Interview with Melinda McLaughlin, CMO, Extreme Reach

Melinda McLaughlin
Melinda McLaughlin

Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of a video technology company?

As CMO at Extreme Reach, I spearhead all aspects of the company’s global marketing and communications in addition to driving market research, product development strategy, and sales enablement. I am fortunate to have a career that has spanned the massive evolution of the ad industry over the last 25+ years, spending 15 years on the ad agency side and a decade at A+E Networks. I took a leap into the video technology space when I joined Tremor Video. Five years there as CMO hooked me on the excitement and innovation happening every day in video technology and it prepared me beautifully for my role at Extreme Reach. Our cloud platform supports the world’s biggest brands and their agencies in getting ads to both TV and video destinations while also enabling Talent & Rights management wherever those ads play.

How do you see video asset workflows and buying models evolving with the availability of cross-device measurement technologies?

Video advertising has evolved and innovated in so many ways. Media can be bought and sold in a nanosecond and cross-device measurement provides insights that were unimaginable just a decade ago. But where the industry really falls short right now is in the video ad asset workflow. Outdated, manual, error-prone processes are holding back the promise of programmatic video advertising and negatively impacting brands, agencies, and publishers. This workflow is critical to a healthy ecosystem and a simple solution exists right now. The future of video ad workflow is evolving to an ad cloud model that provides a single, original source for all video advertising assets with permission-based access for all teams involved.

How has the maturity of data science and analytics influenced the creation of real-time video experiences?

Data science and analytics enable marketers to target customers very precisely with the message that is likely to resonate with a specific viewer at a specific time. A brand might choose, for example, to serve one type of video creative to a person’s phone and a very different creative for a situation that finds that person in more of a lean-back viewing mode. New types of video experiences have expanded the palate for creative teams who now have more, highly specific opportunities to connect with their audience.

Tell us about how marketers and agencies could prepare for the converging worlds of TV and Video advertising  and how Extreme Reach participates in this transformation as a “technology enabler”?

As TV and video advertising converge, marketers and agencies need to be able to rely on a single source for storing and accessing their creative assets. Too often, we see clients struggling to find the correct video assets when preparing for the launch of a new campaign. The confusion is exacerbated when TV and video teams work in silos. Talent & Rights Management in advertising is a tremendously important piece of the equation. Managing the contracts for performers in commercials relies on knowing exactly where and when ads play in order to adhere to complex and strict contractual guidelines. It’s easy to understand that the internet completely disrupted the perfect closed system that worked for decades when ads were contained in the TV set. The by-product of fragmentation across many screens and devices has been very costly for brands. But it’s not an issue for Extreme Reach customers whose Talent & Rights details are fully integrated into our cloud platform enabling automatic tracking of ads for contract compliance.

Which startups in the martech/ad tech industry are you watching/keen on right now?

Instant Magazine is a very cool publishing platform that we’ve just started using for our content marketing. We love the ease of telling a story exactly as we’d like, with beautiful imagery and surprising layouts.

NewsCart is an exciting collaboration tool that helps us discover the most important news impacting our business and inspires our content marketing efforts. We’ve been a beta user for several months and can’t say enough about the team behind it. Newscart was 1st in the PitchTX competition at SXSW last year — a great indication that they’re a startup to watch.

What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2018?

Could you tell us about your standout digital campaign? 

We launched a campaign in January 2017 that I’m really proud of. Our aim was to disrupt the status quo and move the ad industry to take action in converting the archaic workflow process, described above, to a seamless technology-driven solution for the activation of video campaigns. The solution is Video Ad Streaming. In a series of three spots (shot in a real stream in the woods of Georgia!), we portray three common scenarios that create havoc for people on the front lines of launching video campaigns. The ads are engaging in a way not typically seen in B2B campaigns — a combination of clever storytelling and high-quality video production usually reserved for B2C spots.

We measured success by the video views (250,000 and still growing) and the adoption of Video Ad Streaming by Extreme Reach customers. In 2017 nearly 150 million video ad impressions had been streamed from our Ad Cloud.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

AI has given marketers the ability to know more about their target audience — how they behave, how and when they respond to brand messaging, and on and on. And as innovation continues, it’s likely that a host of tools we haven’t even imagined will be added to a marketer’s toolkit. But regardless of where AI and technical innovation takes us, I always come back to the importance of great storytelling and the power of video to do just that. For decades, the combination of sight, sound and motion has reigned supreme in advertising and I think it always will.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

As somewhat of a latecomer to podcasts, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized what I’d been missing. The podcast app on my iPhone is now my favorite. As a marketer I’ve always been interested in the art of great storytelling and podcasts have opened a whole new world of learning and discovery for me in my professional and personal passions — from knitting, politics and scientific discovery to ad tech and B2B marketing.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

This may be the oldest productivity hack in the book and it certainly works for me: Start the day early. Mornings are my most productive and creative time of day so I’ve developed a routine that allows me to fully utilize the early hours. Being the one to turn the lights on means I’ve got time for deep thinking projects before the office gets humming.

What are you currently reading?

In my work life, I read a lot about business, marketing, and ad tech on a daily basis both in print and online. I subscribe to email newsletters and news feeds which provide a great cross-section of curated news and insights. And while I consume information on every screen, I still think and process best with paper and pen. I read books on my kindle and iPhone and find that I also like having the actual book itself, so I tend to flip back and forth as I progress through a novel. I’m currently reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky, a beautifully written story based on the life of a forgotten WWII hero who chose to do the right thing.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Three words of immeasurable wisdom from my mother: Be the glue. Her sage advice has meaning across every area of my life. In business, it is fundamental to how I view my role, and that of my team, in every role I’ve had. It means: Bring people together, find common interests, relate to how your customers feel. These are pillars that support a culture internally and also drive a customer-centric marketing strategy. Thank you, Mom.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Ariane Gut, Head of Insights and Analytics at Tremor Video DSP. I was lucky to have Ariane on my team in a previous role. She’s one of the brightest minds in our business with a passion for listening closely to the consumer and spotting trends early.

Thank you Melinda! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

I am the CMO of Extreme Reach — the enterprise software company powering the ad asset supply chain for TV and video, serving the world’s biggest brands and their agencies. I am passionate about leadership and enabling individuals and teams to be their best.

Extreme Reach logo
Extreme Reach offers the only enterprise technology designed distinctly to bring together the TV and Video ad workflow and all aspects of Talent & Rights management in a single, easy-to-use cloud platform. One platform and one process make brand advertising easier, and analytics more insightful, with the assurance of rights compliance wherever ads play. Founded in 2008, Extreme Reach proudly serves the world’s biggest brands, agencies, post-production houses, all media destinations, and the talent community, altogether simplifying the process for every team that touches an ad campaign from start to finish. Headquartered in Needham, MA, Extreme Reach has offices in 19 cities worldwide.

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.

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