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MarTech Interview with Natalia Vasilyeva, VP of Marketing at Anzu.io

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MarTech Interview with Natalia Vasilyeva, VP of Marketing at Anzu.io

“Marketing Automation is critical to defining the funnel and building a communication plan for each of the customer touchpoints, as well as post-analysis.”

Tell us about your journey into Marketing Technology and how you started at Anzu.io?

I have been involved with Anzu since the company’s early days. Having worked in the AdTech space before, I was inspired by Anzu’s mission to make advertising better, and could see the potential impact I could have as a marketer. I am super proud of the team and what we’ve accomplished together as a company in such a short period of time.

I’ve been passionately driving cutting-edge technologies in Marketing since I entered the field nearly a decade ago. When I began my career, it was a different world from what we see today. Back then, there was little control over where the budgets went, with networks operating like black-holes without much interest in the data or precise audience targeting. Thus, marketers had a limited understanding of what happens at the end of the customer journey and lacked sophisticated measurement tools.

From the beginning, I was always keen to understand the customer and how we can serve them better. Now, I see the industry giving ample focus and energy to harnessing technology in order to take a comprehensive view of the entire user journey. A modern-day marketer is now a mix of Marketing, Analytics, Tech and much more – the boundaries are blurring!

As a woman VP of Marketing in a tech company, what’s the biggest challenge you face from within the organization and outside? How did you overcome this?

We work in a rapidly changing industry, one in which both men and women are constantly adapting and growing. But even with all the advancements we’ve made, women in tech remain largely under-represented, especially when it comes to leadership positions. This discrepancy reinforces the perception in the industry that a career in tech isn’t for women. And that needs to change. It was a challenge for me to establish myself as a professional as well as in a managerial position.

But today, seeing more and more women take up positions as CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs of global brands in traditionally “male” fields, makes me feel happier and more confident. Every announcement inspires more women to enter the space and empowers them to take the “yes-we-can” approach.

What message do you have for other female VPs and Marketing professionals in the community?

Women often question whether they are doing enough and feel the pressure to accomplish things constantly in order to prove themselves in a male-dominated industry. This self-doubt is heightened for female VPs, who typically find themselves managing a team composed largely of men.

To fight this, women can learn to be more confident in their decisions and remind themselves that they are good at what they do—or they wouldn’t be doing it! The key insight I’d like to share is that women (and everyone) should stand up for what they believe in, stick to their values, and don’t try to please everyone — it never works!

Tell us about Anzu.io’s Programmatic technology. How does it impact Premium Programmatic buying journeys?

Anzu is a pioneer in bringing the power of programmatic to console gaming and esports, making in-game advertising more effective. The platform is a game-changer, allowing brands to launch advertising campaigns in minutes with our programmatic tech. Combined with granular targeting and real-time data, this technology allows marketers to make better advertising decisions, improve performance, and thereby positively impact customer journeys.

Our platform allows for Public Marketplaces as well as Private Marketplaces to take brands and connect them with top-tier games. In this way, our approach to programmatic not only matches the KPIs but in many cases exceeds expectations.

Which Marketing and Sales technologies are you currently using at Anzu.io?

Finding the right Marketing and Sales technologies starts with understanding your business needs and customers. Marketing Automation is critical to defining the funnel and building a communication plan for each of the customer touchpoints, as well as post-analysis. The flow starts from a Sales CRM, where we identify the segments and understand the potential customers. We communicate with them via ads, email, and social to convert them into our customers. And finally, we seek to understand the post-conversion data in order to determine our next steps.

A lot of tracking and analytics tools have now made it easier for marketers to dive into slicing Big Data. Google Analytics, when approached in the right manner, is also a great tool that many don’t leverage to its full potential. I believe Marketing and Sales should have close cooperation in order to navigate the complexities of the customer funnel and offer our customers the best experience.

Which businesses and geographies are you currently marketing to? What’s your Ideal Customer Profile?

Anzu is continuously expanding its operations to bring in-game advertising to more and more businesses around the world. We welcome customers across the globe and our target audience is worldwide. For sure, a lot of our business is in the U.S. and Europe, which are sweet spots for us and other ad tech companies because of the growth of the market.

As marketers, our ideal customers are both brands and game studios who share our vision and ideas, who understand the value of the right advertising when it comes to exploring the potential of gaming, and who are ready to go in-game. We have already cemented some great exclusive partnerships with new-age game studios like Toplitz Productions and Vivid Games who are as forward-thinking as us when it comes to expanding the boundaries of in-game advertising. We’re currently adding new names that will be announced soon!

How are users accepting in-game advertising? How do you think it is improving user experience?

As a marketer, I am trying to continuously communicate with our direct customers and end-users, which are the gamers. I am happy to get a lot of positive feedback about our pioneering blended advertising solution that adds realism to the games.

We have found in-game advertising in its most natural and authentic form is well-accepted by the gamers and works as an alternative to standard advertising or upfront payment for games. But of course, you cannot make advertising work for all – there is a small percentage of gamers who want escapism in the games and for them, there’s no place for advertising at all.

What do you think about the future of in-game advertising? How are your customer expectations evolving?

In-game advertising has come a long way from where it began. With the evolution of games as well as Ad Technology, it will become more and more sophisticated. When we used to talk to brands about gaming as an advertising medium, they failed to see enough value and were not motivated to move into space. They simply lacked knowledge about the medium’s potential. Now, in a short period of time, brand attitudes towards in-game have changed.

Advertisers have become more responsive towards exploring in-game advertising and they now understand what they can achieve with this medium. The evolving customer mindset has also helped drive this evolution. As more and more brands take to in-game, and PC and console developers open their games to advertising, I expect in-game advertising, with its access to vast unexplored audiences, will take its rightful place in the advertising ecosystem.

Tell us about one unique moment from industry that changed your perception about Marketing and Sales.

I entered Marketing when I was young and full of expectations. Some people take a negative approach to marketers as people who are always trying to sell you something! But marketing is much more than just selling a product and helping the Sales team close deals. It is the starting point of a dialogue with the existing and potential customers. These conversations can take place multi-channel.

Witnessing tons of examples on how much marketing can help to convert a startup into a billion-dollar corporation and renowned brands has been a turning point for me as a marketer. It’s amazing to see the beauty and power of marketing and how, with tiny and elegant moves, you can not only win the hearts of the customers but also change the future of a company for decades to come, cementing its place within an ecosystem.

What are your predictions for Digital Advertising in 2020?

I am excited to see how Digital Advertising evolves with the promise of 5G. We will be able to do so much with in-game advertising, such as offering ads with richer content to users. There is going to be an increased focus on Omnichannel as well, which will integrate the messaging for these users.

Data privacy continues to remain a focal point of advertising conversations, especially in a post-GDPR era. The industry was still grappling to understand this within a European context when the California Customer Privacy Act came into force recently, bringing further changes to the dynamics of how companies will prepare themselves to serve customers in an era of increased privacy regulations. That’s something that we will continue to watch. As we navigate this, I also expect to see further consolidation and standardization of the industry, offering more value to the end customer.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing Leader?

As a tech company, we are already heavily dependent on AI and Machine Learning. For MarTech, I look forward to a greater adoption of AI technologies in anticipating where our customers go, and how we can improve the customer journey using these advancements.

AI is important for Predictive Analytics, and as it makes further advancements in the industry, marketers will be able to gain greater insights into Marketing data and apply those insights across channels in order to integrate Marketing efforts—not only for more precision targeting of the user journey, but also to build our product roadmaps based on a sense of what our customers want.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

You cannot achieve success without a passion for building things, or without a team to put your trust behind. The most successful tech people are also dreamers who not only believe in their product but also believe in working together to build better tech for tomorrow.

Each day is a new inspiration for our team to take our product higher and derive more value for our business. My belief in the product and results-driven approach inspire me to give my best daily, and I think this has an effect on my team, too! Getting the first results is a big motivator, and my team and I are inspired to work on making the results better every day. We encourage a positive and open feedback mechanism and have built a unique culture that motivates our employees to drive innovation.

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

The Face of FacebookSheryl Sandberg, their COO, who led the platform in good and bad times 🙂

It has been inspiring to see how she, as a senior leader at Facebook, has nailed some of the biggest deals for the platform and managed it confidently during a crisis.

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

Natalia Vasilyeva has worked in the AdTech industry since 2013. A hands-on marketer with extensive experience across different business domains, Natalia is a former project and marketing manager for Glispa and Sport.com.

She has been passionately advocating for Anzu and its ability to change the face of the AdTech industry since day one.

anzu.io logo

Anzu.io is an in-game advertising platform that brings real-world brand ads to video gaming and esports. Backed by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, WPP, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures, Anzu redefines digital advertising through seamless integration of non-intrusive ads into the gameplay. Bringing real-time data and programmatic capabilities to the video gaming world, the platform promises native advertising, brand safety, and ad viewability

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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