Product Advisory Board 2024

Stephen Byrne, VP Partnership Development at RTL AdAlliance on the PAB 2024 stage

Our clients constantly highlight our partnered approach to product development as one of the major advantages that sets us apart from our competitors. Giving them a seat at the table to directly influence our roadmap is invaluable to them, which is why they always look forward to our Product Advisory Board (PAB) event. Over the years, this event has evolved in format, content, and quality, but the goal remains unchanged — to share industry updates from across Europe, discuss current trends, and strategically align on our product roadmap. Let’s walk through the most recent edition of the event, which took place from June 3rd to 5th in Sassenheim-Leiden, to give you an idea of what our partnered approach looks like.

Developing a client-led product roadmap

Before the main PAB event, we hold a Round Table Committee (RTC) meeting with our clients to align on our product roadmap. The RTC meeting is the core of our true partnered approach, allowing clients to share their goals and challenges, discuss how our product can evolve to meet their needs and vote on priorities. Regardless of the company size, two representatives from each company are given a seat at the table. This ensures that every client has an equal voice and guarantees a fair process.

Updates from various European markets

Simone Branca, Head of Adtech & Data at Rai Pubblicità, speaking at PAB 2024 in Sassenheim-Leiden

Our clients and partners also take the stage during the main PAB event, to share updates from their various local markets. 

At PAB 2024, Marcel Korstjens, Domain Architect Advertising at RTL Nederland, discussed TV advertising trends in the Netherlands, including the transition from traditional Linear TV to Addressable TV. He highlighted some current challenges the market is facing and the need for standard agreements with distribution partners and technical suppliers. 

Simone Branca, Head of Adtech & Data at Rai Pubblicità, provided insights into the audience shares across all the platforms during the last edition of the Sanremo Festival — Italy’s most important entertainment event. 

From Germany, Dirk Ritters, Chief Revenue Officer at RTL Radio Deutschland, discussed the company’s goal of making radio ad inventory available for programmatic buying and selling, for both digital and broadcast. 

Tim Nieland, General Director Product & Price at Ad Alliance DE, spoke about the shift in Linear TV and video ad buying towards more digital pricing models, such as CPM,  and the technical infrastructure Ad Alliance DE is putting in place to enable a cross-media TV/video offering by 2026.

Company and product updates from smartclip

Thomas Servatius, Co-CEO at smartclip, speaking at PAB 2024 in Sassenheim-Leiden

Our company and products are constantly advancing and with our major clients and partners in one room, PAB presents a perfect opportunity to discuss these changes as well as what we have in the pipeline. Thomas Servatius, Co-CEO at smartclip shared updates on our key product releases since the last PAB in November 2023. He also spoke about our growing team in France and our recently announced changes to the leadership team with Gloria Eichler becoming our Chief Product Officer. 

Gloria Eichler also took the PAB stage to present our latest product strategy. She outlined our plans to introduce new products that will increase inventory and campaign performance while improving efficiency and optimising user workflows. She also emphasised our aim to provide advanced audience and identity solutions that go beyond meeting privacy regulations. 

Frank Plähn, VP Audience Products at smartclip, presented new and upcoming features of our smart ID Hub, including the support various identifiers, ID management within smartx, ID-based features, and privacy-focused initiatives. 

Ricarda Jebsen, Managing Director at Virtual Minds joined Thomas Servatius, to discuss our new adtech collaboration, and Martin Hoberg, Chief International Adtech Officer at RTL Deutschland went further to explain the background of the collaboration. Martin also highlighted the main goal — to create a holistic video advertising engine, uniting the digital and Linear TV ecosystem — and discussed the benefits of the collaboration for the European media industry. 

Guillaume Belmas, CEO at Realytics reported on the company’s award-winning BEE solution and its integration into smartx and other advertising technologies and platforms. He then outlined plans to integrate the BEE solution into more CTV inventories and partner with other DSPs, ad servers, and major streaming platforms. 

We also learned about the latest developments at RTL AdAlliance from Dr. Oliver Vesper, Deputy CEO / CDO, and Pieter van den Bergh, VP Product & Advanced Solutions. They discussed the steps the company is taking to secure its position as the go-to place for European Broadcast and premium video, including creating simple and unified products around its European video marketplace such as Smart Audiences and the launch of its Media Collections.

Mariana Berezin, Head of Product Education at smartclip, presenting a smartclip Academy award to Heinrich von Hoessle, Director (Advanced TV Products) at SevenOne Media during PAB 2024 in Sassenheim-Leiden
Mariana Berezin, Head of Product Education at smartclip, presenting a smartclip Academy award to Heinrich von Hoessle, Director (Advanced TV Products) at SevenOne Media during PAB 2024 in Sassenheim-Leiden

We not only heard from PAB regulars but also welcomed Mariana Berezin, Head of Product Education at smartclip. She introduced the smartclip Academy — a one-stop shop for smartx and adtech knowledge — and surprised our guests by presenting awards to some dedicated smartclip Academy users.

Keeping sustainability at the forefront of our industry

At this year’s PAB panel session, we focused on sustainability, a crucial yet historically underemphasised topic in our industry. Moderated by Stephen Byrne, VP Partnership Development at RTL AdAlliance, the panel included Charles-Edouard Monier, Head of Strategic Planning and Ad Tech at RTL Nederland; Gloria Eichler, CPO at smartclip; Guillaume Belmas, CEO at Realytics; and Nicole Ferguson, Managing Director Growth at GroupM. They discussed the current state of sustainability in the advertising industry from a supply, demand, and tech perspective. They also explored the unique responsibilities broadcasters have in promoting sustainability within the industry, how consumer expectations around sustainability influence advertising strategies, the lack of sustainability standards and how the industry can work together to establish them, as well as other critical issues.

Keynote from Ben Keen

Ben Keen, Independent Analyst, Board-level Advisor/Non-Executive Director & Investor, Technology, Media, & Telecoms, speaking at PAB 2024 in Sassenheim-Leiden

We constantly strive to bring expert viewpoints on the future of TV and online advertising to each PAB event. This year, we invited Ben Keen — an independent analyst and board-level advisor with over 30 years of experience in technology, media, and telecoms — to share his perspective on the shifting dynamics in the streaming industry post-pandemic. He discussed the economic pressures affecting major media companies and the challenges of the “walled garden” strategy, which leads to high costs and complexity. He also noted the industry’s pivot to hybrid ad-supported models and the enduring profitability challenges. He then explained the strategies required to prioritise profitability and adapt to the new realities of the market, highlighting the need for European Broadcasters to collaborate more closely not just to overcome the current challenges but to pioneer innovation on a global scale.

Diving deeper into key topics

From left to right: Robert Scharni, Growth Product Director at smartclip, Gloria Eichler, Chief Product Officer at smartclip, and Frank Plähn, VP Audience Products at smartclip, speaking at PAB 2024 in Sassenheim-Leiden

Towards the end of the event, we hold break-out sessions for attendees to explore topics in smaller groups. This year, Frank Plähn discussed the impact of data in TV advertising, explaining the scope and sources of TV data and the suite of targeting tools in smartx, including the Target Audience Mapper, the Segment Builder, and our brand new smart TV Targeting solution based on HBBTV consumption and TV panel data.

Gloria Eichler covered the latest on our ad serving strategy, highlighting four key smartx ad server features. These include Priority on Site, which ensures that ad delivery meets strategic goals through defined priorities; Automated KPI Optimisation to automatically enhance campaign performance based on specific KPIs; ATV Pacing to balance ad delivery throughout the day, particularly during prime times; and Bid Prediction to optimise programmatic bid rates by reducing the volume of outgoing bids while maintaining incoming bid levels.

Robert Scharni, Growth Product Director at smartclip, discussed the growing opportunities audio presents for advertisers due to increasing digital audio listenership, contrasting with declining TV viewership. He also spoke about the key challenges in audio advertising and presented smartclip’s format-agnostic, privacy-first, and easy-to-implement audio ad-serving solution.

Exploring Leiden and expanding networks

During each PAB event, we create opportunities for the attendees to network while experiencing the unique charm of our host city. PAB 2024 took us to Sassenheim — a border town of Leiden, where we enjoyed an evening at the beach. Starting with a relaxing Borrelboat Tour through the canals of Leiden, we made our way to Strandclub Witsand Noordwijk to unwind and talk more over dinner and drinks. While at the beach bar, some of our guests took their conversations to new ‘heights’ on the Ferris wheel and got a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Leiden.

We are delighted to have co-hosted PAB 2024 with our friends at RTL Nederland and their sales house AdAlliance Netherlands, and we can’t wait to bring everyone together again at PAB 2025 in Vienna, continuing our tradition of true collaboration with our clients and partners.

Shira Leffel

Shira Leffel is the VP of Marketing & Product Education and is responsible for leading the central European marketing and product education department at smartclip. She has lived and worked in the United States, Canada, Israel, Mozambique, Brazil, and now Germany. Shira comes with extensive experience in marketing for B2B technology startups. She has built out marketing teams and strategies—her core expertise lies in content strategy, most notably inbound content marketing. Shira graduated Summa Cum Laude and First in Class with an M.A. from Tel Aviv University, and First Class Honours with a B.A. from the University of British Columbia.

Shira Leffel
VP Marketing & Product Education

Portrait of Dikachi Chizim content marketing manager at smartclip

Dikachi is the Content Marketing Manager at smartclip and is responsible for coordinating, curating, and crafting our digital content offerings across Europe. With an MBA from TU Freiberg, Dikachi has over six years of experience helping B2B and B2C companies in Europe and the United States scale their content marketing strategies.

Dikachi Chizim
Content Marketing Manager Europe