As we kick off a new year and a new era for Index’s Product team, we sat down (virtually) with Index’s Senior Vice President of Product, Mike McNeeley, to hear more about his vision for the future, the opportunities ahead, and the key goals he’s hoping to accomplish with partners in the coming year.
First and foremost, what are you focused on this coming year? What does 2021 look like from your vantage point as the Senior Vice President of Product?
I always come back to basics: Index wants to be the leading monetization partner for content creators. How do we do that? We run fast programmatic auctions globally that provide strong yield, protect publishers and advertisers from bad ads and invalid traffic, and offer the transaction types partners are after within one trusted marketplace. It seems simple on paper, but it’s complicated in the execution at scale. That’s where we’re putting our focus for 2021.
Media consumption is at an all-time high, and we want to run as many transactions as possible to power high-quality content across formats and devices. More specifically, in 2021, you’ll see us ramp up our capabilities for publishers, app developers, broadcasters, and other partners. We’ll be bringing greater transparency and incentives to the marketplace, growing and expanding programs like Client Audit Logs (CAL) and Exchange Fee Reduction (XFR).
Additionally, I’m looking forward to having deeper conversations with partners and continuing to do what Index has always done best: turning challenges into opportunities and navigating (and driving) change across the industry.
In conversations with publishers and buyers, what are some trends you’ve seen? Where are these going?
I’ve seen a lot of publishers get more technical throughout the years, which has been very cool to watch — from managing their own header bidding wrapper, building apps or channels, to building responsive and fluid experiences. My hope is that publishers keep getting more advanced, and that will push the rest of the industry to create ad tech that is faster, more configurable, and more insight-rich.
User experience remains top-of-mind for many, and I think we could use more conversations, focus, and innovation here as an industry. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on today’s publishers to boost revenue, creating the temptation to throw additional ad units onto the page as a short-term fix. At Index, we’re working to help independent publishers find new, long-lasting revenue opportunities, ensuring they don’t have to sacrifice user experience here.
Any other challenges or opportunities you’re keen to address as Senior Vice President of Product?
A couple of things come to mind. Marketplace trust remains a core, ever-evolving challenge, and we’re all-in on the fight. Last year, we added clean.io support for all publishers to further ward against malware and expanded White Ops pre-bid filtering to protect against invalid traffic for all of our DSPs, a continued effort to keep the supply path clear and trust high.
The internet has seen a lot of outages lately with cloud providers – I think it highlights that reliability and uptime are imperative. It’s one of the reasons why we choose to run our own metal from data centers around the world at Index. It not only lets us optimize speed and keep latency low, but helps us maintain reliability for our partners.
Addressability in advertising is a top priority as well. We’re in the midst of a disruptive transition, moving from a world of third-party cookies and mobile advertising identifiers. We’re continuing to build features that support this shift, including the required privacy and regulatory features needed.
Speaking of, this time last year we were discussing Google’s announcement to eliminate third-party cookies in Chrome. How is this announcement shaking out? What’s the path forward?
What a year! From Index’s perspective, we feel like we’ve been on a path to prepare for and incorporate cookie alternatives for years, having integrated LiveRamp, Merkle, NetID, and more. As additional graph providers become available this year, and Unified ID 2.0 takes shape, there will be even more options for publishers and advertisers to leverage. Again, we plan on supporting the strongest and most secure people-based, cohort-based, and first-party data solutions out there.
Last but not least, on a lighter note, what are your interests outside of building products / ad tech?
Before the pandemic, finding the best ramen shops in New York and watching college football and basketball were my favorite things. Oregon is my team, so go Ducks!