Ad Spotlight: Chris Keenan, Global Chief Product & Commercial Officer, Finecast

  • 6 minutes read
  • Global
  • 30/05/2023

Welcome to the Ad Spotlight series where we hear from a different guest from the industry each month to get an insight into the landscape of advertising as well as their own personal experiences.

Our guest this month is Chris Keenan. Chris grew up in the United States and has over 20 years of experience working in digital media on both sides of the pond. He joined Finecast in January where he leads the global development of addressable TV advertising product solutions, oversees partnerships with key broadcasters, data providers and technology platforms, and the execution of the overarching market expansion strategy.

From developing industry-first products to creating proprietary technology for brand and agency partners, Chris is a technologist at heart.

Q: Why did you choose a career in advertising?

A: Fate and fascination. From an early age, I knew I wanted to be at the crossroads of media and technology. In the early ‘00s someone offered $1,000 to buy an educational resource website I had built as a class project. I couldn’t understand why anyone would offer money for it, so I did some research and that’s when I discovered the ever-evolving world of advertising and ad networks.   

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now?

A: There’s a danger of focusing too much on tech and not enough on creativity. It’s about marrying the two to mutually benefit one another. I’ve heard stories of people running campaigns in the past where they’ve never seen the end creative until after the campaign goes live.

In 2022, less than 1% of impressions had some form of creative optimisation applied. Our goal is to have 100% of addressable TV impression's creatives optimised by 2026. Finecast’s Innovation team has already made great strides in partnership with Choreograph Create (part of GroupM Nexus) and System1 to personalise and optimise creative.

Q: Sum up the future of advertising in three words

A: Automated – As much as I love Excel, it is used too often for tasks that could be automated. If you need to do it once, just do it. Twice? Document it. Three times? Automate it.

Omni-channel – Being truly omni-channel is like conducting an orchestra – introducing instruments (channels) at the right times (campaign flights) and volumes (budgets) throughout the piece (media plan).  

And impactful –We can measure the impact of advertising in much more granularity. And we need to be mindful of the industry’s impact on the environment and continue efforts to incorporate sustainability into business practices.

Q: What is your biggest career highlight?

A: Being part of the product team responsible for building and launching MediaMath’s Data Management Platform. It was fulfilling (and, at times, humbling) to take a concept from the whiteboard to being recognized as a leader in its category by industry analysts.

Q: And biggest regret?

A: Not moving to London sooner? I love seeing and hearing the stories from 20+ year friendships built in the early days of people’s media careers.

Q: What’s your favourite TV advert of all-time?

A: The GEICO ads in the U.S. have always been incredibly funny. They’ve had geckos, cavemen, the lot. Not what you’d expect from an insurance company.

The one that stands out is from the early ‘00s where a father at the hospital is calling collect to tell his relatives he has had a baby. #wehadababyitsaboy

You’ve worked across the industry at a time of huge change, with more to come. Let’s hear a bit about that…

Q: How important is a local mindset to making a global impact?

A: Critical. While it is essential to have a global perspective to understand macro trends and industry developments across the addressable TV landscape to enable scalable product development, it is equally important to have an in-depth understanding of the local markets in terms of consumer viewing behaviours, key supply, data, and measurement partners, creative formats, and privacy regulations.

Of course, it is also important to ensure the product maintains a consistent brand identity and value proposition across different markets. Finecast undertakes a rigorous evaluation of the local market’s landscape to ensure the conditions from a tech, talent and content perspective can uphold Finecast’s raison d'etre.

Q: What in-market challenges does an omnichannel offering answer? How does it elevate consumer experiences?

A: The Addressable TV consumer experience has come a long way with access to more premium content and improved discoverability through more intuitive user interfaces. However, studies show consumers can be frustrated by the ad experience when served the same ad multi times in the same ad break.

Adoption of new technology that solves frequency and ad clash management is growing, but this is an area the industry must improve on behalf of the consumer. We'd be remiss to forget that creativity is still at the heart of everything we do. Relevant, engaging creative will always outperform generic creative. The tools exist to generate addressable creative at scale to ensure relevancy, as well as the ability to pre-test and optimize creatives before going live with a campaign to maximize performance.

Q: What is the role of TV in an omnichannel campaign and how can success be measured?

A: TV continues to have a halo affect on other media channels, making it vital to any omnichannel plan. Thinkbox, for example, found TV boosted other channel performance by up to 54%.

Historically, TV’s performance was only measured against upper funnel KPIs like reach or through brand lift and awareness studies. More recently, attention has become a key metric in planning and measurement. But what excites me the most is the integration of commerce data throughout the campaign lifecycle.

Let's use a FMCG brand as an example…

  • From a planning perspective, you can eliminate media wastage by ensuring that TV adverts only run in postcodes where the product is sold within a 30-minute drive.
  • From an optimization perspective, you can pull in product inventory levels on a nightly basis and upweight or down weight spend in locations depending on circumstances.
  • From a post-campaign analysis perspective, you can directly connect media spend with revenue performance through sales uplift studies.

It’s incredibly exciting to measure the impact of an Addressable TV campaign throughout the end-to-end customer lifecycle.

Enjoyed this Ad Spotlight? Check out previous editions to see how other names across the industry found their way into advertising, and what they predict for its future – including Kelly Parker (CEO, Wavemaker UK) and Sue Unerman (Chief Transformation Officer, EssenceMediacomx).