Q&A With Lunio’s New Board Chair, Nick Morley

March 27th, 2024

At Lunio’s Manchester HQ, we recently welcomed newly-appointed Board Chair, Nick Morley

With a wealth of experience in the martech industry, Nick is in an ideal position to advise the Lunio team on strategy, board governance, and strategic partnerships over the coming years. So we’re delighted and proud to have him on board! 

Our VP of Marketing, Gemma Robaczynski, sat down with Nick to ask him about his career to date, ad fraud, the current state of performance marketing, and the growth opportunities he sees on the horizon for Lunio. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far? 

I’ve been leading the international arm of US-based martech businesses since 2006. The past 18 years have whizzed by and I’ve been blessed to lead go-to-market efforts at trail blazing companies like Efficient Frontier, Adobe, and Integral Ad Science. I’ve worked with some great operators and investors and learnt from all of them.   

After graduating, I was very fortunate to get my first sales job at Inktomi. At the time, Inktomi was the world’s largest search engine before the arrival of paid search and digital advertising as we know it today. At Inktomi, I remember seeing the roll out of the first digital banners and Overture’s PPC model, and that’s what got me involved in advertising – the space I’m still in today.

What led you to want to become a Board Chair of Lunio? 

My top three reasons for taking on the role relate to the product, place, and people at Lunio. 

Firstly, the product. What motivates me most is working with companies building best-in-class tech that solves real-world pain at scale. And that’s exactly what Lunio does. By automatically blocking fraudulent and invalid clicks coming from key marketing channels such as Google, Meta, Bing, LinkedIn, and more, Lunio empowers businesses to maximise their return on ad spend and make better campaign optimisations with validated traffic data. 

Secondly, the place. Lunio is a Manchester-based business. And as a proud Welshman (now Hampshire yokel), I’m a firm believer in the regional potential of the UK. It’s been refreshing these past few weeks to escape the London tech / media bubble and spend time embedded in the flourishing North West tech scene. In fact, Manchester’s £5bn digital ecosystem recently led to it being named the UK’s top digital tech city by CBRE.

And last but by no means least, the people.  I love working with highly motivated, low-ego teams with endless potential. And Lunio has already built an enviable senior leadership team. So I’m grateful to play a small part in helping its talented leaders and wider team reach new heights.

Why do you think Lunio’s solution is so important right now? 

The scale and impact of the problems created by fraudulent and invalid traffic vary depending on who you listen to. Some self-serving sources would lead you to believe that the problem isn’t that big, has already been solved, or will be solved imminently. 

But if you seek out impartial and quantitative analysis, you’ll find the problem is pervasive across every major ad platform, collectively costing advertisers billions of dollars every year. 

For example, Statista estimates the global costs related to digital ad fraud are set to more than double between 2023 and 2028, from $88bn to $172bn.  Furthermore, The 2023 Imperva Bad Bot Report found that in 2022, nearly half (47.4%) of all internet traffic came from bots, a 5.1% increase over the previous year.

This isn’t to say ad platforms aren’t doing anything to address the problem. They certainly are. But it’s simply impossible for them to eradicate it completely. That’s why it’s so important to have independent arbiters of truth when it comes to verifying paid traffic. And Lunio is one of those businesses. 

How does Lunio complement other well-established ad verification tools?  

Lunio is uniquely placed to offer a complementary performance media verification service not currently offered by the largest platforms in the space. Many ad verification tools work at the pre-bid level to optimise programmatic media buys by maximising viewability, minimising fraud, and ensuring brand safety. In essence, they maximise engagement rates for every ad served before any clicks even occur.  

On the other hand, performance media verification tools such as Lunio analyse post-click data and on-site behaviour to detect and exclude fraudulent and invalid traffic at a level not possible with viewability data only. 

By pairing pre-bid and post-click data, it gives complete insight into the whole ad journey, from impression through to clicks to conversions. And because of that, I see huge potential in the growth of the performance media verification industry.

What technology changes do you see coming within the marketing space over the next few years? And what role will Lunio play in helping marketers adapt? 

The rise of automation and AI is already transforming performance media. Algorithmically driven “black box” campaign types such as Google’s Performance Max and Meta’s Advantage+ make it easier than ever before to achieve target outcomes with your advertising budget. But that simplicity and convenience comes at the cost of control and transparency. 

Previously, it was much easier to measure performance on a very granular level across all channels. That data could be extracted and put into the hands of very clever people within your business, and their expertise would help guide decision making on how to best spend your budget across those channels. Things are different now. In many cases, granular campaign data isn’t accessible. And it’s increasingly down to ad platform algorithms to decide where and how money is spent. 

The more performance marketing moves towards a “black box” model, the greater the need for independent arbiters of truth within that ecosystem. And that’s where Lunio and other ad protection solutions fit in. It’s vital to verify and check the traffic being sold by ad platforms is worth the money you’re paying for it. Advertisers who understand the potential risks of giving up control for ease should be open-minded when it comes to independently verifying that their ad spend is getting the right level of return.

Why do you feel it’s important to support growing UK tech businesses outside of the London bubble? 

Science and tech based industries are absolutely critical for the British economy. We are already world leaders and to truly reach our national potential we need to tap into and unleash the enormous regional talent pool. The USA and Germany are great examples of nations with dispersed economies and there’s every reason to believe the UK can emulate that.  

One obvious benefit of establishing a business in a city like Manchester is that it can be cheaper than London. But a more powerful benefit lies in the quality of the talent pool, which continues to grow every year. Ultimately, you need talent to build a business. And London retains an advantage in that aspect. But the more investment that flows into the regions, the more reasons you create for talented people to stay. So over time, the growth of cities like Manchester becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

What are you most excited about getting stuck into in your new role as Board Chair?

Lots, but if I had to name one, it would be helping Neil build an incredible talent bench in the North West and London initially, then overseas as Lunio expands and grows internationally. 

There is so much talent there already, and with multiple new appointments at the leadership level, there’s a lot of headroom for growth within the business.   Helping others fulfil their personal potential, and in that process helping them to drive the business forward is what I’m most looking forward to. 

What one piece of advice would you give to Paid Media Leaders interested in maximising the efficiency of their ad spend? 

As automation and AI become the new norm in performance marketing, it’s important to retain as much control and transparency over your ad spend as you can. Some areas, such as landing page optimisation, are entirely under your control, so it often makes sense to double down on your efforts and investments there. 

But in other areas where you’re more dependent on ad platform algorithms to drive results, you should ensure you’re feeding automated bidding and targeting systems the best possible data. When it comes to AI, the principle of “garbage in, garbage out” always applies. So by getting rid of invalid and fraudulent traffic, you can help steer campaigns in the right direction, minimise wasted ad spend, and ultimately reach desired outcomes faster. 

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