Emily Tan
Apr 15, 2016

How and why MediaMath is changing how it talks about itself

HONG KONG - Ad tech has been getting a bad rap lately and, as part of the industry, MediaMath has realised that it has to not only change the language it uses to speak about itself, but also alter the industry’s reputation as a whole.

Joanna O'Connell
Joanna O'Connell

This is the job its new CMO, Joanna O’Connell, took on when she joined MediaMath in October last year. “When Joe [Zawadski, founder and CEO of MediaMath] approached me, he said they needed someone who can take the firm's storytelling to the next level,” O'Connell told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

While the company is well known in tech circles, among the marketing community its story had stopped at “DSP”. “MediaMath has to learn to sell to people who are not just like them,” said O’Connell.

Take its original tagline for example. When O’Connell joined, the company’s brand promise was ‘Performance reimagined, marketing reengineered’.

“It was too nerdy," she said. "It didn’t capture the hearts and minds of the average person that heard it." So, one of the first things O'Connell did was reinvent it. Today, MediaMath promises ‘Strength in numbers’.

“In its earliest days, MediaMath was laser-focused on building great tech for the buy-side," she said. "The reality is though, today, when you talk about servicing enterprise level customers they want a partner who can provide expertise as well as technology.”

Her goal now, she added, is to expand the conversation so the people who form MediaMath are as much a part of marketer conversation as the technology they create.

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“It’s possible to tell complex stories that aren’t complicated," O'Connell said. "To speak a language that a marketer will understand. To share how your tech can make lives easier. To say, ‘Look at this beautiful thing we have built. We think you have this challenge and we can solve it this way’. No one else is doing this.”

But new language goes only part way. First, marketers need a better grip on the ad tech landscape—and fast. Unscrupulous players have taken advantage of the industry’s growing ignorance, and the ad tech bubble, inflated by the VC rush to startup tech, is in danger of bursting.

“Education about what we do is absolutely needed,” said O’Connell. “There is a real wide variation in sophistication and education about this stuff. Some marketers and agencies are wildly sophisticated about data-driven marketing. But there are many who have heard the term but don’t know what it means, or have preconceived notions that are partially true.”

As a means to address this, MediaMath rolled out its education and training arm, the New Marketing Institute (NMI) in the US in 2012. Yesterday, it launched the initiative in Asia-Pacific. The NMI offers courses and certification programs that provide training on programmatic techniques and technologies across different levels of digital-marketing proficiency.  

Establishing the arm in the Asia-Pacific is aimed at growing the entire programmatic space, which in turn will benefit MediaMath, Rahul Vasudev, APAC managing director, said in a statement. 

"Getting programmatic 'right' is easier said than done: It requires embracing new platforms and technologies, and honing strategies," O'Connell said, adding that MediaMath hopes to address the region's training and certification needs. 


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