An Interview with Les Seifer- Global Head of Creative at Tremor International [VIDEO]

Charlie Cadbury and Norbert Horvath sit down with Les Seifer, the Global Head of Creative at Tremor International to explore his background and Tremor’s role in the advertising industry.

Speakers: Charlie Cadbury, CEO, Say It Now; Norbert Horvath, CTO, Say It Now; Les Seifer, Global Head of Creative, Tremor International.

Read the full transcript for the video here:

Charlie Cadbury 0:00
crack on crack on. So hello we’re here today with Les cipher from trama video obviously no buts here as well and introduce yourself Can you explain what’s what who you are what you do?

Les Seifer 0:13
I am les cipher and the Global Head of creative for tremor International. That is a growing tech company. We have a DSP. In terms of video we have unruly who is our SSP, we have a DMP, and all solutions that tie all this in and stuff together. And so I oversee a global team of digital creative experts is the best way I could put this. So we’re based across the globe and all regions, we kind of do two separate things I would say. So are part of my team brings trauma internationals, own branded stories to life working with marketing and product marketing, and all the things you do as an ad tech company. The other part of the team is truly which is our in house creative studio is a been around for a long time. And we basically see our role as bridging the gap in the digital space across all screens, between brands, media teams, creative teams, always disconnects. But always opportunities. So we see are just kind of sitting in that sweet spot to help them out.

Charlie Cadbury 1:21
Amazing. And so what’s what’s what’s your background? What What brought you to this to this role, this place this chair.

Les Seifer 1:27
So I came in, I would probably saying the second wave of ad tech. So like many people, not at all from this industry, I had no idea what ad tech was. I had friends who were in it. And I think a lot of people that time did a similar thing. They were making career changes from either traditional advertising or broadcasting or other like way out of left field. And I was more out of left field probably but always dancing around creative. So I was I worked in the fine art world for a very long time in galleries wearing many hats. doing marketing with that as well. A designer, I did. Concert posters were touring musical acts, way back when I’ve always painted a painter at showing gallery. So always creative, always creative. But this kind of intrigued me because it was like creative, but technical as well. It was like a nice way to bridge the two gaps, which I think is always that weird tension. We still have to this day of like, cool. There’s all these technical solutions, but how do you bring it back to the creative? How do you bring it back to the person who actually sees the ad who doesn’t care about all of that stuff? You know, the targeting and the measurement and all the other technical terms we use? They just see an ad at the end of the day, how do we make it feel like a really valuable experience for them?

Charlie Cadbury 2:42
And so what was it it was a usual day look like a normal

Les Seifer 2:45
day. There is no normal day in this industry ever. But I would say for me these days is less, less than the wheats, getting my hands dirty with the creative, it’s more bizdev people management looking for opportunities. So a lot, I’m on the phone all day, or I’m in rooms all day talking at this point. So it’s always looking for opportunities with with folks like you like how else can we do some exciting things. It’s working with my directors on my team. You know, setting the vision, collaborating on the vision for what truly can do in industry going to conferences, things like that.

Charlie Cadbury 3:22
And then in terms of kind of your your own personal attitude towards advertising rights, we’re kind of trying to find the those some best practices, you know, what’s, what keeps some messaging in mind, right? Think back to maybe the first first ad that you can remember or something that sticks out? First that

Les Seifer 3:39
I so I’m going to date myself. So back when I was really young, I remember a lot what I remember about commercials was basically you watch cartoons. You get cereal ads, they were cartoons, they felt like they were almost like the content you’re already watching, you know, but catchy jingles. But you know, the thing with TV back then is like you had they had big audiences like there wasn’t a lot of competition for my eyeballs at that point. But the first ones that really made an impact, I think would be in the ad. So like the the apple 1984 George Orwell, big ad that it was just like there was nothing like that when that hit. It was like a long form. It was like 60 seconds long. I think Ridley Scott or someone directly it was like a big deal. And it felt cinematic. It felt important. It was telling a story had a narrative to it. And it made everybody talks about it. Everybody was talking about that afterwards.

Charlie Cadbury 4:33
Do you think that’s that retained in your mind because you spoke about it or because it was different?

Les Seifer 4:39
It was just so different. I think if I remember correctly, it aired during the Super Bowl. So that was like a big that’s like the biggest thing in the US watching the Superbowl. So just having this minute long film, interrupt your, you know, your sports, big sports event was a big deal at the time and everyone was like what is this thing? I’ve never seen an ad like this. It felt serious. but it also was like kind of disruptive it was Apple basically introducing itself to the, to the home computing world, right. And like it’s the big boys like IBM or whoever. So they did a really good job. But also I think of like, like Wendy’s, I don’t know if you had this indicate, but when he’s like, where’s the beef, I feel like was around that same time. And that also to me was like, ushered in a new thing where there’s always been humor in ADS. But I think they had like a weird postmodern wink wink, kind of absurdist thing going on with that. And it just caught on and became really viral. Like you couldn’t get away from where’s the beef as like a slogan. And I feel like you could probably take that out and put it on TV right now and 2022. And it would be just fine. You wouldn’t have to change anything about it. That sensibility still exists to this day,

Norbert Horvath 5:44
right? So tremor has been not just observing the evolution of video, but also directly participating in its VOD, to streaming to CTV to a Well, that’s all. Where do you see it going? When When will see DVB? Just TV? And then what’s next?

Les Seifer 6:06
That’s a really good question. It’s interesting, because, you know, if you just look at it, by teams, we see it like the agencies, it used to be separate, there was a TV buying team. And there was like a digital team very separate, separate budgets. And digital was all about mobile and desktop for a very long time. They’re realizing now connected TV is like this is TV. And this is a new way people consume TV. And we still talk about linear TV, which is your traditional TV. And then you talk about connected over the top TV, but it’s really CTV dummies like that nice blend of you get the best of both worlds, you get that big screen, biggest screen in the house, lots of real estates tell a story, people are leaning back, they’re taking in the content in a different way than they would on their little phone. But you have some level of measurement and targeting and things you can do that are more interesting than what you could do on a, you know, traditional TV. But I think it’s all merging. It’s so we see the teams merging, we see the technology is merging and viewer consumption habits, I think are merging. And if I look at my son, he’s not looking at a TV that much he’s looking at this thing. He’s looking at movies and TV shows, and everything in between on his phone, he’s consuming things that were meant for big screens on a tiny screen, which is what his generation is up to.

Norbert Horvath 7:16
So we agreed to the second second screen is in fact, merging and also becoming the first screen right?

Les Seifer 7:23
Yes. And we’re seeing you know, there’s ways you can kind of bring the two together. Like we just know consumer behavior, patterns of sometimes they’re watching TV and ad comes up, people pull out their phone, what do they do? You know, there’s, so we have to find ways it’s a little more challenging these days to advertise the people even if you think you know what screen, they’re gonna, you’re gonna get them on, what are they doing, when they get that ad? You know, are they? Are they going to pull out their phone and look at that? Are they going are they out and about on their phone? And they’re, you know, maybe they’re in a park or a cafe and there’s distractions all around you, you have to prepare for all of that.

Norbert Horvath 7:55
Right? So so there’s a difference between at home watching and on the go, but now purely at home watching work? Where do you see this going? What do you see it evolving? The leanback experience and the interactivity of that? What do you see in the future?

Les Seifer 8:10
I try not to make predictions because I’m always wrong with this stuff. I can tell you one thing, it will definitely not be what it is now, five years from now. That’s all I can tell you. I do think we’ll have more. Hopefully we’ll see more like augmented and virtual reality. I think that’s been poised to kind of bring more into the mainstream for a long time you see it in gaming stuff. But I think as the technology develops and more content is produced that way, that’s where everything else follows. Like, yeah, you’ve seen we even dabbled in some of that with advertising. And we were a little early on it, frankly, a few years ago, where I was like, here’s the cool new thing. It’s exciting, but there was no scale for it. And there weren’t enough eyeballs like doing that on a day to day basis. So I think that will definitely come into play. And you know who and even CTV right now seems very primitive, in a lot of ways like you have this one remote with just a couple little buttons. There’s no universal spec for even how that works across different platforms, the Smart TV so I think we have a long way to go just on that front to like unify things with connected television.

Charlie Cadbury 9:12
No, I’m talking about voice and your experiences from voice to smart speakers voice voice assistants, you remember the first time you ever used a voice system?

Les Seifer 9:21
I’m gonna say I’m gonna say it’s about a decade ago with Siri right when when Apple first put that on the iPhone that was like, it felt revolutionary. So I think that’s when I started doing it. I was excited by it but I thought you know it needed a little work it didn’t always hear what you were saying properly make the right recommendations, but I think it’s it’s evolved since then. That would be the first time

Charlie Cadbury 9:44
and then had been how is your attitude relationship changed since then to now

Les Seifer 9:49
to voice activation? Yeah. Well, you know, of course we have our echo device in our living room. We have a smart TV. You know, my car, I can talk to my car now when I’m driving. It’s It’s become a much more integral part of, of my life. And I think most people’s lives at this point, you just kind of it’s any way you can make things just easier, more efficient, more natural to what you’re doing. In the moment, it was always awkward if you’re driving, and you have to like pull a phone out and hit a button to call someone, it’s an emergency or whatever, ask for directions, it’s very awkward. So certain environments lend themselves really well to that type of thing. And you know, Echo, you could say anything to that my son uses it to do his homework, like, he’ll sit in the living room all day long. I just hear him say, Alexa, what is this plus this or what was the capital of this country or whatever. And the funny thing is, as he’s doing that, I’m quite aware that they’re accumulating all this data, and they’re gonna redirect something back at us related to what my son is saying to this thing. But it’s really funny, it’s evolved quite a bit.

Norbert Horvath 10:47
It’s interesting. It’s a DMP. I mean, from your vantage point, the targeting is of relevance. Attribution, therefore, is of relevance. Where do you see the role of the MPs and boys?

Les Seifer 10:59
I mean, I think so data sources are always changing. And that’s, I’d say, in our industry, like, the most volatile part of things seems to be like the data part, like how we target people, you know, just just right, as we speak, you know, we know there’s some seismic changes going on with cookies going away. And Apple with what’s called ID, what’s the ID called on the Apple devices, but anyway, IDFA. So all these things that seem like big challenges to like, how you target people, but there’s always something new that comes along. And I think, you know, with our own DMP, like we’re trying to capture all first party, third party data, anything you have, there’s automated content recognition, which is, it knows what you’re watching is based on, it could just knows all the content going live at any given time. And it knows that someone’s watching at that point, for better for worse. And I think that data will always change the data sources, how we get the data, but the one thing is consistent is you need to tie that back to your creative. And that’s, that’s always going to be the need at the end of the day. Because the user person at home getting it doesn’t know how you’re where they got your data from most people are mystified when they get an ad for something relevant. But I do think like younger, younger audiences are much more attuned to they’re kind of accustomed to getting something customized to them, you know, like more so like a targeted ad to them is great. Like, I don’t want an ad for something I’m not interested in. So I think that’s where things are just headed. Like no matter what, we’re gonna give them relevant ads, and then what do you do when you have them? What kind of story you’re gonna tell them at that point? And what device are they gonna be on you just tailored to that?

Charlie Cadbury 12:33
And so with that, with the kind of actionable TV ads, you know, we’ve been talking about this partnership, you know, what’s, what was exciting to you? And what was why? Why have you move forward with this and tell us a little bit about your,

Les Seifer 12:44
I’m very excited about this. It’s so we’ve been doing one of our biggest things is CTV ad sets, I would say, as a company, we’ve really focused on TV. There, as I mentioned earlier, there’s been a lack of universal ad specs for CTV, that have made it really challenging to do anything to interactive, and there’s no browser, you know, universal browser support. So the things you’re used to doing with interactive and engagement based ad models, you just can’t really do on CTV, or at least you haven’t been able to do very well. We have QR codes, which is like what’s old is new. Again, they’re all the rage. Now, we have our own custom QR code solution. And it’s great, we can brand them, we can animate them, we can do all kinds of functionality from it. But the end of the day, you’re going from a leanback viewing experience watching TV to go to pull up my phone and scan as quickly. It’s not the most natural form of engagement. So what I like about this is everybody, almost everybody has more and more, they have these smart speakers, they have some sort of voice activated device, in their environment as they’re watching. So why not take advantage of that it’s much more of a leanback experience. In my mind, it seems more natural, you just say a few words, like you would do all day anyway. So I like this feels like where things could be headed now where you’re taking advantage of other other devices and other screens and other things.

Charlie Cadbury 14:06
And the more excited about, you know, the creative applications, because it opens up the world of I’m extending the ad spot all more about the data, they get around attribution.

Les Seifer 14:16
Both I mean, so you know what, of course, what advertisers increasingly care about is they just want to measure everything. So attribution is super important to them. So I think that’s a really important element of this, if we just say we can do it, but we can show them exactly how people are engaging and how often it has no value to them. So that’s a super important back backend part of it, to me the user experience because I always like to think user first. So who is the person getting the ad? How are we going to make this like there’s always new technology that comes along, but how do you make it relevant and exciting for someone to get? We are also consumers of media and we also get ads. And people forget that in this industry. Sometimes they’re like, Oh, here’s a cool new technical thing. That means nothing to the person who’s gonna get this so I like to think of all Other possibilities, you’re gonna have this audio landing page, you could do anything with that. And I’m fairly new to this, you guys are experts, but from my eyes, that’s it just opens up a whole new world of way to engage with the brand.

Charlie Cadbury 15:12
And in terms of kind of the, the growth of this specific type of advertising what happened? You know, what, what do you predict this

Les Seifer 15:21
is all going. Just the voice activated?

Charlie Cadbury 15:23
Are you talking about that as a kind of a standard component in all in all these TV ads?

Les Seifer 15:29
Yeah, it’s hard to say, but I think, you know, we’re, I feel like we’re early with it. So right now we’re able to put it in, you know, we can produce these TV ads, or we can take an optimize, take an ad that already exists and add this kind of call to action on their, on this TV ad and have someone continue that experience on to the second screen. I have no idea because I think I think any smart TVs will have I’m gonna guess more voice interactivity like all them without having separate devices and maybe even more seamless experience. At that point. They may already have user information in the TV itself at that point, where people can, like engage so seamlessly between AD and content and

Norbert Horvath 16:09
whatever else. First speaker second Speaker Yeah,

Les Seifer 16:13
yeah. So that I, who knows, because, like I said, I don’t like predict, but I feel like that’s where it’s all headed.

Charlie Cadbury 16:19
Yeah. Well, I think that Amazon and Google kind of their dreams become reality, because often do you know, it’s all about ambient computing, and the expectation that you can talk back to any stimulus on any device? That’s right, and what you know, we’re trying to champion the future of this industry as well. And if you can give some advice to a college graduate who one day wants to sit in your seats, what would you advise them,

Les Seifer 16:42
I would say, don’t get into this industry. If you don’t like change number one, like it’s, it is seismic change multiple times a year, constantly. If you’re excited and energized by that, by all means jump on it. And like I have, and I haven’t turned back since then. Every one of my team, I’m blessed with an amazing team, who they’re all excited by change. So just know that about the industry before you get into it. And then I would say whatever you’re interested, is start low, learn everything you can like, honestly, if you’re into the creative element, you’re now new that it’s free start as a designer, or developer, creative developer learn, you know, why you’re building things, how that relates to the thing, above it to the thing above it, how that connects, you know, at EDC to a brand to a consumer. That’s a huge ecosystem. It’s very complex, filled with tons of terminology that mean nothing to most people. And I’m always learning and it’s always growing. But if you’re into that, I say, just start wherever you can jump in.

Charlie Cadbury 17:38
Awesome. And then in terms of you and your kind of viewing behavior, what do you do? What was what are you watching a

Les Seifer 17:47
lot of a lot of series, I don’t even watch movies anymore. I find like, movies feel so antiquated to me as a way of telling a story when you’re limited to maybe two hours to tell a story when you have these series that go on for the production value. So production values are huge now. So you know, like, Ozark. You know, I love these shows like this just series where if you can binge it great. And you know, if you can’t binge it, that’s fine, because it’s just kind of keeps you it’s a little bit old school. It’s like I remember last I think was like the first TV show where it was week to week and everybody was talking about this thing. It was just epic going on for

Charlie Cadbury 18:19
series for psychos over the years and I was still cut down

Les Seifer 18:23
to go binge that thing in like, two weeks span. Probably if you had the mind to do it

Norbert Horvath 18:27
Better Call Saul was torturing me.

Les Seifer 18:31
I’m all about Better Call Saul. So I have a limited time to watch TV. So we just pick and choose it’s usually series that we’re watching. But you know, occasionally nature shows or some random whatever is on there some news? I I can’t watch the news very much these days, but it’s occasionally that as well. Jake.

Charlie Cadbury 18:48
Fantastic. Well, thanks very much for carving some time out of your busy day. It’s been really great to chat. Oh, great talking to you. Yeah. Thank you.

Les Seifer 18:54
Appreciate it excited about the future.

Charlie Cadbury 18:58

Les Seifer 18:59
that was that. That’s great. I don’t think so. I hit all your questions.

Charlie Cadbury 19:04
I think so I think it’s getting there now.

Norbert Horvath 19:07
And I think that you you’re in touch and we didn’t want to talk about too too much because you don’t want to make this.