Rahat Kapur
Sep 11, 2023

DoubleVerify’s global CCO: “If you run your business by looking at the stock price, you’re going to make some not very good decisions.”

DoubleVerify has been verifying data for hundreds of leading global brands for well over a decade. As an era of misinformation further beckons, their global CCO speaks exclusively to Campaign on what they're doing to overcome critical challenges.

DoubleVerify global chief commercial officer, Julie Eddleman. Photo: DoubleVerify.
DoubleVerify global chief commercial officer, Julie Eddleman. Photo: DoubleVerify.

Julie Eddleman is a #GirlBoss.

Campaign meets the DoubleVerify global chief commercial officer (CCO) for the first time in a jazz-crooning vegan café in downtown Singapore, and as we sit down to chat, Eddleman spends the first part of her interview discussing her deep love of family, and how they inspire her to do what she does every day. Eddleman, who is based in Cincinnati (Ohio), is married to Diane Cummins (also former P&G) and has five children from their combined blended families from prior relationships—ranging in age from 16 to 38 years old, whom she describes as “a huge part of my life.” Her remarried ex-partner live three minutes away, helping to support in raising their children. Eddleman shares that having her kids grow up surrounded by four hard-working mums has been a key foundation of success for them, and consequently, for herself too.

It's refreshing to hear a C-suite leader delve into her personal background, and as we pivot to discuss her career, it’s clear there’s a thread of continuity that weaves between the roles Eddleman has taken on throughout her 30+ year tenure in branding, marketing and tech, and her deeply-rooted desire to protect her children and grandchildren from the myriad dangers of living in the modern digital age.

Now a veteran of her industry, Eddleman joined Procter and Gamble in June 1995 after her graduation, and stayed with the company for over 19 years. During that time, she worked across a number of areas including media planning and buying, brand entertainment, sports marketing for partnerships including the NFL and Olympics, as well as managing professional health influencers. Under her portfolio, she was responsible for US$2 billion in media, leading teams of over 300 people and 1,000 agency resources.

In August 2014, she moved to Google, taking on the role as global client partner, overseeing US$3 billion in revenues, and similarly leading teams of almost 300 around the world, with over 1,000 cross-functionally involved in the business. Her primarily role was to partner with product, engineering, research, compliance, and legal teams to advocate on behalf of clients. Additionally, she provided strategic growth advice and input to large global clients to solidify Google’s global product roadmaps (including Search, Youtube, Chrome, Android, Maps, Assistant and Google Marketing Platform).

Eddleman was also one of only six senior women globally leading Women@Google—a 20,000+ strong global employee network program providing networking, mentoring, professional development, and community-based opportunities to women across 52 countries. She was also one of 20 senior leaders on the Gaygler Executive Committee, setting strategic direction for Google’s overall efforts to recruit, retain and advance women and LGBTQIA+ employees at the company, and in the wider tech industry.

In July 2021, she came to software platform DoubleVerify, taking on the role of chief commercial officer. Here, she helps brands improve the effectiveness of their online advertising, providing confidence in their digital investments through media measurement and analytics. 

Below is Campaign’s exclusive chat with Eddleman on everything from what motivated her to take on her role as CCO, to addressing client challenges in the era of misinformation, and why a dip in share price for DoubleVerify isn’t going to change her business strategy any time soon.

Julie, what are the key challenges that your clients are facing today, and do you see any thematic patterns emerging in terms of what you’re helping them grapple with?

When it comes down to it, it’s all about driving outcomes and return on investment (ROI) for their spending, so those are the KPIs that eventually all brands want to be able to get to. Whether it’s branding or direct response, they all want to drive their business outcomes and their KPIs. Those are much easier to track if you’re a direct response advertiser. There’s still a lot of waste in the system and we help them with that. In the more branding companies like the largest advertisers in the world such as the P&Gs, the Unilevers, the Mondelezs, [and] the General Motors, it’s much harder to get from the money that they spend on the Googles and the Facebooks, to the sales in the store. Where we started 10 years ago was: What’s the basic media quality like? How do we verify what you’re spending your media on? Over the last few years, we’ve gone to performance, where we have attention-based products and context-based products.

We also just announced our recent acquisition of Scibids. More and more advertising dollars are getting shifted into programmatic advertising, so Scibids will be able to use AI, and be able to incorporate literally real-time optimised algorithms into the DSPs that the largest clients are working with. That is then getting much closer to driving those business outcomes.

Speaking of Scibids, is DoubleVerify now moving into the media activation arena versus just verification, and does this conflict with media planning and buying in any way?

So, we are the only third-party verification space that does not buy nor arbitrage media. We are in the activation space, but we do not buy, we do not sell and we do not arbitrage media—which is an incredibly important differentiator of us vs. any of our competitors. We will not do that. That is a fundamental belief that we have, that if we get into that space, it will conflate our mission and our values. That has been aligned through senior management and through the board. Even with the acquisition with Scibids, it is in the DSP, but we are not buying nor selling nor arbitraging any media.

When you announced the acquisition of Scibids, it actually led to a dip in your share price. As a global CCO, did that scare you or is it just systemic of a fluctuating market?

It’s absolutely systemic of the market. We are extremely confident in the capabilities and the people at Scibids and how we’re going to be able to be integrated right away, and how they’re going to be able to help us build in a much quicker way over the next three years. Again, I go back to what does an advertiser really want—outcomes, and to be able to measure KPIs. And that’s what Scibids is going to allow us to be able to do.

If you run your business by looking at the stock price, you’re going to make some not very good decisions. We’re looking at the long-term. The majority of our investors are institutional—they believe in the industry that we’re in, they believe in the people that are leading this company, they believe in the products and the technology that we’re developing, and I’m confident that we’re going to going to continue growing at the rate we’ve been able to over the last few years.

Platforms including Meta and Elon Musk’s ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) have been in the news a lot lately surrounding concerns around advertising safety and how discerning ad spenders are becoming about where they put their dollars. Are such platforms able to see the value of DoubleVerify when it comes to winning back advertiser trust and raising their revenue potentials?

We work with almost all of the major platforms across a large majority of their revenue and their volume. We are integrating more and more every day, and I think that they are seeing the need and the value as the large global clients are saying: “We do want to work with you and we know you’re reaching consumers, but we don’t fully trust everything that you’re saying and we need third-party measurement and verification in order to do that.” So, all of them are working with us in some facet or form, and all of them will continue their partnership with us, because that’s what the advertisers and agencies are demanding.

YouTube just announced it’s going to be reporting its own CTV views, which has created a question around transparency. Brands will now have to take their word on the accuracy and truthfulness of their numbers. Are you worried more and more platforms will take back their data in this way, so they can control the narrative without third-party verification?

I think their ideal scenario would be to own all their data and to have advertisers and agencies be able to trust everything they say and report on. But, if you look at the history of the last five to six years, both advertisers and agencies will continue to demand third-party verification. They will look at the data that all the platforms are providing, but they will continue to work and want to expand the partnerships with DoubleVerify and to be honest, all of the competitors that are in this space, to be able to verify that the billions of dollars they’re spending are being spent in the way in which these platforms say they’re doing. [Clients] don’t want to spend their time doing what we’re doing, but they want to make sure they’re getting what they’re being reported. I think all of the platforms will continue to develop first-party tools, but advertisers and agencies will also continue to demand working with third-parties.

Do you think it’s actually an insurmountable challenge to expect any verification software to be able to capture and filter content at the rate it’s being produced today? After all, what guarantee is there that your ad dollars will always be spent in the right way?

Yes, there is no guarantee. There is absolutely no guarantee that an advertiser’s dollars will be spent exactly how they think they are, and how we will be able to report that.

Do advertisers acknowledge that?

Yes, they do. Going back to my P&G days and my time at YouTube, they know that you cannot verify everything. No one will ever be able to do that. The reason that I took this job is because I saw, even over the last ten years, the increasing amount of challenging content that my children who are teenagers and twenty-year-olds, have been exposed to over the last decade. I mean, it affects them on a daily basis. What is on the news and what is on social media—it affects us. I’m 53 and it affects me. I so strongly believe in our mission and what we need to do, so are we ever going to be able to catch everything? No. But we’re going to be able to greatly minimise, control and improve what all of us and all of our children and grandchildren are exposed to on a daily basis.

What is DV’s perspective on this newfound wave of AI, in particular when it comes to handling misinformation?

So, AI is only going to exponentially increase the amount of content that is on the internet and being served as disinformation. Literally, that is one of the reasons why we’ve been working with AI, on AI, and on machine learning sets—to be able to train all of the technology that we’ve been building over the last [six to eight years]. It’s also one of the reasons why we bought Scibids, because there is an expertise in AI, and they’re PhDs in machine learning. We know we’re going to need to be able to integrate and build new and more scalable products, that will be able to handle that large amounts of increase in content. It is something [going back to your previous question] that is on advertisers’ minds. Again, [for them they] don’t want to think about it. It’s something for their agencies and partners like DoubleVerify to be able to handle for them.

Let's talk about Connected TV (CTV). It’s a significant channel that’s emerging, particularly in APAC. It does comes with a lot of its own challenges though, so how is DV navigating that space and what do you foresee the future of it to be within this region?

I can’t speak to the APAC-specific experience, but I know globally, we’re integrating with a lot of the largest providers and suppliers from a CTV perspective. It is obviously a fast-growing part of the industry and I think we’re only at the very beginning. The technology that we use from a crawling the web with publishers and social perspective translates into connected TV. I think the challenge and this is something no one can do, and if they tell you they can, let’s have a follow-up question—what advertisers really want is by show-level data. Nobody is able to track that by any level that is meaningful for clients right now.

The only way to be able to unlock that is to work directly with those suppliers and for the suppliers and platforms to be able to say, okay, the clients are now demanding enough for us to be able to measure and report on that, and they want to integrate with DoubleVerify and some of our competitors to do so. Right now, we’re at the beginning stages of with all of those suppliers to be able to do that, but I think it will get there.

Finally, you’re very passionate about representation for women and the LGBTQIA+ community. How does DV support your initiatives in this space and how have you seen these topics evolve over the last few years?

So, if I look at the kind of last ten years that I’ve been in tech, there’s definitely been an improvement, but it’s not nearly been as dramatic as the improvement that I’ve wanted or hoped. One of the reasons I took the job at Google was also because I thought I could have a measurable difference in representation of women and underrepresented minorities at one of the largest tech companies in the world. I was on the leadership team of Women@Google which was 20,000 people of the 100,000 people that were there when I was there, and I was also on the LGBTQ leadership team. If you look at Google, they were the first tech company to be able to report on their diversity statistics, and now, everyone does it. Meta does it, Google does it, Microsoft does it, Amazon does it.

The first thing you need to be able to do is track, report and measure and you need to be able to reward the individuals who are helping with that representation throughout their individual organisations, and in their wider business units. At DV we’re doing all of that. We have a DEIB Council that’s kind of the overriding group that works on diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging across all of DoubleVerify. Within that equity pillar is where we track, we measure, we set goals, and then we’re starting to do the rewarding where [internal] organisations and leaders are making the progress they need to make with the goals that we’ve set [a number of our key initiatives are outlined in our DV Impact Report]. For an organisation that is around 1,200 people with contractors, I am amazed, I am excited and I am super proud of the work that DV has done.

Campaign Asia

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