Adam Cahill is the founder of Anagram, a marketing technology company, and former chief digital officer at Hill Holliday, which is part of the IPG ad network.
Question 1: We first interviewed you in August of last year. What’s new?
The big news on my side is that I just launched my own programmatic marketing company, Anagram. We officially opened for business in the middle of May.
Question 2: How did your experience as chief digital officer prepare you for this new venture?
The key themes I spent a lot of time thinking about as chief digital officer led me to believe there was a business idea in Anagram, especially the need to work in an agile way to improve results everyday, and the transition of the media business from a relationship model to a technology model. And the other way it prepared me was in terms of telling a story about where I think digital is going and what the implications for a client are, which is a big part of what the CDO job was. The story is just more focused now, because it’s all about programmatic.
Question 3: You’ve staked your professional future on the programmatic movement — how do you see this playing out over the next few years?
That sounds scary when you put it that way 🙂
I think it’s a foregone conclusion that the vast majority of media will be transacted programmatically. In the very near future essentially all digital will be programmatic. Any new publisher or platform that gains an audience and begins to sell ad space will just start out fully programmatic. Radio is becoming programmatic. I think TV will become programmatic faster than people expect, as video continues to be viewed non-linearly and as new forms of television-like entertainment appear outside of the broadcast structure.
Today programmatic is often looked at as a piece of media buy, or for direct response objectives, but in a few years time I think programmatic will be the default setting for an entire marketing campaign. The pieces to the side will be those that for one reason or another can’t be bought programmatically.
So I feel pretty confident that programmatic will continue to be the major theme in the business for a long time. What I’m less sure about is what that means for agency/client relationships. There are lots of brands bringing programmatic in house today, and if that trend continues I think Anagram could end up looking much more like a consultancy that enables clients to succeed in programmatic versus an agency that manages programmatic on a client’s behalf.
Question 4: What three publications – of any format – do you read regularly?
The New York Times for the basics. Adexchanger for all things programmatic. And Esquire for general manliness.
Question 5: Who has been the most influential person in your career development and why?
I’ve been very lucky to have had great mentors, but rather than answer the question with someone who’s been personally important to me but that no one else will have access to, I’m going to tell you about a guy named Peter Coughter. He’s a professor at VCU Brand Center and has a book called The Art of the Pitch, which I highly recommend. Peter also does pitch and presentation training, and I’ve had the chance to work with him many times. He helped me go from hating presenting to actually being pretty good at it, and it changed the trajectory of my career. I remember the first time I met him he told me that the people who pitch the best have the most success, and I really think he’s right about that.