I was born under summer sun in the desert city of Yuma Arizona. Yuma receives the most recorded mean of sunshine of anywhere on Earth and is home to the busiest air station in the United States Marine Corps. At the time of my birth the temperature was 101 degrees. My first name (Stephanie) comes from the Greek name Στέφανος meaning Crown; victorious.
From the start, I naturally gravitated towards a few specific things. One of them was the stage. As a child, this pull to perform manifested as a successful streak winning beauty pageants. I remember enjoying pageants and I thought it was cool I was good at them. Crown or not however, coincidentally, from the start, I have always known I am a Queen.
When we are all born, the Sun, the Moon, planets and stars are uniquely positioned across the celestial heavens above. Each astronomical body and it's position together paint a sort of blueprint of our soul imprinted in the sky. When I was born, the Sun was in Leo; a fire sign ruled by the Sun itself and marked by the symbol of a fearless Lion. The Moon was in Aries. Also a fire sign, Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet of energy and drive. In mythology, Mars was the God of War. The sign on the cusp of the 1st house was in Capricorn; a power sign ruled by the ambitious and persevering energy of planet Saturn. When I was born, this ruling planet of my natal chart was positioned in the 11th astrological house; the house of dreams.
For those curious, years ago Mufasa came to be a nickname spun from a phonetic similarity to my surname. I vibed with the synchronicity.
It is a pleasure to meet you.
pro·gram·mat·ic ad·ver·tis·ing (noun)
// the use of automated, data-driven processes to buy, sell and algorithmically optimize media.
When it comes to programmatic media, I do consider myself to be one of the OGs. For context, some history:
As we all know, the world wide web exploded in the early 90s. During these years, the internet experienced rapid adoption and growth simultaneously. From an advertising perspective, the boom in multiplying web domains and digital content created a vast new source of available advertising supply. This source of ad supply was highly desirable to both marketers and web publishers alike; a major challenge however was in the ability to effectively transact. As a solution to enable marketers to buy digital ads at scale, companies called ad networks came into existence. While ad networks filled a need, they also created a lot of problems. It was not uncommon for media buyers to be faced with insufficient transparency across most (if not all) critically important aspects of a media buy. Buyers also typically had no transparency into the variable cost of an ad impression making it easy for some ad networks to bundle unsavory, low quality supply together and sell it at dishonest premiums. Some ad networks also limited a marketer's ability to retain proprietary data. On top of it all, devious web bots further complicated things by generating tens of millions of dollars in ad fraud. The industry needed to evolve.
In the early 2000s, there was a ramp up in technological advancement that brought new and transforming solutions into the digital ad world. Two key developments during this time included ad exchanges (AEs) and demand side platforms (DSPs). An AE is a marketplace where digital ad space can be bought in real-time via bidded auctions (RTB). These ad trades are executed in a software called demand side platforms (DSPs). DSPs centralize the many technical complexities of the digital buying process and are built with machine learning algorithms to systematically optimize media. Using a DSP to execute an RTB buy also enables a marketing technique known as addressable media; the targeting of unique audiences with personalized ad experiences. Bidders built into DSPs can be programmed to execute billions of complex ad trades in less then a millisecond while simultaneously valuing conversion propensity so that the right ad can be placed in front of the right user at the right time for the best price.
To meet demand and best service clients, many advertising agencies in the early 2000s created internal programmatic hubs. Programmatic buying is different then traditional media buying in that it necessitates a robust technical infrastructure and complex activation processes. In 2008, Publicis Groupe (one of the largest advertising agencies in the world) formed the first ever hub of this kind called VivaKi. It is here and at Havas Media (another large global ad agency) where I had the great privilege to first hone my programmatic expertise. At VivaKi, I was the first programmatic media planner hired in Chicago (an office that would soon swell to 200+ employees). At Havas, I was brought on to start up the Chicago operation of its programmatic hub (formally known as Affiperf) which now functions as Havas' North American trading headquarters. I have led programmatic strategy and execution teams responsible for over $50 million in collective media budgets (while also earning my Masters in Business and certification in front and backend web development).
I am a visionary. I am an analyst, a designer and a digital optimization engineer. And I execute effective media experiences that always deliver.