December 3, 2021
December 1, 2021

Meet Craig Mytton: Spaceback's Head of Global Partnerships

Craig Mytton

Spaceback is the global leader in Social Display. We have a strong U.S. and international presence working with leading brands around the world. With our international headquarters in London, we work with 500 companies across 80 countries. Craig Mytton spearheads our work outside of the U.S., and we wanted to highlight the international side of Spaceback by interviewing him. 

Tell us a bit about your previous roles and the companies you’ve worked for.

I have worked within media for over 20 years and have held a number of roles across the advertising ecosystem. Initially, I worked for large publishing groups (Haymarket and DMGT). I then moved to the agency side, which is when I ran the search department for Mediacom, and then built the programmatic team at Essence before moving into ad tech. Initially, as one of the first people at AppNexus (Xandr) in Europe, I ran the DSP and SSP partnerships across EMEA. After my time at AppNexus, I ran Rubicon Project’s (Magnite) international buy side business, overseeing all relationships outside of the domestic U.S. 

As a result, my experience covers many different advertising channels: Traditional magazine advertising, paid search, SEO, affiliates, social, programmatic, OOH and DOOH. 

With this diverse background, I hope that I have a fairly good understanding of the advertising market and how it all works and fits together.

How have you seen the industry change over your career?

The growth of Internet advertising has been the most significant thing I have witnessed. The introduction of paid search (Google didn’t exist in the U.K. when I started ☺), programmatic and social have all significantly changed how advertisers take their products to market. Through these channels, advertisers have been able to take greater control over their advertising budgets, deciding when, where, and how they advertise. Most significantly, online advertising has given advertisers the ability to calculate linear ROI for their advertising spend (something which is very difficult to do in traditional advertising channels).

Why did you decide to join Spaceback?

Spaceback offers something new within digital advertising.

The creative format is unique in that it allows advertisers to bridge the gap between social and display. When you consider there has been very little development within online display creative over the past five years, Spaceback offers a great opportunity, especially at a time when online advertising is experiencing some challenges around data targeting, cookie deprecation, and increased CPCs within Social. Spaceback helps to address all of these issues.

And we also have a great team. Having worked with the leadership team previously, and for a number of startups, I could see the opportunity ahead of us. When the opportunity arose to launch the international operations, I jumped at the chance, and I have no regrets.

It’s been great to witness the growth we’ve achieved over the past 12 months – (the Zoom calls have a lot more people on them now). Both agencies and clients are getting great results from working with us, so the business is showing no signs of slowing down. 

What pain points does Social Display solve?

I think the important thing to say is that within Social Display, not all providers are equal. But from Spaceback’s perspective we have seen the following…

  • It makes it very easy for a brand to provide consistent brand messaging across two of the main “digital” advertising channels (Social and Display). 
  • From case studies, we have seen that this consistent messaging results in a “halo effect” for advertisers. The combined messaging outperforms previous campaigns where the creative was different in each of these channels.
  • We have also seen that the creative can help to combat banner blindness – resulting in higher click through rates for advertisers (which is also delivering higher ROI than traditional advertising creative).
  • Speed of creative production – within Spaceback, we can build a banner in less than 30 seconds. For clients who have had challenges with finding creative assets, or where their creative production takes a long time – Spaceback’s social display creative could be a great option.

What are the main reasons brands and agencies within the international market want to use Social Display?

Social Display is used generally for a number of reasons. Here are the primary ones:

1. Advertisers want to improve the performance of their current online display activity.

The great thing here is that we’ve seen our Social Display format improve both brand and performance metrics for a number of advertisers. Our click through rates and engagements are significantly higher than standard units, and we also have a number of case studies where both sales volumes and ROI/ROAS have improved.

2. Advertisers want to run Social Extension activity. 

In situations where advertisers have maximised their Social Activity, and they can no longer drive cost effective performance within this channel, they need to look at alternative ways to use this content. Spaceback offers them the opportunity to do this. We can take their best content within social and allow them to deliver this across the wider internet (and where they can leverage their own data and targeting offered within their DSP).

3. For cost effective Creative Production.

If advertisers don’t have banners and don’t have the budget to build creative, Spaceback is a great alternative. We can build the creative from any social post, and our commercial model means you’re only charged when this is used as part of a live campaign execution.

How has the international response been to Social Display?

The response has been great. We have only been actively selling in the market for 14 months, and during that time we have managed to sign a global deal with Havas and European agreements with two other agency groups.

We have activated campaigns across Europe, APAC, LATAM, and Africa for brands including LifeMiles, Fox Sports, Mitsubishi, Levi's, Pizza Hut, Sam's Club, BanBajío, Puma, UGG, Anytime Fitness, Oral-B, Hendricks Gin, Volvo, and Cetaphil.

Looking forward over the next few years, what do you see as industry challenges on the horizon?

The major challenge which will face the industry in the next few years is around cookies and what advertisers will do to replace them. At the moment, there are a number of alternatives in the market, but the industry has not yet decided on which is going to be the best one.

As a result, I expect it will take a couple of years for this to play out, and in the end I can see a situation where there is not one universal replacement. I think you will end up with a pool of two or three suppliers, and advertisers will choose which one to use depending on where and how they are running their campaign.

But, these challenges are also an opportunity. We could see a situation where data and targeting become more difficult, which means that creative would become a lot more important.

So it will be very important that advertisers are using the best creative they can, and we know that Social Display delivers significant improvements in the CTR and ROI. I would hope that most advertisers will be using a Social Display creative in all of their activations over the coming years.

How about CTV?

CTV is the hot topic at the moment. There is a lot of buzz in the market, and there is no doubt that this is and will be a very big opportunity.

But one thing to consider is that the CTV opportunity is very different in different markets. For example, in the U.K., most CTV is pre-roll from the main terrestrial providers, and it is predominately sold on a direct IO basis. 

But, this is different across other international markets, and there is also the potential for this to blow up should Amazon or Netflix change their commercial model, and they are starting to explore this. For example, it will be very interesting to see how Amazon progresses with IMDB TV.

With this in mind, I think that CTV is an important channel for advertisers and advertising technology. This also means it’s important for Social Display, especially when you consider the amount of new social content that is video (TikTok).

As a result, at Spaceback we are currently working on this and will soon be able to offer social content as VAST tags to be used in any pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll activations.

Is there anything else you are noticing that you think will be an area of focus over the next couple of years that is unique to the international markets?

I don’t think there is anything that is specifically unique to international markets as now more than ever we are part of a global advertising ecosystem. 

However, there are some things which affect international markets more than those in the U.S. I think GDPR has probably been the biggest example of this in recent times as we saw a number of U.S. providers pull out of the international market when this was implemented as their data was non-compliant, where as some businesses built solutions to address this with an international focus.

With this in mind, and post Brexit and with the rumours around Frexit and Polexit, we may see new things come into the market which could have a direct effect on international markets, but not to get too distracted and worry about "what if's" and instead just continue to build a robust business, and deal with them as and when they happen.

What do you think the future of advertising will look like in the next five years?

Five years is a long time, so there may be new things that come into the market which could create completely new opportunities (like Google and paid search in 2001). For example, it will be interesting to see what the “metaverse” looks like. 

I remember when Second Life first launched, and a number of advertisers thought it would be the next big thing… it wasn’t. They didn’t have the backing of Facebook and the current user base that they have, so I think the metaverse has a better opportunity of being successful. But, there’s more to be learned about what this will look like and how it will work. If I were an advertiser, I would be keeping an eye on it as I think it will be an interesting opportunity.

Then outside of this, I don’t think we will see many other significant changes. The core advertising channels will continue to exist; people will still advertise on TV, radio and OOH for branding and on paid search, social and online for performance (or maybe a bit of both). However, how this is implemented will continue to change and become more automated and delivered in real time. For example, there is currently a lot of Interest in programmatic DOOH, which I think will see significant growth over the next 24 months (which could also be another opportunity for Social Display, so watch this space!).

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