Magnite Ajey Venkataraman

Day in the Life: Ajey Venkataraman, Data Scientist

Magnite Team

April 30, 2024 | 6 min read

Ajey, one of our Data Scientists, takes us through a typical day in his life in Magnite’s Los Angeles office.

Magnite’s Day in the Life series dives into the various people and teams that make up the world’s largest independent sell-side ad company.

How would you explain what you do to someone outside the industry?

I work as a Data Scientist at Magnite, where my responsibilities involve developing and implementing statistical and machine-learning models to optimize various aspects of online advertising. My role involves using sophisticated algorithms to ensure that advertisements on the open internet are delivered to the right audience in an efficient and appropriately priced manner. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness of the ads, thereby increasing revenue for our clients and improving the overall user experience on various digital platforms.

How did you first break into ad tech?

My background is in academia. As an engineering PhD, my interest in data science grew, steering me toward industry applications where I could tackle complex, real-world problems. As I explored various sectors, I discovered that ad tech, particularly in areas like real-time bidding, was filled with interesting technical challenges that required advanced analytical skills. I also noticed that ad tech has attracted many people with PhDs in quantitative fields. This observation reassured me that ad tech could be an excellent fit for my skills and background, leading me to pursue a career where I could contribute meaningfully and continue my professional growth.

How does your department help support Magnite and Magnite’s clients as a whole? What other departments do you facilitate with the most?

I’m part of a collaborative ecosystem that works in tandem with multiple teams, most notably Product and Engineering. Our interaction with the Product team is pivotal: we brainstorm innovative ideas to elevate revenue, enhance efficiency, and cut costs. Additionally, our team works alongside the Revenue Operations team to troubleshoot performance issues. Our proficiency with data makes us particularly adept at diagnosing and resolving these challenges, ensuring optimal performance and client satisfaction. 

We also interact with the Sales team, albeit less frequently. These exchanges are invaluable for gaining direct insights into our clients’ needs, which, in turn, informs the development of tailored algorithmic solutions. On occasion, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with clients directly, which is enlightening and allows us to fine-tune our algorithms to serve their unique requirements better. 

What does a typical day at Magnite look like for you?

My day starts by reviewing various performance metrics of the products we manage, which sets the tone for my daily objectives. Throughout the day, I converse with colleagues from different departments, such as Product and Engineering, to align our goals and ensure our strategies are cohesive and effective. A substantial part of my time is dedicated to deep data analysis and exploration, where I delve into datasets to explore ways to refine our algorithms and enhance their performance.

I also take pride in visualizing our data in innovative and insightful ways, creating plots and visual representations that not only shed light on our findings but also facilitate clear and impactful communication with other members of the organization. These visual tools often serve as a bridge, turning complex data into actionable insights for various teams.

Talk about a recent project that you’re proud of yourself/your team for accomplishing.

One of the projects I’m particularly proud of involved my team and me working on implementing advanced statistical algorithms to optimize the settings for our Demand Manager customers. Specifically, we focused on enhancing our publishers’ timeout setups and bidder configurations. Given the complexity and significance of the problem, this was a massive undertaking. It required extensive collaboration across multiple teams to ensure the precision and effectiveness of our solutions. The results of this project have been very encouraging, and the feedback from our publisher clients has been overwhelmingly positive. They are excited about the improvements and eagerly anticipate further enhancements. This project demonstrated our team’s technical capabilities and underscored our commitment to delivering real value to our clients. As a bonus, the press picked up this work. 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

What I find most rewarding and exciting about my position as a Data Scientist at Magnite is the constant opportunity to tackle technically challenging problems. Every day, I’m involved in conducting experiments that push the boundaries of what we can achieve with current technology and could lead to exciting, impactful outcomes. This role allows me to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies, including AI, and leverage these advanced tools to solve real-world problems effectively. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the tangible results of our work as we continue to innovate and enhance how digital advertising operates. But beyond the cutting-edge aspects, the tangible results of increasing efficiency and profitability for the company truly underscore the value of my work. It’s not just about solving complex problems — it’s also about driving success and seeing the real-world benefits of the solutions my team and I develop.

It’s also about the people. I cannot understate the joy and fulfillment of working with a team of cool, passionate, and intelligent individuals. My colleagues aren’t just committed to excellence and delivering outstanding products; they’re also genuinely fun to work with and deeply care about each other’s well-being. This camaraderie and shared drive make every achievement that much more rewarding.

Do you have any advice for people looking to learn more about ad tech/your particular department?

For those keen on exploring ad tech, especially within data science, it’s essential to cultivate a robust foundation in statistics and programming. Equally important is gaining hands-on experience through internships or project work, which applies theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. Given the field’s rapid evolution, it’s crucial to remain actively informed about the latest industry trends and challenges through journals and professional networks.

Additionally, technical expertise is only part of the equation. Hence, developing strong communication and interpersonal skills is invaluable. Being a data scientist involves frequent interactions with individuals from various backgrounds, so the ability to clearly convey complex information is extremely useful. Furthermore, ad tech is a domain that’s constantly changing, so staying on top of new technologies and methodologies by engaging with industry literature (in the form of news articles, blog posts, and academic publications) is beneficial. Cultivating these skills will help you perform your job effectively and excel in shaping the future of ad tech.

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