Meeting ‘IRL’: Human Connection Plays A Critical Role In Adtech

Meeting ‘IRL’: Human Connection Plays A Critical Role In Adtech
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In this guest post, James Young (main photo), the Australian managing director of Magnite, says a return to the office and industry events reaffirms the value of face-to-face connections despite our tech-obsessed world…

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry adapted to find ways to innovate and connect remotely. A large number of people’s jobs suddenly became ‘pants optional.’ Virtual work renders many benefits, but it comes at the expense of the relationships between clients, colleagues and businesses across our industry. As we adjust to the new normal of hybrid work, we have the opportunity to reinvest in human connections to drive greater cohesion and collaboration.

Here’s why in-person meetings are critical to cultivating the relationships that build our industry.

In-person meetings convey value to clients

In-person meetings are key to sharing insights and ROI with clients. Meetups for quarterly business reviews or ‘lunch and learns’ help businesses convey their value in an interpersonal way. Such meetings also give clients the chance to ask follow-up questions and for companies to more fully understand their clients’ goals so they can truly move the needle.

For us at Magnite, our quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are a way to celebrate the wins, identify the areas of opportunity and ensure clients feel attached to what we are working on for them. For the last two years, not having the ability to do this in person has shown the need for in-person meetings. Relationships are much stronger when done in person. It’s tough to host a post QBR lunch over video chat.

Furthermore, an innate sense of trust, commitment and intangible value comes with taking the time to sit down with someone face-to-face. That trust cuts both ways, making for stronger relationships. In fact, 84 per cent of executives say they prefer in-person meetings for building more meaningful business connections.

Meeting face-to-face also helps businesses shape their plans, so initiatives are driven by demand. Feedback loops help companies build relevant products and tools and move clients’ businesses forward. After all, great work isn’t conceived in a vacuum.

In-person meetups also help to convert business deals and expedite action. Research shows that requests are 34 per cent more effective in person than those sent via email.

Meeting in person makes it easier to build relationships with teammates

Remote work is great. Working in your trackies feels wonderful. You get a lot of autonomy but working in a common space (even though you have to wear pants) enables us to share knowledge in real-time within our team, which is crucial in a fast-moving industry that’s highly innovative.

Decentralised teams have made it more difficult to onboard new talent and foster career development. For those looking to grow within a company, navigating a professional track is more challenging from behind screens. Connecting as a team in person is helpful: mentors can more easily meet with junior team members to guide them.

Perhaps most importantly, in-person work builds company culture, which is intrinsic to a company’s mission. For example, at Magnite, ‘empowering others’ is one of our core values. A return to the office facilitates a freer exchange of ideas across titles or departments, empowering all employees to collaborate and contribute. Such a free flow of information is vital to our business success.

Face-to-face collaboration directs the industry toward common goals 

Adtech is an industry of moving parts, and there are endless examples of how greater collaboration across the ecosystem increases consensus and improves standards for all.

For example, Prebid.org was conceived on the principle that industry stakeholders should collaborate to have more transparency and control over their programmatic pipes. It has evolved into a thriving community that provides cutting-edge solutions for header bidding, programmatic video, identity and beyond. A universal mind can produce ever-evolving solutions to the benefit of all.

Ultimately, adtech hinges upon a series of working relationships — spanning from brands to engaged audiences. Technology is the enabler of these critical connections, but it is the people behind the technology and the relationships between these people that truly keep our industry moving.

Remote work isn’t going anywhere. It’s become second nature to everyone but making an effort to connect in person, when possible, can unlock greater productivity and collaboration for our industry.

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