What is the best strategy for sales and programmatic?


In this episode, Gina Cavallo, CRO of Audigent, the leading data activation, curation, and identity platform, is here to share her insight.


She’ll also cover:


  • How to decide if a brand should go in-house
  • The future of third party cookies
  • Aligning sales and marketing
  • The process of driving revenue
  • And more


Mentioned in this episode:



Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.


Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about sales and programmatic. Here to speak with me is Gina Cavallo, who is the Chief Revenue Officer of Audigent, the leading data activation, curation, and identity platform. 


Gina is a global sales leader with over a decade of experience leading high growth sales teams. She has been tasked with building and managing Audigent’s global sales team and overseeing the company’s revenue operations. Before Audigent, Gina worked at LiveRamp serving as Global Managing Director, Agencies. There, she managed the company’s agency relationships with a special emphasis on the world’s largest agency holding companies. Gina, welcome to the show.


Gina Cavallo: Steffen, thank you so much for having me. Really excited to be here.


Steffen: Gina, before we start talking about sales and programmatic, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself. How did you get started in your career, and what led you to becoming a CRO at Audigent?


Gina: It’s a great question. I think, you know, I’m probably going to date myself and sound, you know, tell you how old I am. But I feel like this didn’t exist when I was in college. You know, when I went to Fordham University, I studied communications. I had a cousin who was a very prominent entertainment attorney, and like, you know, every other, I’m sure a lot of families feel the same. It’s like lawyer, doctor, teacher, right. 


These are the roles that your parents expect you to go into. And so I had, you know, every expectation as to going to law school with that sort of safety net of communications, and, you know, got through and really didn’t want to. I think my heart was not in it. And I was doing it for the wrong reasons. And so, you know, took a another year and did my Master’s in communications. 


And, honestly, it was just a happy accident that I wound up interning at a very, very early stages digital agency in New York City that focused on really early social media. You know, Friendster, MySpace, things that, you know, really don’t have a place in the ecosystem anymore. And kind of loved you know, the creativity and just sort of, you know, this uncharted space. 


And I really don’t have much of a you know, how I got there other than I just got my foot in the door, at Ogilvy and Mather, which was, you know, the only thing I knew, because everyone had Ogilvy on Advertising in college. That white little textbook. And worked in direct mail at IBM, like everyone at Ogilvy has touched that account at some point in their career. And wound up getting moved over to the Tineo at Ogilvy, when it first spun out of mindshare. 


Which is so ironic, because now it’s spinning, you know, kind of swung back in. And first class would be Ogilvy 2005. And from there spent a great deal of my time, I guess, the first quarter of my career on the agency side between WPP and publicists. And, you know, was an incredible experience. But, you know, back then, there were barely any metrics. It was just a different world. We were still really learning and sort of figuring everything out. 


And it was an amazing, I’d say accident, because I fell into this industry that I love so much, and gotten to see how it’s just evolved from really the onset. And then, you know, I hopped into sales, I think I was 27, at a startup in San Francisco called RichRelevance. And from there, you know, I’ve worked at so many different companies RichRelevance and Conversant, which was ValueClick, back in the day, and then Epsilon now and Samba TV and God, just a lot of a lot of companies where I’ve learned different disciplines. 


And my last as you mentioned, was LiveRamp, which was great, because they learned so much about, you know, identity and data connectivity. And so really set me up for when this job came across my lap. I, you know, I think I was very well suited to be able to work at Audigent because I always say like, every experience, good or bad, has given me there’s been something that I’ve taken from it that’s built on, you know, for the next. 


Like, when I worked at Playground really managing a p&l really helped me for this job. LiveRamp, identity, data, you know, really helped me for this job. So I think how I got here has been sort of a zigzag, but I’d say every experience I’ve had has been very valuable because it’s allowed me to get to Audigent to this point in my career.


Steffen: You early on said, you know, a couple of the early on social platforms, they don’t obviously exist anymore. It’s kind of a little bit similar to programmatic. Not that it disappeared, but from kind of the onset of programmatic when it popped up, I don’t know, from 2007, 2008. I think that’s when I kind of heard the first time about it, and was confronted with it, to now. In the early days people, you know, there was remnant inventory. 


So inventory couldn’t be sold. And that’s what was programmatic advertising. Over the years, it has obviously changed a lot. What’s your view? How, that kind of area, that entire area has changed? And where are we now with programmatic advertising?


Gina: Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, some of that stigma comes back as you mentioned, from the very early days when we just didn’t know. And it was, I think you have that also that legacy, you know, the legacy ad network stigma, right. There’s so many of them. I worked at one. I feel like there was five companies that competed in the space, they feel like they relatively did a lot of the same things. 


But a lot of that was tarnished with the stigma of, you know, remnant inventory or low quality inventory. And I think, somehow that translated into the onset of programmatic. I mean, from what we know now, and especially what we do at Audigent, we’re plugged into 23 global SSPs. And obviously, some of these massive companies like PubMatic, and Magnate and OpenX. And obviously, the inventory has changed. 


These are, you know, the companies that are, you know, helping the publishers monetize that space. And so, I agree with you, there’s definitely that lingering stigma, but it’s not the reality when you talk about what is actually within the programmatic space. And within, you know, the philosophy for Audigent within our SmartPMP products. And what we deliver to our clients is quality data and quality inventory.


Steffen: Yeah. So let’s talk a little more. What does programmatic advertising these days, what can advertisers do within the programmatic landscape?


Gina: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think, you know, there’s a lot of things. I think there’s just obviously automation just allows you to get to speed to market. Speed to market across several channels, I think we were a lot more slow and clunky before programmatic. How many iOS you have to send out upfront negotiations or different commercials. And so I think there’s just a speed to market when you think about programmatic, and then just the amount of different publishers you can access. Even the pricing efficiencies. 


You know, it was Audigent, not to just tell us too hard here, but you know, we are in a dynamic CPM within our SmartPMP. So that really allows us to provide more efficient pricing, via programmatic, which, you know, everyone knows the marketing funnel. And of course, you have to fill the funnel. Those things are very important. But at the end of the day, if you think about an agency versus the CMO of, you know, XYZ brand, they still care about the bottom line. 


They still care about what is that cost per acquisition or, you know, whatever their bottom line KPI is. And so efficiencies are always going to be really important. So I think their programmatic also allows just the ability to be a lot more efficient and optimize more dynamically. 


Obviously, with AI and then also trading, becoming a new discipline over the last few years, right. We didn’t have traders really back in the day. But the optimizations and performance, obviously, it bolsters that as well. So I would say hopefully, to answer your question, you know, I think performance, efficiency, access speed to market are all the benefits of programmatic.


Steffen: Now, for programmatic platforms these days, you are able to buy many more different advertising products, right. Back in the days it was predominantly display advertising. A prospecting and you could do retargeting. These days, you know, you can buy TV, you can buy podcasts. I mean, wherever people are, and where kind of platforms are connected, you can show advertising for your clients. 


How has that had an impact on programmatic as a solution? Has that changed that programmatic predominantly is kind of an upper funnel activity in most cases. Again, there’s some retargeting part of it, or has that also moved down the funnel, the fact that there are more different advertising solutions available.


Gina: I think there are more, I think, you know, I’ll take audio and digital out of home and as you call them, I was say CTV is really like the least emerging channel because it’s been around for a while. But you know, these are a lot of times these are branding. These are not things that are especially TV trying that too, is more expensive, the CPMs are more expensive. 


That’s not what you’re doing to drive bottom to funnel. Obviously display and search are still going to be paramount for those in terms of media tactics. But I do think you see that these branding channels are also adapting to programmatic to be able to be accessed at scale. I think it also allows, you know, talk about accessibility. 


If you’re a smaller brand, then you want to be on you know, television or on Spotify or some of these other emerging channels that allows you to be able to access that without having to be, let’s be honest, if you’re not Nike, or Coca Cola, or big fortune 500 Company. But you are smaller XYZ brand, it’s harder to negotiate, it’s harder to, you know, to get them on the phone. And so I think it also allows access to some of the emerging media channels as well.


Steffen: It levels the playing field a little bit, right. Even someone with, as you said, a lower budget, who probably in a one to one negotiation, in a more media network setup, would probably not be able to get the rates that they’re able to get when they now access inventory through a platform.


Gina: Oh, absolutely. You know, look, there’s I, you know, came from the agency side. I know, there’s that movement of bringing things in house here and there, but the agency still has a ton and ton of value in terms of the ability to actually really help negotiate the best rates for their clients. So, you know, that is always, I think the agency is always gonna have a really important part in our ecosystem.


Steffen: Yeah. Now, programmatic providers, if you want to do programmatic advertising, you kind of have two routes that you can go right. You can go with a managed service, which means a service team, a DSP, or kind of trading desk solution will manage a campaign or you do it in house. What from your perspective are kind of the deciding factors whether a company should go managed services versus in house?


Gina: Yeah, you know, I think, to be honest with you, because I mean, at Audigent, we offer both. I think a lot of it comes down to resources for the client. You know, we have a full supply side trading team, which handles all of our SmartPMPs. And then we have the managed service team, or by side traders. And a lot of it comes down to the resources that that company has. 


Not just independent or smaller companies, but some of our bigger holding company partners, you know, if they don’t have the capacity to trade because of it’s been, I think, it’s a universal thing that I hear from my clients and agency partners that we just don’t have them traders. Or it’s really hard to find great, you know, great folks. 


And so we’ve become, you know, a partner in terms of managed service to help them really extend what they’re trying to do internally. So I don’t know if it’s better or worse. I think it’s a resourcing thing. When we built Audigent, you know, we have sort of two ways for clients to work with us. And it’s whichever way they need us to.


Steffen: There’s going to be a change coming, I think, in about a year’s time when third party cookies actually are going to disappear. That so far allowed companies to go out and do prospecting, and really target groups that they hadn’t communicated with, or individuals they hadn’t communicated with. How is advertising going to change with third party cookies disappearing?


Gina: Yeah, I mean, look, you know, I think it’s fairly, I’m not saying anything that I think a lot of people don’t already know. But I mean, open exchange gets obliterated, pricing goes through the roof, right. Scale goes down. And you really need to understand how you’re going to utilize that first party data in the new world. And so, you know, Audigent’s POV is all about interoperability, and looking at about probabilistic identifiers, like cognitive data, and contextual data, as well as deterministic data. You know, some of our partners, like you mentioned, LiveRamp and Idfive, right. 


Because if you look at it in terms of probabilistic and deterministic, then you’re able to really scale when the cookie does go away. If you’re looking at it through one lens, then again, you know, as I mentioned, your scale goes down, and you’re not reaching, you know, you’re not reaching everyone need to reach. And also your pricing goes up and there goes the entire, you know, efficiency. The entire efficiency game. 


So, you know, our POV at Audigent is that sort of balance of probabilistic and deterministic, which is part of our Hadron ID. And we sit in a place where we’re interoperable, where we can really help our clients, you know, through the next phase of what’s going to happen next year when the cookie does deprecate. And, you know, we’ve been ahead of it. 


So all of our not just our first party data partners, or third party data partners like Axiom, Epsilon, Experian working with us, because we’re through the supply side, everything is cookieless. So we’re already, you know, kind of ahead of that. So any of our clients that are actually working with us already, are sort of safeguarded for what happens in 2024. 


I think, you know, not every client has been so proactive, I think because the can keeps getting kicked. It’s like, just kidding. It’s not happening this year. Just kidding. It’s not happening again. So you know, agencies and brands are not sure how to sort of respond to that. When do I actually need to just to worry about this. 


And so we’ve seen a mix of, you know, clients, especially when I was at LiveRamp in my previous role where there were more brands and agencies that were thinking about it back in 2020, and testing and learning. And others that were just sort of waiting for the shoe to drop, so to speak. And I think, you know, we sort of see a mix of that still. 


But, you know, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next year. I’m very grateful that I do work at a company that sort of thought that through and that we will be well prepared for when it does happen. So we can support our clients and agency partners, you know, through that transition.


Steffen: Yeah. So how do you help, or how does Audigent help their clients and agencies to prepare for a cookieless future?


Gina: Well, so all the data that they action, you know, so at least on the world’s largest now cookieless privacy compliant data marketplace, that we action be the supply path through our integrations with our SSP partners. So the SmartPMP, which is I guess, you’d say, our product that combines data and inventory onto one deal ID. Again, interoperable with any of the DSPs that they might be working with, everything is already cookieless from the onset. 


So there’s really not much else they need to do because it was built in a way that was already cookieless. So if they’re working with us, they’re already okay for the next phase of what might happen next year. Obviously, if there are clients that, you know, haven’t thought about that in terms of their first party data, that’s something that we can obviously help them with. Not to get too sales pitch on your podcast, but you did ask, so I’m gonna tell you.


Steffen: Yeah, yeah. Now, for advertisers that are not working with you. What would you advise them to start to actually prepare for the cookieless future? What should they do? What are the steps they need to go through in order to not see kind of media activities or results falling off a cliff?


Gina: 100%. I mean, look, I think this is the beauty about digital is that everything has always been accountable, right. Even back in the day, and when we had very little metrics, there’s still accountability which was, which I think there’s no better industry to test, learn, fail, break it, build it. You know, just keep trying. I think, you know, my advice is, test us test, you know, anyone else’s face, our interoperable partners. 


I think as, what I would say is just continue to see all the different offerings in the space and draw your conclusions as to what works best for your brand or your agency. But it certainly, we’re in an industry that, you know, test and learn is how we started and how we’ve grown and how metrics have continued to innovate. Just how we’ve just innovated, just testing and learning and breaking things.


Steffen: Yeah, yeah. Now, let’s move on to sales a little bit and talk about that. Where do you start when you join a company, and then you take over the responsibility of kind of driving revenue?


Gina: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I think, especially coming in as the new person you know, I’ve been there, I think it’s about a year and seven months now. So Audigent has been around long since, you know, since I was in the picture. But I think a lot of it is, you know, really working with your team individually. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses, because you know, salespeople are like snowflakes, and no one’s the same. 


They are not motivated the same way. They’re, you know, I think there’s like a balance as a leader, in terms of, you know, managing the numbers, obviously, because we are a revenue driven organization, that is my job. But also managing to the people and the personalities a bit to make sure you know how to motivate them. 


And coming in, it was really about assessing the business, looking to optimize the team that we had, where can I help. I think, I want to say 17 or 18 years right now, of experience, relationships. How do I help open doors? How do we deepen partnerships? How do we, you know, look at larger commercial deals that we haven’t, you know, we didn’t do prior. So I think, for me, that was really my first 30, 60, 90. And it’s also about building, you know, internal trust with not just my sales team, but then with my leadership team. 


With Drew and Greg. Greg Williams, our President. Drew Stein, our CEO. Dave Rosner, our CMO. All of the stakeholders that are my teammates, and we all, we rely on each other. So it’s a bit of a process. So I know I’ve given you a lot of different angles, but I think, you know, the first 30,60, 90 is all about building credibility, and then really going in there and assessing what’s going on and then figuring out how to set the strategy to accelerate growth.


Steffen: So when you previously were in a situation where you went into a company where there was no sales structure, where do you start in that situation? You know, what are the first hires? What are your first activities?


Gina: I mean, I had that with Playground, you know, a company that came over from Australia. And you’re really, you know, putting I mean, I actually did the health insurance for this company. Luckily my family business is insurance, so I was able to sort of leverage that to get, you know, get that started. But you’re doing all the things, you’re getting the office space, you’re building the team, you’re putting in, you know, things like Salesforce and CRM structures. And it really just, you learn by doing but also you learn by being in other organizations that have had it set up so well. 


So if I think about my longest sales stint, you know, Conversant you know, Epsilon, I mean, talk about a well oiled machine. A lot of the things that I learned in my sales career, in terms of structure, and even just leadership from my former head of sales, it just, you take those things, and you adapt them for a new culture, a new company. But really it is just jumping into the fire, and just, you know, just getting it done.


Steffen: So one of the challenges I quite often face when I, or we, often face when we talk to prospects is that the sales side and the marketing sides are not necessarily aligned, you know. They’re looking at different metrics. And there is kind of this argument, well, you know, I sent you a lot of leads, you just don’t do enough to convert them. How do you, you and Dave, so your CMO, how have you, when you joined kind of built a basis that you both work from, and then basically ensure that whatever he does, is kind of helping you fulfill the sales goal that the organization has given you?


Gina: Oh, absolutely. I mean, look, Dave, and I have to work in lockstep, right. There’s, there’s no other, there’s no two ways about it. You know, I mean, we do share an office. He talks to me more than I think anyone is life. I mean, we’re, you know, we’re pretty tight at the hip, but we have to be with, you know, lead process. I can’t take credit for it, because they built it before I got there. 


But we do look at leads, and, you know, let’s say someone on my team doesn’t follow up on those leads, I’m the person that has to go in as the enforcer and make sure that it happens. Because you know, that doesn’t help the marketing team reach their goals. And so it’s, I have to think of it as you know, helping marketing help sales in so many ways. Marketing helps the Audigent brand in getting a smaller company to have more visibility within the marketplace. 


And when we do things like CES, or can, we have to make sure that we also, as a team, we’re tracking everything to revenue. So that when we go and do planning for the next year, you know, my CMO has all the data and all the metrics as to why that was a good investment for the company. 


And then you know, conversely, I need Dave as well to, you know, plan out the year and make sure that even on a local level that, you know, my team in LA gets localized marketing supports. You know, Chicago and London and Atlanta. So it really is a two way street. And we have to work incredibly close to make sure that we both get what we need. And I am very much, you know, on top of the team to make sure that they get those to do’s done with the marketing team.


Steffen: Now providing feedback from a sales side to marketing, obviously, it’s important. Marketing creates leads, your team has to work those leads and has to identify whether a lead is good, moving on from MQL to SQL to opportunity, and hopefully at some point to become a sale. How have you established kind of a feedback loop that allows to give information to the marketing team on what type of leads have a higher quality?


Gina: I think, obviously, we rely very heavily on Salesforce and everything being within one centralized location for them to pick up the leads, and then you know, provide feedback, so everything lives in one place. But also, I would have to say that I can’t actually answer that question without Nathaniel who’s on our team who is just, he’s incredibly brilliant. I mean, he’s just rebuilt the entire structure. And so it works like a well oiled machine, because we brought him on about six months ago. 


And writes code in a way like, you know, he’s just a different brain. And I think, you know, hiring great people that are able to not just like, do things, you know, just continue on the same way, but look at it, innovate, change it to be better. I mean, he was an incredible hire that Dave made, who has made that process so much more valuable than before he started.


Steffen: How do you and Dave kind of, I mean, you have your overall goal, right? The annual goal, and I assume there are quarterly goals. How do you two catch up. You’re we’re sitting in one room, that obviously helps, but what have you guys set in place to kind of align with information that one or the other person passes back and forth?


Gina: Yeah, I mean, we obviously have a standing calendar that gets you know, a meeting that gets moved a million times. I mean, Dave and I have become, I’d say at this point, incredibly close friends and colleagues and we, you know, there’s, I mean, honestly, there’s no better substitute for picking up the phone. And, you know, I think we talk a lot. 


Slack text, whatever it is, I think we’re just in constant communication, because we’re not always in the same place. There are times when, you know, I have to go to Chicago, but he has to go support something in Atlanta, and we have to divide and conquer. And, you know, that sort of part of being, you know, a smaller organization. 


And it’s just communication is everything. I think communication. We just had a gut call this morning about it, you know, transparency. Our CEO Drew Stein always says, you know, run with good news, but run faster with bad news. And we don’t have this organization where we’re not direct and kind, because you can do both. 


But we’re not direct and immediate with each other so that we can get ahead of things and tackling obstacles as a team. But I’d say, you know, going back to the original thing, we’ve talked about. My first 30, 60, 90 is really just building those relationships. And, you know, I’m very lucky that Dave Rosner is, I’m not just saying that, because he’s at Audigent, is actually one of the best CMOS I’ve ever worked with in my career. 


Steffen: Great.


Gina: And he’s a former IPGer so you know, an agency person. So there’s probably, there’s that too.


Steffen: That helps, I think. Having the agency background helps, I would assume in a situation or in a company, like Audigent.


Gina: Absolutely. I mean, look, we talk about superpowers a lot. You know, we have these Friday calls where we get together as a company, we talk about a topic. This week, an hour ago, we talked about gratitude. In the wake of everything that’s happened this last week, within the industry, some of our friends and colleagues losing their jobs. 


We talked about gratitude for an hour today. But a couple of weeks ago, we talked about superpowers, and what’s your superpower? And I lean on my agency experience, because I truly think it’s a superpower to be able to look at a product and say, how is this going to fit IPGs problem, which is different than WPPss problem. 


But even earlier in my sales career, you know, it was a strength to be able to understand how to service clients, understand their pain points, you know, just something as simple as getting back to them within, you know, five minutes. Confirm receipt, I’m getting back to you as a young salesperson. Because I remember being at publicist till 9pm with a salesperson, not getting back to me and this is you go back to 2009. 


I’m really gonna sound old here, but didn’t have a laptop, I had a giant desktop that I couldn’t bring home. So I had to stay in the office until that got done. And if a salesperson was not able to tell me what I needed, I mean, that made my job so much harder. So my experience at the agency side this five and a half years are just invaluable. It allows you to have empathy and to to understand your clients and how to make their lives a bit easier.


Steffen: That’s a great last statement. Now Gina, thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on programmatic advertising or programmatic and sales. Now if people want to find out more about you and Audigent, how can they get in touch?


Gina: Yeah, absolutely. I would say my email is gina@audigent.com. LinkedIn, email, and again, to my previous point, I’m very responsive. I always welcome any chats even if it’s not about business. I mentor a lot of folks in the industry. So I’m an open book, please reach out anytime to anyone that needs anything.


Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you’d like the Performance Delivered podcast please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.


Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience-focused and data-driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at symphonicdigital.com.