Gediminas Blažys of Adnet media tells us about the largest online advertising network that controls a huge programmatic ad inventory in the Baltic States.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gediminas Blažys: It has been a challenging time for everyone, including myself and my family – we had to get used to the new reality with less socialization, but more outdoors. I would say we handled it quite well and are able to keep safe while maintaining a hassle-free life.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Adnet media
Gediminas Blažys: I joined Adnet media as an ad trafficker, an entry-level position, some 8 years ago. During the time I had the pleasure of working with and learning from brilliant minds, some of them now lead world-class businesses. A lot has changed since I joined, not only the owners of the company but the whole client approach and business focus. Seems that 8 years is a lot in one company, but there has not been a single year that would have been like the previous one. I am certainly grateful to my wonderful and extremely talented team who lets me evolve as a professional, leader, and person.
How does Adnet media innovate?
Gediminas Blažys: For most of the Adnet media’s existence the advertiser has been the absolute focus for us, but with emerging of what we now know as programmatic advertising our focus has shifted towards our publishers and the technology that lets them optimally monetize their inventory through all available ad demand sources, keeping its brand-safe and GDPR compliant. We incorporate our 20-year long sell-side know-how, direct sales powerhouse, 1st party data, the most innovative ad tech solutions, such as client-side and server-side header bidding, viewability-based bidding and price control, bid caching, proprietary tools, development, and SEO service to a unified all-around product for publishers to attend all publisher needs. As a result, Adnet media is the biggest programmatic supply partner in the Baltics, controlling almost half of programmatic ad inventory in the region and even more in some countries.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Gediminas Blažys: Once rough times hit any business usually marketing is the first cost to cut – this is exactly what happened with the pandemic. Cuts in marketing budgets mean a direct drop in ad revenues, so with the start of the first quarantine we saw a sharp and extreme drop in our direct sales as well as a significant decrease in programmatic revenues. It was a very harsh wake-up call that the pandemic can seriously hurt us. It took us some time to recuperate and figure out solutions to compensate the losses, but now, after the year is over, I can confidently say that we handled it well enough. We were actually able to grow our controlled inventory to over 4Bn monthly ad requests.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Gediminas Blažys: We certainly did, both in terms of business decisions and human resource management. The biggest lesson we have learned is pretty obvious – inside communication is key and common sense is not that common. The pandemic and especially the lockdown let us understand that there cannot be too much communication and that we must invest even more into the mental and psychological well-being of our team.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Gediminas Blažys: One of the more notable additions is an anonymous psychological consultation opportunity for any team member in need – no questions asked.
Another successful event is the monthly quality hour when guest speaker shares their knowledge on various topics.
Other than that – the classics: daily, weekly, monthly calls, tasking system, emails, group chats, and the like.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gediminas Blažys: We like to call our competitors as colleagues from another company. In many terms, Google is our biggest competitor, but also our most valued partner. We work with more companies providing some of the services we do, such as Magnite, Xandr, or Adform, but our size and attitude let us attend to the needs of our publishers more thoroughly. Our flexible approach in terms of competitors and allies is what allows us to stay in the game and provide top-notch overall services to our publishers and advertisers.
Your final thoughts?
Gediminas Blažys: They say “May you live in interesting times” – I guess someone took it too literally and last year was a bit too interesting for my taste, but every crisis is an opportunity, the hardships show the true potential in people and whether your product is worth anything. We greet the new year with new products, a stronger team, and even more ambition!