Sean Buckley: The importance of Magnite making the trip to Cannes each year


Plus: What’s next for the BVOD sector

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is underway for 2023, bringing together those that work in creative communications and advertising from every corner of the planet. 

Mediaweek is on location in the South of France, chatting to some of the most influential people in both Australian and global media. Today is Sean Buckley, CRO of Magnite.

Magnite logo

With so many moving parts to what Magnite does, Buckley says that when he has to give the elevator pitch, he always thinks about how he would explain the company to family over Thanksgiving dinner. The bottom line, he says, is that “We build technology and enable media owners to manage their advertising business.”

“We have this really sophisticated connected television business, but we’re also the market leader in the other major formats like display and an OLV. Those businesses look a little different, but we have core competencies in those as well. 

“To look at the company from an omnichannel perspective, I think we stand out very well in a very unique capacity. To have the depth of understanding of the customer that we have across all these businesses, I think is very important.”

Magnite in Cannes

For Magnite, Cannes is a major event on the calendar. Buckley goes so far as to say that “it’s one of, if not the most important event for us every year.”

“There’s a joke about how half the people you meet with are in New York, so how come you can’t just meet with them in New York? The reality is there is a difference – especially in this day and age – in getting all of the decision-makers in one place where we sit down for a meeting. 

While we make progress throughout the year, Cannes meetings allow us to really move things forward in an exponential capacity, just because of who’s here, the ability to do so many meetings in such a condensed period of time, and to have key decision makers in the vast majority of those meetings. It’s a really powerful combination, and that’s why we invest so heavily.”

You can find Magnite set up in Cannes’ Yacht Row, on one of the boats moored in Jetée Albert Edouard. As chief revenue officer, Buckley says that the boats offer more than just a good time on the water.

“This is my second year on the boat. I’m sure there’s a branding aspect to it, but I also think it allows us to host lots of different meetings simultaneously, which is helpful.”

On the ground (or on the water), there are a number of trends that Buckley says have captured people’s attention – the first being the somewhat nebulous idea that it’s time to “fix the internet.”

“There are a lot of things you can cite when you say fix the internet. Generally speaking from an advertising perspective, there’s the signal loss, the upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies and Chrome – it’s a pretty seismic shift in the industry that’s already underway, and is likely to get more dramatic. There’s also the trade-off, of the value proposition to consumers and all the privacy concerns. 

“The industry is in the middle of a pretty substantial change, which is exciting, but at the same time brings with it quite a few challenges. It’s on us and a lot of the constituents here to help navigate that, and get to the other get to the other side successfully.”

There are also some major topics coming up again and again outside of the web.

The CTV business and streaming continue to be huge topics here,” says Buckley. “It’s so clear that that’s the future of television at this point, it’s basically a preconceived notion. So all of the companies, including the companies that still operate heavily in the traditional television business, are just laser-focused on what the future of streaming – in particular streaming advertising – will look like. Clearly, ad-supported streaming is the growth engine of the streaming business.

“I think sustainability will continue to be a big discussion. Individual companies will continue to do a lot, and obviously, we’re focused on how we can reduce our carbon footprint as a company. But I think in certain areas of the market, there’s a pretty sizable amount of unnecessary duplication. It’s not uncommon for publishers in that market to use 15+ SSPs – and there are economic reasons why publishers are compelled to structure things that way, but we’re already seeing that start to change with supply path optimization and consolidation initiatives from the buy side, which is really where it has to be driven from.”

Looking Ahead

Working closely with the BVOD sector, Buckley says that the future of the industry is tied up in data and what people do with it. 

Where data is activated looks a lot different in streaming than it does in other areas of the market. So for example, it’s very common for media owners – that could be the OEMs, that could be major media companies and broadcasters – to be choosing to activate their data on the supply side. 

“We’re saying, hey, we have this really valuable first-party data, we want to activate it from an advertising perspective, but we have a lot of concerns and take a lot of caution around where that data is sent and how it’s used. To maximise the control, we’re seeing that data increasingly onboarding and activated on the supply side.”

When asked what Magnite is hoping to offer into the future, and what areas of growth the team are focused on, ​​Buckley says that it’s all about listening to the customer.

“We’ve announced a lot in the last month or so. While we will continue to release new products, we also are very focused on successfully getting a product we’ve announced out to the market, and growing the adoption

“We’re trying to strike that balance of very consistently pushing the industry forward and releasing new innovation, but also paying very close attention to what we’re releasing, and ensuring that we continue to evolve those products based on what customers want and the feedback that they provide.”

As a prime example – earlier this week, Magnite announced that they will be broadening their ClearLine solution through wider adoption by streaming TV media owners and advertising agencies.

“The streaming world is much more consolidated than the web world, so one of the key components to any of these initiatives is media owner adoption.

“We’ve gotten the support from most of the major streaming services in the US – Warner Brothers Discovery, Disney, Dish, all of these years big players in the television streaming business endorse ClearLine.”

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