SVP Audience and Product, NetLine Corp
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here.
I currently head-up Audience & Product for NetLine. This encompasses all client facing and publisher facing products. Content Strategy for the business is also running out of my team. So yes, lots of great work being put out by some amazing people. We’re a small but crafty group.
I navigated my way through NetLine over the years but long-story short, I was a spiky haired 22 year old kid who decided that it would be a great idea to send NetLine’s President, Werner Mansfeld, an email explaining to him that he should hire me and provided, in grandiose detail, why I’d be a perfect fit for the organization. They weren’t looking to hire at the time nor were they looking for a remote employee located on the opposite coast.
Amazingly, it just felt right from the beginning. On one side was me, a scrappy problem solver from Philadelphia and on the other side was a little start-up in California, literally working from a tipped over Grain Silo office. What could go wrong?! Full transparency: the decision had me a little scared…that’s how I knew it was right to pursue.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Massive consolidation. With every new wave of a new martech stack layer comes a contraction in the market 3-5 years later. ABM is the latest lovechild. As with all fads, we know how they end. They never go away entirely but ultimately settle into a state of level-logic. The buzz washes away and people accept it for what it is…a valuable strategy that deserves a seat at any comprehensive strategic marketing table. It doesn’t however continue to live on with the larger-than-life celebrity status it’s currently enjoying.
The lemmings move on and find the next cliff to dive off of. The market is littered with countless examples of this continuously occurring over time and I have absolutely zero reason to believe that this behavior will change.
Agencies will continue to invest heavily to control/dominate layers of the marketing stack and landscape.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
AI. Specifically chat-bots evolving into full fledge life concierges – No, I’m not a fanboy for the primitive nonsense that is currently hitting the market. Yes, I love my Amazon Echo but come along for journey for a moment and contemplate what’s next…
You open up your favorite AI assistant (Google/MSFT/Amazon/or someone else) and ask it for a custom curated playlist of podcasts featuring guests that offer engaging and credible insights on the topics of content marketing and lead generation in the B2B space. The curation process dynamically is creates and syncs across all of your devices instantly. If you have an Android device, the phone already knows that the playlist needs to be optimized for your commute which is 56 min and 34 seconds. From the moment you step foot into the car, the immersive experience begins.
A literal door-to-door curated multi-thought leader mind expanding session was delivered. You step out of the car, ready to take on the world with fresh new thoughts and powerful perspectives. All the while your phone is just begging you to break the geo-fence surrounding your car to kick off the return trip. And of course, in cinematic fashion it obviously saved the best for last.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
Let’s start with the obvious. The CMO must fully understand how the waterfall of dozens of co-dependent technologies will impact his/her organization at an emotional, operational, tactical, and strategic level. Adding features simply because your competitor is using a vendor is never a wise choice. All the best intentions fail without skilled personnel at the helm to implement against the common goal that has been communicated by the CMO downwards.
A CMO should constantly ask him/herself how will this specific addition to my martech stack directly translate into driving my team’s success. If that cannot be quantified clearly, someone was duped on style over substance. There are thousands of vendors literally promising that they know when business is about to be booked. Isn’t it curious that those very organizations aren’t publicly traded multi-billion dollar conglomerates controlling every business transaction? Think about challenging these miracle vendors by asking them to predict when you, the CMO, will be buying from them.
Did you hear that? That was screeching wheels of them hitting the breaks and pivoting towards another selling proposition. Because of this, today’s CMO has to have a keen eye on vetting the countless vapor vendors out there from those that can drive meaningful impact, efficiencies, and revenue growth to their business.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Being that my immediate industry operates as a bit of an echo-chamber, I tend to look outside of it for inspiration. I’ll start off with Zwift. I’m a lifelong cyclist and the winter has always meant the death for my training schedule. Along came Zwift and turned my life upside down. I can literally ride at any time with thousands of active cyclists located all over the world. The virtual world is completely immersive, gamification is layered in, and the training output is comparable to what I’d be out doing on the roads sans the frost bite. #FTW
Noisli also fascinates me. As someone who continuously has content marketing on the brain, Noisli has been a blessing in optimizing my sleep patterns. Need to stay awake? No worries – just switch over to a more productive mix of background noise. Their periodic email nurturing smartly knows when you haven’t been using the product and could be in the process of going off the rails. Quick…back to Noisli!
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We’re a bit unique in the sense that we own and operate the #1 B2B Content Syndication Lead Generation Network. On any given month we’re reaching in excess of 125M UVs and consistently processing over 700k leads on the back of a gated content request. We have the luxury of heavily relying on our core business to drive its own marketing success. That said, we do layer-in additional technologies when/where appropriate:
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Recent example, the launch of our ‘2017 State of Information Technology: Content Consumption and Demand Report’. It’s a deep dive into the research patterns of IT pros offering insights into active IT personas, their content consumption trends, and the competitive landscape among IT companies competing with you to target these very prospects. The findings discussed within the report were directly extracted from in-market content consumption by millions of professionals.
Aside from the active content consumption, these professionals generated more than 459M exhaust signals offering details into the in-market propensity, content appetite, and content velocity. For well over a month, we pored over and extensively analyzed the signals with the help of our BI folks…the findings were a mixture of exciting, intriguing, and downright wonderful. Since its release a few weeks ago, the report has been downloaded hundreds of times, translated into countless opportunities for NetLine, and most importantly drove pipeline for the business that quickly converted into Closed Won revenue.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Perhaps I’m naively assuming that AI won’t be replacing me immediately so I tend to think about how AI is going to be asset to further develop success. Everything we do at NetLine comes from the perspective, how we can leverage algorithms to streamline the business for scale. Automation doesn’t scare me. To the contrary, it excites me. I have some ideas as to how AI can be layered into our model directly that could yield compelling dialogues with in-market professionals and deliver meaningful results for our clients. Perhaps we’ll be talking about those ideas coming to fruition in a future interview?
Editor’s note: We welcome the thought David.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m going old school here. Grab your morning coffee/tea, don’t open email, and immediately write down your to-do list for the day. You cannot leave the office until those items are complete.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I recently dusted off an old favorite of mine to see how well it’s held up over time.
Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of MIT’s Media Lab, and also founded the One Laptop per Child Association (OLPC). The book is amazingly aging gracefully.
Somethings like the idea of hologram-like virtualized football games being projected into our living rooms have yet to happen…looking forward to that someday becoming a reality. Microsoft’s HoloLens and Facebook Oculus are probably the closest thing to it at the moment.
I generally read on my phone for short-form content. Print books are still enjoyable to me but picking up the tablet is also serviceable.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be yourself. Never doubt the importance of staying true to your gut.
The mind wavers. The heart gets emotional. The gut in a literal sense is connected to your core. Trust it.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Ann Marinovich – SVP Content Partnerships & Strategy at Forbes
MTS: Thanks David! That was great fun and we will see you back on MarTech Series soon.
David Fortino is the SVP of Audience and Product for NetLine Corporation. David is responsible for the strategic direction and management of NetLine’s audience, publisher, and client facing technologies, platform, and product development roadmap. Prior to NetLine, David served as Director of Audience and Business Development for VerticalNet.
NetLine Corporation empowers B2B Marketers with the reach, technology, and expertise required to drive scalable lead generation results and accelerate the sales funnel. Operating the largest B2B content syndication lead generation network, NetLine reaches 125 million unique visitors and processes more than 700 thousand leads monthly across 300 industry sectors.
NetLine’s AudienceTarget™ technology drives prospect discovery, quality customer lead acquisition, and buyer engagement from real prospect intent as professionals consume content directly across the network. Superior quality, on demand access, and advanced campaign reports enable all clients to achieve lead generation success. Founded in 1994, NetLine is privately held and headquartered in Los Gatos, California. Successful B2B Marketers Start with NetLine, visit www.netline.com.
About the MarTech Interview Series
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.