and deliver them in a new, premium editorial content environment. Secondly, we only serve ads on Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, which are a standardised, fast-loading web format created by Google and used by millions of publishers around the world. In other words, we only serve ads on inventory which is as fast, slick and optimised towards the user's experience as an app like Instagram.
Tell us about Picnic's main achievements in 2019?
2019 was essentially the year we launched the product, so we hit a lot of milestones. We ran more than 150 campaigns for brands across almost every vertical; we also integrated with more than 50% of the UK's premium publisher market. Most importantly, we built an amazing team, doubling the headcount of engineers and commercial people that help to build Picnic's vision of creating high-quality, user-friendly ad experiences.
You made some brilliant changes to the team back in March. What are your most ambitious plans for the year?
We've been fortunate enough to be able to hire in multiple key areas — and I say fortunate as Covid has obviously affected businesses across every sector. We've increased the size of our sales team, hired marketing and PR support and also made our first hire in the partnerships team. Alex Taylor, who will be running that, is focused on increasing our supply partners, exploring publisher revenue opportunities and investigating a publisher first-party data strategy — more on that soon!
How do you think the current quarantine situation will affect the global ad industry?
Marketing is directly correlated to the economy, so if the economy suffers, ad spend decreases. However, this lockdown presents idiosyncrasies compared to previous crises — for example, some industries and niches are clearly booming, from mobile gaming to home entertainment and food delivery. Time will tell if there is an unprecedented consumer demand lead depression once lockdown lifts, which will inherently infect the ad industry.
Ultimately, there are too many unknowns to feel confident in predictions. However, I hope that once the lockdown restrictions ease, brands will start spending again and help to fuel consumer demand and get the economy firing on all cylinders.
What pieces of advice would you offer your fellow marketers to withstand this crisis and come out stronger?
Marketing is an investment. Every brand and business is unique and will have its own financial capabilities. However, where possible, brands should be looking to invest during this period so they can come out of the lockdown stronger.
Please name three things that help you stay sane and motivated during the quarantine.
Routine — the switch to WFH was shocking and dramatic. Creating new routines (daily 9.30am team call, weekly zoom drinks) to replace the old ones (commuting) help create structure and differentiate work and home life. Realistic goals — goals are so useful for motivating people, but they only work when they're achievable. We altered our goals at the beginning of the covid crisis to reflect the realities of the new market we were in. Baking — digital marketing is mind-bogglingly fast-paced, global and always changing, whilst baking is rudimental, methodical and slow. Having a hobby which is the complete opposite of my day job has been therapeutic during this stressful period.