A seat at the table series: The Ups and Downs of 2023 with Hopes for 2024

On December 06, 2023 2023, a seat at the table series, hopes of 2024

IAB Australia has partnered with The Women in Programmatic Network (TWIPN) to launch the Seat at the Table Series.  The series will dive into the personal experiences of those from the local advertising community, and give these role models a seat at the table to share their story. Each month we'll feature a different topic and guest speaker. 

December is the time when everyone reflects on the year that was. In the TWIPN community, 2023 was full of growth and expansion, including the launch of new working groups in France, USA and Brisbane, Australia. TWIPN has built a community of more than 300 members and growing. The advertising industry also went through a whirlwind of events. So, for our December interview, we are featuring Audrey Michelin, Director of Account Management APAC at OpenX, also a member of TWIPN’s leadership team, who will be sharing her view on the events of this year and her projections for the year ahead.

As always, we’d love for the readers to get to know a bit about you and how you got to where you are today. How did you land in the Tech industry and why did you stay?

I started in media and adtech a little bit by accident. In 2016, I was an Event Manager and was looking for a new role. I was working at a bar and a colleague worked in sponsorships at ARN. She was leaving and was looking to replace herself and I thought “Oh a job with no nights or weekend work. Sign me up!”. From there I moved into the ad ops team and then made my progression into product and then adtech.I am the kind of person who thrives with challenges so I think that is what has kept me around in adtech and media. As an industry, there has been so much change in the last 7 years so I have had to continuously learn and adapt, which I love!

Thinking of 2023, it was a year full of accomplishments for you. Becoming a finalist in the AdTech awards, TWIPN mentor, running the TWIPN Sydney community events. What was the highlight for you and why?

While it’s always an honour to be nominated for awards and fun to speak at and run events, my highlight was definitely working with my TWIPN mentee. I get a lot of fulfilment out of helping others and so helping her to work through her challenges and watching her grow brings me lots of happiness. Another highlight is that I was promoted from an ANZ role to an APAC role, leading a team of account managers in Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney. That has been really interesting and I’ve learned a lot about other markets and cultures but also about myself!

As one of the initiators of A Seat At The Table series, you met so many wonderful women who shared their stories. We all had one that resonated better than others. What was the one that connected with you the most?

All of the stories have been so good and I loved working on the series. There were two that stuck with me the most and they were Lorraine Donnelly about Neurodiversity and Jessica Barrett about Sobriety. The reason they resonated with me the most is that they pushed me into thinking about how I move through the world day-to-day and how I could do it in a better way, to ensure that I’m supporting those around me and making sure that I am not causing any unintended harm to anyone.

2023 was also a year of economic uncertainty, rising interest rates and slow revenue growth impacting the advertising industry, with major players announcing redundancies. Do you feel like the industry is fully in recession yet or the worst is yet to come?

2023 was certainly a hard year for many people and I do hope that those affected by redundancies have landed on their feet. I think, and hope, that the worst has already happened and we start to see the economy and our industry recover. I’m feeling really positive about 2024 and all of the opportunities it brings.

It was also a year of raising our voice even more prominently, be it for a more inclusive environment, LGBTIQA+ representation, supporting returning to work parents, Aboriginal communities, etc. It feels like we are getting more confident with opening up about these issues - but are we doing enough? What can be taken as a learning into 2024 to improve?

I think as a society, we move forward very slowly on some things and much quicker on others. Personally, I was really disappointed in the result of the referendum. The biggest learning that I took from that is that we need to be better at talking with people rather than at them, and that assuming that everyone has the same level of education and capacity to investigate topics is a really easy way to fail at changing minds. I also worry about the amount of blatant lies and misinformation that spreads. I’m not sure what the answer is but my advice here is that if you have the skills to identify dodgy information, work on being able to help those around you to figure out what is true and what they can trust without being condescending.

Looking at 2024, what do you think will be the most important topics we should be unpacking as an industry? 

Something that we don’t talk about much in the bigger conferences, but we definitely need to work on more is DEI&B (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging). When we look at companies and leadership teams within the industry, they are all still very much the same. It’s something we need to make meaningful progress on, not just leave it to the next generation.

Sustainability should and will continue to be a talking point, however I’d like to see more action on it. We are seeing the same players on stage at every event talking about it and I think that the excuse of waiting on an industry standard is holding up a lot of progress. Sometimes you just need to start.


I also think that the move to cookieless targeting will be a focus. The deprecation of cookies on Chrome will have a big impact on the way that advertisers can reach their audiences. There are a lot of options in market but I think it can be hard for publishers and buyers to decide which solutions will work best for them to achieve their goals. 

We hope to hear more on the topics you mentioned in the upcoming industry events. Are there any events you are particularly looking forward to?

I am looking forward to the Programmatic Summit, Cannes in Cairns and Ad Week APAC as well as the events that the IAB puts on each year. Hopefully I’ll be able to get over to Singapore for ATS so that I can make sure I’m keeping up with what’s going on over in SEA also! And of course, I am very excited for the TWIPN events that the team will put on!

To close, we always ask interviewees to share a piece of advice to the readers. But this time we’ll change it up a bit. What are the three things on your list for 2024 that you think everyone should start doing?

1. If you want to change something, start tomorrow. Don’t wait until the new year.

2. Start advocating for yourself. As women, we tend to shy away from telling people how awesome we are. Start now, tell everyone about how you are great! And if you don’t think you are great, then you are simply wrong and you need to attend more TWIPN events.

3. This one is something I just started doing and it’s actually the best. When you wake up in the morning, put music on and dance through your morning routine. It’s so energising and puts you in a great mood.