Interview with Vicki Brakl, VP, Marketing, MNI Targeted Media

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Vicki L. Brakl
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“Now, a CMO is part brand expert, part audience expert, part sociologist, part communications director, part tech linguist and part analytics expert.”

Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to be a part of a media planning and buying company?

I ask myself how I got here every day, and I’m happy to say it has been a curious and exciting route. I’ve never shied away from a professional challenge, and have always sought out opportunities where I knew I could learn a lot, ones where mentally stretching would be part of the deal. My dad has always said that life is like tennis—when you play with great players, you play better. And, so it is in business as well. By surrounding yourself with smart people, you do even better work because you’re challenged. This has definitely been true for me.

Strength of one’s own personal brand is also something that got me here. Word-of-mouth still works with job opportunities, and that’s how I got to be here at MNI Targeted Media Inc.

I was inspired to join this company as Vice President of Marketing because nothing sits still in the media industry—especially in digital. The ability to work on a variety of clients (national, regional and local) provides an opportunity to stay on the cusp of what’s happening across industries and categories. Plus, no day is the same, which for me is important.

What are the core tenets of targeted media campaigns for mobile and social media?

Know your brand, know your message and be clear about what your one ‘must hit’ objective is. Then, relentlessly commit to producing creative that will entice and engage your precise audience, at the right time, when they are in the most likely mindset to be open to your messaging. I often see clients trying to hit several objectives, which often muddies a strategic media plan. Figure out the one ‘must.’ Then make it all come together with simple, stunning, yet compelling creative. Don’t try and tell your whole story; just find a great hook. What’s the micro-action you need that prospect to make in the moment? Design around that.

How should CMOs plan their technology stack to better leverage DMP, programmatic and customer experience management platforms?

CMOs are sitting on a mountain of data, but they are often paralyzed by the thought of what to do with it. First, assess your options as well as your limitations. Have a long-term plan. Start small. Learn lessons and then grow over time. Make sure you get the right funding and budget to integrate your systems.

The really interesting part about this question is that in the past, CMOs would never have had to worry about a tech stack. Now, a CMO is part brand expert, part audience expert, part sociologist, part communications director, part tech linguist and part analytics expert. Make friends with IT and your colleagues who are skilled in the trafficking and account management functions; you’ll need them.

What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

Startups, per se, they’re not, but I’m keen on watching all of the new print magazines that launched in 2017. Big names like Airbnb Magazine, Magnolia Journal and Goop are among them, but there are a lot of other niche titles as well. We’re convinced the print medium will live on, but just differently than it has in the past.

Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)

We ran an amazing digital campaign for one of our clients that literally saved a life. By utilizing geospatial as well as foreign language targeting on mobile, we helped a client crackdown on human trafficking. The campaign they ran resulted in a life being saved. That’s the one that stands out for me. Marketing can actually save lives.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

Apple iPlay. It makes phone calls from the car much easier and safer, which allows me to cram more into a day. More importantly, it makes finding the theme song to “Frozen” much quicker, before my 3.5-year-old has a meltdown!

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

It’s old school and simple. Write down your “must do’s” at the beginning of each day/end of the previous day. Systematically work through them, and then start a clean slate the next day. It works for me!

What are you currently reading?

I read a ton of whitepapers on a variety of subjects, as I learn a lot about our industry that way, but I also learn how other companies craft and present their content. Content production as thought leadership is a big initiative of ours right now, so I’m interested in how everyone creatively chooses to do it. And, I am one of those luddites; I still print stuff out to read it. I retain the information better.

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

I learned the difference between pushing or being pushy from my first boss at PepsiCo that I still keep close at hand. It’s been incredibly helpful for me since the moment he said it. I think I’m safe in saying I am good at pushing, but rarely pushy. At least I hope I am.

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

Judith Hammerman, VP, Global Data Commercialization at Time Inc.

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

Vicki is an experienced Marketing professional with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in Digital Strategy, Marketing Management, Consumer Products, Art Direction, and Market Research.

MNI Targeted Media Inc.

MNI Targeted Media Inc. We specialize in offering clients a range of targeted advertising products and solutions across media platforms, categories and audiences via our two brands—MNI and Harpoon Digital. MNI Your Audience. Delivered. With 40+ years of targeting expertise—including 12 years in the digital space—MNI delivers all the 
media planning and buying power clients need to precisely reach their target audiences, online and offline. Online solutions include mobile, network, local, and programmatic. Offline solutions include geo-targeted ads in 180+ DMAs, as well as ads cover wrapped around more than 40 of the nation’s most popular magazines.

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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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