Tell us about your role and journey into technology. How did you arrive at Adslot?
I had a few career stops before landing in digital media, however, it wasn’t until I was working in public affairs where I really started thinking about how to translate all our grassroots efforts into the digital environment. I distinctly remember back in 2009 when I had my first meeting with Google to learn more about AdWords. Less than a week later, during my second meeting with Google, I found myself asking questions that even our representative couldn’t answer. What I recognized, even then, is that the technological capabilities I was asking about simply didn’t exist yet. This sparked a passion in me to learn everything I could about digital advertising complete with a deep desire to help shape it.
I started studying in my free time and on weekends. This led me to a position in publishing. Next, I wanted to round out skills as a digital marketer. I accepted a position at Experian, where I ran the brand team and learned how to create a cross-channel consumer engagement strategy and a sophisticated and comprehensive marketing structure.
A mentor of mine became the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Adslot. When he recruited me, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew Adslot was a great product. It was the kind of brand where—you would walk into a room and watch a capabilities presentation—and you’d walk out knowing this technology had the power to change the face of the industry as we knew it.
As a woman in the technology industry, what has been your most challenging assignment in your career? What advice and lessons do you have for other VP Marketing and CMOs?
Ironically, the most difficult challenges I’ve faced, have been the exact ones that attracted me in the first place, and that’s the speed at which technology and this industry changes. It seems like every day, we’re learning about a new technology, platform, integration or acquisition. It’s critical to stay current. That’s the fun part, though, right?
The roles of CMO and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) are quickly merging. Today’s CMOs look, think and act a lot like CDOs, which is reflective of this changing landscape. You need to understand marketing fundamentals and how to always serve your audiences, but you also need the right skills to keep pace with the right tech, which helps you deliver the right message for your audience. To execute this correctly, it must be coordinated across all the channels relevant to your audience. You must discover what cross-channel messaging will work for your audience, what technology you will need, what key hires you need to make, and the internal processes you will need to operate across channels as seamlessly as possible.
In terms of recommendations to other CMOs and VPs of marketing, my advice is simple: as much as it’s possible, do not operate in a silo. Not only do you need your marketing efforts as integrated and coordinated as possible, but your entire company must be moving in unison. It can be very hard to bridge the gap between different functions in your organization, but at the end of the day we’re all in sales. We need to move like one cohesive machine for maximum impact.
It can take a lot of time and work to coordinate across multiple teams, but get the buy-in from functional leaders, do your due diligence as to how it will affect business goals, and work your internal relationships to make it happen. If you hire the right people to do the right work, have the right support internally, and have a clear strategy in place that is focused on the needs of the consumer, it will be a lot easier to ensure your company not only survives but thrives in the digital economy. In short, be relentless!
How do you believe automation and analytics benefit your customers (marketers and brands) in terms of building relationships with key audiences?
Simply put, data automation drives efficiencies allowing our clients to make better/more timely media investments, which, in turn, reduces media waste. This is the core of everything we do here at Adslot. This approach, which is strategic and calculated, is based on the understanding that data and automation are essential to all marketing campaigns. Brands need audience data to answer the who, what, when, where and how. However, this data does little good if marketers don’t have the automation needed to execute on these insights. Automation enables them to drive operations into the future.
What valuable lessons did you learn from 2018’s massive mergers and acquisitions in the Marketing Cloud and Automation areas?
M&A activity in these areas has been heating up for years. We saw some major acquisitions this past year (such as Salesforce acquiring CloudCraze and Datorama, or Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo and Magento), which I believe is indicative of an industry outcry to reduce and streamline tech stacks. And there’s a good reason for this.
Working across multiple tech stacks not only creates data siloes but can be quite expensive and challenging (to say the least) to piece together. Underscoring this is the tremendous fragmentation in the market, which has left the industry hungry for unification.
What we’re seeing is large companies capitalizing on this trend. They want a bigger piece of the pie and recognize the way to capture market share is to create a seamless, centralized experience. This simplification and layering of multiple specializations (AdTech, content management and channel performance/measurement, etc.) into one unified, efficient experience has proven the ability to deliver mass value to both brands and businesses that can afford (and need) this unified stack approach. Unification can alleviate many of the challenges faced by today’s marketers, however, it also creates powerful, full-stack (or close to it) solutions where marketers enter into a ‘sticky’ environment where it’s hard to venture outside of that stack with other vendors, yet exponentially easier to manage daily.
This limits your ability to test new technologies or use “the best vendor” for new or evolving marketing needs. Furthermore, small- to medium-sized businesses seldom can afford this full-stack option. Balancing your own integrated vendor stack requires a unified team (internal or via agency partners) that is strategically aligned every step of the way. Regardless of which direction you go (unified stack or unified team), integration is never easy. As the saying goes, “where there’s chaos, there’s opportunity.”
How do you see the AdTech and MarTech landscapes converging with Data Management?
The need for this convergence is clear, however, it’s easier said than done. (Honestly, if anyone can do it, my money is on Amazon.) The goal for any marketer is to create a seamless consumer experience across all channels and devices. To do this you need to have integrated systems inclusive of data insights and employment, as well as your execution platforms. The technical hurdles that stand in the way of this convergence aren’t insurmountable. However, to overcome notable challenges such as the ability to take personally identifiable information and anonymous data flow from system to system in a highly secure manner is critical to the success of any marketing strategy. In other words, technologies must be able to complement one another so that marketers can extract the data, (especially first-party data), from one platform and apply it when using another, safely.
This is one of the most valuable differentiators available to clients who work with Adslot. We allow media buyers to upload all their first-party data (DMP/CRM data) into our platform to facilitate top-funnel ad buys. They can use the same data (and strategies such as frequency capping) to buy guaranteed, top priority, premium placements across publishers, rather than entering and re-entering their parameters with each new order. The result is that marketers can deploy a comprehensive data strategy across data touchpoints and then execute cross-strategy buys.
As our world becomes increasingly more digitized, data and automation become more and more essential to the marketing ecosystem. This underscores the need for a fully-functional, multi-channel marketing loop.
What are your predictions on the rise of location data and analytics?
Location data and analytics have been around for a while, but they’re becoming more common and more useful. For example, location data underpinnings can tell a marketer when and how a consumer is using a particular app or when advertising has led them to visit a brick-and-mortar location. Adslot has clients who accomplish this by using the geo-location pixels in their creative of their upper-funnel campaigns. Using that information and those insights, marketers can personalize and improve the experience for that consumer—whether it’s the advertising experience, customer service, etc.
Location data can also put a spotlight on consumers’ behavioral habits or tendencies, help determine what kind of creatives they’re most likely to engage with and whether a certain behavior will then lead to an action within the marketing funnel. Alternatively, if a marketer recognizes that their audience is not reacting to a campaign at all, or as they typically would, then they can troubleshoot and recalibrate their campaigns and marketing messaging accordingly. This functionality continues to evolve, thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). That is, location-based data powered by AI can take these insights to the next level, revealing even more about a consumer’s behavior in a fraction of the time — provided they do use this data safely.
How does Adslot position itself in the overtly dynamic AdTech ecosystem?
Currently, our technology is highly unique. We’re one of only two platforms that truly meet the criteria to be classified as “Programmatic Guaranteed” (PG). PG enables brands to automate media buying and ensure guaranteed placement/views/performance. Adslot goes beyond automation to also ensure premium placement—we guarantee marketers’ ads run with their preferred publishers. We do this by connecting directly with publishers’ ad servers, providing brands direct access to, and transparency into, any and all inventory that the publisher wishes to make available to trusted buyers.
This allows buyers to view available inventory in real time. Further, we enable these brand managers to utilize their first-party data with these premium, guaranteed buys, meaning they only pay to reach the people they want to target with highly personalized ad campaigns. A few additional benefits to brands include elimination of ad fraud and data leakage, enhanced brand safety, and reduction of ad waste. We’re also free to buyers.
For publishers, guaranteed premium means guaranteed revenue. The direct connection with brands eliminates unnecessary “tech taxes,” DSP fees, and various third-party fees that bite a chunk out of the pie before ad dollars ever reach publishers. We help publishers to reduce overhead costs and maximize revenue.
Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth and the lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition.
Our industry wouldn’t exist without acquisitions; such shifts and transitions are commonplace in AdTech/MarTech. My strategic approach to supporting rapid growth amidst this ever-changing landscape is to focus on three key areas: prioritization, planning and communication.
- Prioritization. This is needed not only to streamline operations without creating cracks in the process but also to set up team members for success. Leadership teams should create an easy-to-understand outline of initiatives that include priority level and assignments.
- Planning. This may seem obvious, however, leadership teams should ensure there is a detailed plan in place no matter the magnitude of the transition, even if it only affects one area of the business. This plan should include a messaging and activation timeline and approach for all key stakeholders — employees, investors, clients, and any other applicable parties.
- Communication. Company leaders should communicate often and clearly with the team and be ready to support all parties involved, whether they are internally- or externally-affected.
How do you keep your global teams informed?
We’re a global company, with our core product and development teams based in Australia. However, we do not allow these geographic barriers to become barriers to our business success. We stay in close communication with our products, operations and business development teams through weekly calls, during which we discuss topics ranging from client experience, market needs, and how we can improve our technology to outperform the industry giants.
Additionally, we have our products team join us onsite for quarterly business reviews. We use this time to collaborate on the current roadmap and discuss how we can advance our business. Often, this includes brainstorming on how to develop a project roadmap specific to one of our client’s needs. As a company, we take pride in being agile and able to quickly customize projects when we receive unique client requests.
What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?
Adslot works with key players across the digital media buying ecosystem. This includes agencies, in-house marketers, publishers, and DMPs. Our primary focus when attending industry events is to meet with agencies, brands and publishers to inform them about our niche value; and, as the market inevitably marches toward full automation, our simple, safe, and transparent solution, with our “Programmatic Guaranteed 2.0” technology, delivers PG with the premium advantage.”
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently deploy?
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing and Sales Technology for 2019-2020?
As AdTech and MarTech so closely intersect with technology and technical innovation, it’s hard to be selective. But if I had to choose, I would say 5G, blockchain and AI are the three main drivers of impactful disruption to our industry.
5G: Although there is some fear that it will restrict competition and drive up prices, ultimately, I believe that the increased available spectrum will allow consumers to use their mobile phone as their default device for all consumption—phone, TV, internet. Consumer behavior is already trending toward this, but I think 5G will accelerate the overall shift.
Blockchain: There is a lot of excitement, and yet trepidation, over how blockchain could be layered into the AdTech ecosystem. While there are numerous applications, I think the most promising is probably the use of blockchain to enable a single source of truth, which could improve efficiency, transparency, safety and overall effectiveness in the media value chain.
AI: The opportunities afforded through AI are limitless, and my guess is that it will influence every corner of the media value chain—from creative to performance. It can be harnessed to drive decision-making, personalize the consumer experience, improve cohesion and performance, and underscore efficiency through automation.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
Canopy Growth is one that I have my eye on as the cannabis market matures. There has been significant investment and growth with this company, most notably from the $4 billion investment from Constellation Brands last fall. Not to mention, their revenue has soared 282 percent year-over-year. The cannabis industry has been ripe for growth for a while; even hallmark global brands such as Pepsi have alluded to investing in the market. And we’ve also seen the distilled CBD oil market expand significantly, as it folds into other CPG items such as skincare, drinks, dog food, etc. It’s quickly moving into a position as the next health craze.
I also think Albert and Highspot are ones to watch. Albert is a self-learning digital marketing solution, rooted in AI, that improves the effectiveness of digital marketing. Highspot, on the other hand, can deliver the most relevant and effective content for sales opportunities using AI. As AI continues to mature and reach its saturation point, I believe it will become table stakes for any brand or business function—marketing, sales or otherwise—to be successful.
If I had to choose one more, I would say Bundil—a platform that enables you to easily invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. More and more, there is an indication that money and banking will be done digitally, or through a touchless exchange, e.g., no physical credit cards. The space is arguably crowded, but also ripe for innovation and adoption, which leaves plenty of room for opportunity.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Ensure you’re facilitating clean, safe data pathways for both insight and execution.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
We can’t deliver industry-leading results if we’re not using best-in-breed methods and technology to achieve it.
One word that best describes how you work.
Persistently (ideally coupled with good humor!).
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google Drive. It is immensely helpful when constantly collaborating with multiple teams in different time zones.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Prioritize, execute and then repeat. I do this quarterly, weekly, and daily.
What are you currently reading?
“Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, and “You Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. Most of my reading is done digitally, in-app. Additionally, I have a 30-minute walk to work, and I travel often, so Audible has become invaluable.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When my dad was teaching me to ride a bike he said, “Wherever you’re looking, that’s where you’re going to go.” For some reason that resonated larger than that moment, and I use that advice in all areas of my life. Focus on the important things in business and in life.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I have only ever seen one common denominator for successful people: grit. There comes a point where you either do what it takes, or you don’t.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Charmagne! Hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Results-driven marketing communications leader and digital marketing strategist with over ten years B2B marketing and communications experience in: advertising, media, Martech, SaaS, entertainment, and politics.
Proven ability to analyze and thrive in entrepreneurial environments and quickly develop creative, measurable, and effective strategic and tactical solutions that drive revenue.
Meyers-Briggs personality type: ENTJ if you find that sort of thing helpful.
Adslot is a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange. With offices in New York, London, Shanghai, Munich, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, we service market-leading brands, agencies and publishers all over the world. Adslot Media is the only tool in the market that scales publisher-direct buying and empowers collaboration between buyers and premium publishers.
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.