Day in the Life: Alex Balanza, Demand Facilitation
Alex, senior account director of Agency Development at Magnite, takes us through a typical day in his life on the Demand Facilitation team.
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 platform.
How would you explain what you do to someone outside the industry?
When explaining media to someone outside of the industry, I broadly state that media keeps the internet free 🙂 All joking aside:
The analogy I like to use when explaining Magnite is a reservoir, “a source of something,” and its dependence on tunneling/pipeline infrastructure to get water (media) to a community of citizens (advertisers and its end consumers) in the most efficient way possible.
The Demand Facilitation Agency Development (DFAD) team facilitates advertiser demand to media supply that Magnite powers programmatically – a long way of saying Magnite is a supply-side platform (SSP).
My main role is to collaborate with our large media buying agencies and “facilitate” their ad spend (demand) to publishers that Magnite powers. This creates a centralized marketplace for sellers and buyers to trade. I consult ad agencies who buy media and use insights that Magnite can provide by knowing the source of media supply — a look under the hood, if you would.
How did you first break into ad tech?
I attended New Mexico State University (I’m a transplant from California), where I signed up for the business school. I selected marketing as my major and aspired to play golf on the university’s club team (I’m glad media worked out for me). Upon graduation, my sister lived in New York City and worked at a Mall Media publisher, EyeCorp (sell-side). She naturally had friends who also worked in the New York media agency (buyer) scene, including one friend who worked at GroupM (the ad agency I work with today).
Through that friend, I received an opportunity to interview at GroupM. The person who interviewed and offered me my first job in media became a good friend, which speaks to the significance of relationships we build in our industry (I attended his wedding and golf with him regularly). That was my entry into media.
A handful of years later, being on the agency buy side resulted in jumping around between agencies before ending up at Magnite to explore sales, where I was hungry to learn the publisher/ad tech side of the business.
That story speaks to the relationships I build, the people I collaborate with, and why interacting with people in my role is so important.
How does your department/team help support Magnite/Magnite’s clients as a whole? What other departments do you facilitate with the most?
Demand Facilitation (DF) sources ad spend for our publisher clients – specifically, we work with programmatic buyers/traders, which is usually an untapped revenue stream for publishers operating in a more transactional managed service business model. Additionally, DF collaborates with brand advertisers directly and smaller market/independent media buying agencies that could go without service by some publisher sales teams.
Externally – on a daily basis we talk with programmatic buyers/traders. By understanding an advertiser’s needs, we work with them to customize supply sources by leaning on our insights to help accomplish campaign goals more effectively.
Internally – we have our support teams, account services, media planning, DSP support and ad operations. Also, we work with strategic partnerships, data providers, measurement companies or special creative offerings. DF leverages our supply and all these value propositions to better serve a client’s media goals/KPIs. Our joint effort keeps everything afloat.
More broadly, DF and its support teams only speak to half of Magnite’s business. The demand/sales DF facilitates to our publishers’ clients could directly influence the publisher (seller) side of Magnite. The publisher teams keep DF abreast of new supply regularly. DF can then sell that supply, thus, directly influencing publisher revenue and vice versa (supply and demand economics). Hence, the importance of our internal teams collaborating and communicating often.
What does a typical day at Magnite look like for you?
Every day is different, and it keeps me on my toes.
My day starts with prospecting media agencies’ clients who buy from Magnite. It’s paramount to stay in front of my clients, whether that’s presenting in their offices, on video calls or through social entertainment. Beginning of the week, I’m building off the prior week’s prospecting and networking. Then, I’m setting up calls with new prospective clients to uncover (facilitate) new demand.
Throughout my morning, there is a lot of collaboration on accounts, servicing those that are already active. We have internal meetings throughout the week and business reviews of various accounts. Then, it’s 5 p.m., and the sellers entertain clients (dinners, team outings, industry events), further building rapport and trust. This creates a platform to collaborate with our buyers more organically, staying relevant and top of mind.
DF is in-market building relationships and connecting people — by understanding people’s quirks that make them human, we can better service accounts and anticipate business decisions. New York’s media scene is social and fun. We attend industry events and conferences, ensuring we have a presence and a pulse on the market – all while building up the Magnite brand. After entertaining clients and the end-of-week business call wrap up, I’m back in on Monday doing it all over again — building momentum for the next opportunity.
Talk about a recent project you’re proud of yourself/your team for accomplishing.
Individually, the go-to-market strategy for our work with GroupM on the GroupM Premium Marketplace has been really exciting. For two companies to share a mutual interest, be in the same room and get on the same page is what it’s all about — the positive reception from the buy-side is the most rewarding thing I’ve seen in my entire career and to do it at the scale we’re producing is remarkable.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being an extrovert, it’s all about collaboration. My job enables me to communicate with people, and Magnite empowers me to provide real solutions. The reward of seeing a client do well because they use one of Magnite’s offerings is the most joyous thing.
Internally at Magnite, my team has built a true culture and identity. We talk, have fun, and see each other’s emotions in real life. We’re all individuals working on our own books of business with our own clientele. But we’ve come together and built something special and the industry is taking notice. We have a “core” to build off of, and the horizon is bright.
Do you have any advice for people looking to learn more about ad tech/your particular department?
Be genuinely curious and soak it all in like a dry sponge. Take an opportunity to work for a company you can learn from, building upon prior knowledge to provide value to others. Don’t stop learning, and welcome tough feedback. If you want to learn supply and technology, Magnite has you covered. If you want to understand the dynamics of the media buying industry, DFAD has you covered. Streaming has changed the media landscape. Media evolves rapidly – you’ll be surprised at what you can learn once you just jump in.
Whether you come from finance, fashion, or whatever walk of life – it’s OK to be a learner in ad tech.