Last week, DeepIntent named Amit Chaturvedi as its first chief operating officer. Previously EVP of revenue operations and product at WarnerMedia, Chaturvedi spoke to MM+M about the role, his plans for bolstering company operations and his thoughts on changes in media consumption. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

MM+M: What ideas or strategies are you looking to pursue in your new role?

Chaturvedi: We’re looking at how we sustain this aggressive growth we’ve had while still delivering on client and partner expectations. How do we not take our foot off the gas and continue to be disruptive? 

Second, the company already has a legacy of product innovation. When you talk to our clients and partners and discuss programmatic, digital and specific advertising for the pharma industry, they’re talking about DeepIntent. We’re continuing that legacy of product innovation, but choices become harder as you grow. So how do we start to make decisions that consider the longer-term future company?

The third strategy is the superpower of team members. When the company has gone from 50 or 60 employees to more than 250 in just a couple of years, how do you harness the abilities of those team members? How do we leverage that and also bring newer team members into the fold, especially in the sort of post-COVID world? How do we make sure the culture continues to be strong?

Given the lingering challenges related to COVID and emerging issues related to monkeypox and the economic climate, how is DeepIntent positioned for obstacles ahead?

Pharma as an industry, historically, has been pretty recession-proof from a media and advertising standpoint. That being said, there’s a big talent crisis in biotech and pharma. It’s one of the most heavily invested areas from a VC standpoint. Generally, the trends that we saw over the last several months were, regardless of the fact that VC money has poured in hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 25 years, marketers are nervous. Additionally, employers are nervous and CFOs are starting to sharpen the pencils a little bit. 

Luckily, for DeepIntent the trajectory has been sort of phenomenal. We’re obviously being judicious in how capital gets deployed. We’re also hearing from our clients that there’s not not a degree of nervousness, I think people are just being cautious because of what they’re seeing in terms of the jobs report from last week or unemployment report. Some of these data points are conflicting and I don’t think economists fully understand what exactly is happening yet. Normally, when you go into a recessionary environment, there’s a bunch of signals that all light up simultaneously.

Consumers are starting to be more careful. During COVID there was this mad rush to CTV services, right? People started cutting cable at a faster clip and moving towards CTV-based content consumption. What the service providers did was drop prices. Now if you look across the board, every single CTV service provider has basically been increasing prices. At some point, you’re going to tap out. Research shows that consumers essentially don’t have an appetite for paying for more than four services. 

Consumers are starting to be more careful and the decision-makers, like employers and marketers, are consumers, too. Whatever happens in their personal lives starts impacting how they manage. We’re being cautious just like everybody else, but we’re not freaking out or anything. We’re being judicious.

Netflix and Disney+ are exploring the idea of introducing ad-tiered models for their services. What do you make of that potential opportunity for DeepIntent and other marketers?

Some consumers ended up using six to eight different streaming services over the course of the past couple of years and now they’re dialing back. Most of these media tech giants are realizing that trend. 

For you to grow your subscriber base at a fast clip, you don’t have any other choice other than to go down the advertising base path. There has been a peak in terms of subscriptions and now what’s going to end up happening is exactly what you see in the telecom wars. There are no more “new” customers to go after, which means now you have to competitively steal.

Hulu has been doing that for years. There is a free plan with advertising and there’s a paid plan with no advertising, and I think we’re going to see gradations of that. All that advertising is doing is subsidizing the distribution of the consumption of that content.

In CTV, there is a greater complexity in terms of number of endpoints and number of content providers. Marketers generally are going to want to look through a single lens to see how their media is performing. 

We’re sort of agnostic to what streaming service it is. We’ll plumb everywhere, as we have been doing. In the early days, there may be a vanity play in the sense that marketers always want to be first to launch. So when Netflix rolls out ads, the ROI on that type of solution may not be that great. But as the solution matures, the platform provider starts to sharpen their pencils.

Are there any other under-the-radar trends that marketers should pay attention to going forward?

Having been in the broader programmatic ecosystem for a while, there are a lot of broad trends agnostic to our company. First is the degree of maturation on platforms for things like handling fraud, traffic and viewability. Those are all table stakes for anything in programmatic marketing now.

Secondly, with the shift to CTV, marketers and publishers have been focusing on curating this inventory so that it’s easily merchandisable and consumable. You take the high degree of maturation, which leads to trust, then the CTV as an endpoint which got bigger through COVID. 

Another of the trends that we’re seeing is that traditionally linear media buying teams are starting to dip their toe in the water in a big way. You’ve got the big screen-scaled consumer experience and now you’re introducing automation and more granular data utilization. That’s an interesting trend to watch over the next couple of years. What will the behavior of linear marketers and buying teams look like and how will they adopt a platform like CTV?