What does a programmatic solutions manager actually do?

In this feature, we take a look inside the working lives of people whose job titles often warrant the question: 'but what do you actually do?' This week, we speak to Emmalee Fagerstrom, programmatic solutions manager at GumGum ANZ.

What do you actually do?

I work closely with our sales team to support programmatic campaigns and assist trading teams with setting up and troubleshooting these campaigns.

GumGum has a unique offering to market with non-standard creatives. On the one hand this is what makes them perform – they are native to the content and are pretty clever creatively. As they are unique in market, I act as a resource to agency and programmatic trading teams to educate them on the benefits of working with us.

I’m the first dedicated programmatic solutions manager in ANZ; the role was introduced to support increased programmatic activity.

What does a good working day look like?

Good days always start with a couple of flat whites. I’m originally from Dallas and the coffee is definitely superior over here.

The best days will culminate in successfully solving an issue or a problem that has arisen. My role requires both right and left-brain skills and insight. I oscillate between dealing with very technical issues (involving a lot of tech-speak) and translating tech-speak for marketers; good days will include a healthy mix of both. I’m a people person at heart so helping people solve problems gets me out of bed in the morning (well that and the aforementioned flat whites).

What does a bad working day look like?

Bad is probably the wrong word for it but my least favourite (but highly necessary) days are when I’m desk-bound trying to find an answer to an issue. A lot of what I do is a process of elimination because running programmatic campaigns involve a lot of different layers.

This means I have to spend a good chunk of time evaluating data with my nose in a spreadsheets and dashboards. As a people person a day immersed in data can sometimes be frustrating – but usually followed by a good day in which I get to discuss solutions for campaigns based on my findings.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Juggling time zones. As I spend most of my time trying to find solutions to problems I’ll often need to tap into the collective brains trust of other programmatic solutions managers in our global network. They are based in the UK and US so finding a convenient time to play detective with them can be tricky.

What are your KPIs?

As I have two different types of clients – agencies/programmatic teams and our sales team – my KPI’s are ultimately based on their happiness.
I’m there to support the sales team in a consultative capacity so I’m not tied to any revenue targets; instead I’m judged on how happy our clients are and how happy my sales team is.

Ensuring they are all happy requires a combination of technical skills, education and up-skilling and great communication.

What’s your favourite part of your role?

I sound like a broken record but I love solving problems in order to help our team deliver successful campaigns. I also love working with the global media industry. I’ve worked and met with some amazing personalities, been lucky enough to travel and feel like I’m helping shape (albeit in a small way) the next phase of media buying and selling in Australia.

What’s your most stressful part of your role?

I’ll caveat what I’m about to write by saying that the word ‘stressful’ should be taken in the context that we’re not saving lives here. That said, I’m conscious that a lot of people are depending on me which can create pressure. My role didn’t previously exist here in Australia so there’s a lot of people who need my ‘immediate’ attention – I suppose it is this real time managing of priorities and juggling the time zones that is the most stressful.

How does your role keep you on your toes?

Making sure I’m on top of what is going on in the world of programmatic keeps me on my toes. There’s a huge amount of evolution and change and new initiatives emerging on an almost daily basis and I can’t drop the ball as both the internal team and our clients look to me for the latest insights and education.

What makes a good programmatic solutions manager?

Curiosity. You have to be highly inquisitive and analytical when it comes to figuring out why certain things aren’t delivering or pacing or performing. The right brain/left brain juggle also comes in handy.

Emmalee Fagerstrom is programmatic solutions manager at ANZ GumGum.


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