By Qin Shi Tee
Growing up in New Zealand, Laura Quigley dreamt of flying among the clouds and across the globe. Today she is an influential figure in the advertisement technology industry.
Currently the senior vice president of Integral Ad Science (IAS) in the Asia Pacific (APAC) division, Quigley leads the publisher solutions regional expansion efforts within the company. Admittedly, her journey of climbing the corporate ladder has been a long and enlightening one.
Inspirational figures and influences
Growing up, Quigley aspired to be an air hostess, a dream shaped by wanderlust and a desire to don on stunning uniforms and interact with people from all walks of life. While this dream never materialized, the draw of engaging with individuals from a diverse range of cultures stuck with her.
Quigley first forayed into the media industry, with three summers spent working at a radio channel. She reminisces fondly, “I found it to be glamorous, spunky and rather appealing. That was probably the time I fell in love with the media.” Post-university, she worked at Māori Television, a station which worked to revitalise Māori language and culture through its programs. Here, she not only gained a greater understanding of Māori language and culture, but also ventured into advertising and media. And she has never looked back since then, in what has been a journey full of exciting projects and even lifetime friendships.
She recounts that her parents have served as her biggest inspiration. Their hardworking and driven nature deeply embedded the value of diligence and the drive to succeed in her. Despite academic struggles during her time in university, she was unfazed and even more motivated to strive for her goals. She invested more time and effort in her studies and remained committed to her education, allowing her to become the first university graduate in her family. Overcoming these obstacles enabled her to carve out a path of her own.
In addition to her parents, two notable female leaders in her workplace have also greatly inspired her – Donna Gurney, her first boss at NZME, and Natalie Vose – to step out of her comfort zone and encourage the team to continually outdo themselves. It is these inspirational figures who shaped her journey from an individual contributor in IAS Australia to where she is today, taking on bigger roles of managing South East Asia and the wider APAC.
Workplace Gender Parity
The unprecedented digital transformation over the last decade and the growing change in attitudes surrounding traditional working methods has been a great boon says Quigley. With more flexible work arrangements such as working from home, online meetings, reduced commute getting normalized and accepted, women are finally getting what they have been seeking all along. “The rapid technological transformation will open up a plethora of opportunities for women,” she believes.
Quigley highlights IAS as a great example of an equal opportunity employer, as she has never felt that she was treated differently from her male colleagues. The numbers tell the same story – at all levels, IAS employs 56% men and 44% women, and continues to challenge themselves to reach a balanced ratio by the end of this year through its gender equity initiative.
When asked about the importance of gender parity in the workplace, Quigley states, “According to the McKinsey report, advancing women’s equality in the countries of Asia Pacific could add $4.5 trillion to their collective annual GDP by 2025, a 12 percent increase over the business-as-usual trajectory.” She agrees that gender equality serves as a powerful engine of global growth, and pursuing it as a workplace goal can lift many more women out of poverty, unleash the economic potential of many others and reinforce the region’s dynamic growth.
Given that the world’s economic centre of gravity is shifting steadily towards Asia, it is particularly crucial to develop qualified female leadership in the region. Therefore, Quigley suggests that Asian businesses should find ways to retain a larger proportion of young female employees, long enough to break the glass ceiling and ultimately be channeled to take on prominent leadership roles. In order to achieve this standard of gender parity, Asia needs to level the playing field for its female workers. “Technology will become a great enabler (in doing so)”, Quigley muses.
Future of Adtech
With challenges posed by the pandemic last year, operational efficiency has become more imperative, expediting the drive for automation. In the media industry, the pressure of lockdowns has witnessed this change, manifesting as an increased reliance on programmatic media purchasing which facilitated automation, shifting away from direct, IO based bookings. Given the losses borne by businesses in 2020, Quigley emphasizes that this is a year of efficiency underpinned by automation. With less workers, adtech vendors will have to utilize existing buying platforms to avoid the risk of generating high operational costs for partners to deploy.
Frost and Sullivan’s research demonstrates that companies are increasingly recognising the business and operational advantages of automating business processes like data capture – primarily, higher productivity that leads to higher revenues. In a recent survey, 72% of almost 2,000 global IT decision makers have already invested in technology to drive and improve enterprise content and business process management in their attempts to lower operational costs, as well as improve customer experience and digital presence. Through automating key processes and utilizing AI and machine learning to increase the speed, accuracy and cost-effectiveness of their business operations, corporations can not only enhance the customer experience, but also motivate employee productivity.
Adtech is evolving quickly, with technology paving the way for a more transparent and measurable digital marketing ecosystem to ensure that campaigns reach out to the right audiences. Employing ad verification to ensure campaigns remain fraud-free, viewable and brand safe has become the minimum standard. Marketers will utilize measurement technology to focus on ad spend wastage, measuring the economic impact of campaigns and driving consumer engagement. Quigley comments that this is especially true for platforms including CTV/OTT and social environments, where advertisers are searching for even better ad verification.
Quigley affirms that advanced verification solutions powered by AI and machine learning will become mainstream. These developments will benefit all stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem – publishers can better monetize their content and generate more revenue, agencies will launch more effective and efficient marketing strategies, while brands can better understand consumer impact of their campaigns.
Privacy and Targeted Ads
Privacy has become a universally essential consideration for consumers, companies and governments all over the world. In an IAS Consumer Privacy Study, 70% of Australian consumers have been found to proactively limit data collection when online, and the industry has progressively shifted to comply with privacy regulations. Presently, there will be heightened scrutiny regarding data collection for advertising, and the usefulness of data is constrained with the death of cookies. Quigley notes a pressing concern, “If you have all this data about the individual, but no way to activate that data in digital environments, you might be better off not having it at all.”
As a result, there is greater dependence on contextual targeting as a proxy for audience data. “Contextual targeting has become more sophisticated than ever before,” Quigley points out. With cutting edge technological advancements, we can now determine the sentiment and emotion of an article, interpreting its content just as a human would. Given these increased capacities, more advertisers are likely to leverage on both context targeting and avoidance to drive additional value and increased alignment in their digital marketing. As such, advertisers are starting to replace audience data with contextual intelligence, rather than supporting laborious data management and privacy regulations that accompany outdated methods of capturing and leaving personally identifiable data.