Interview with CEO, AffinityX – David McTarnaghan


“We are laser focused on enabling our clients to grow profitability by enabling their own customers to grow and succeed”

1. Tell us about your role in AffinityX?
AffinityX is the white label marketing and creative services provider behind some of the world’s best media companies, marketing services companies, agencies and other leaders in local. Our purpose-built technology, global team, and world-class infrastructure delivers more than 5 million fast-turn jobs per year, from logos to websites to programmatic advertising and beyond.

In my role as CEO, I bring management and operational expertise to lead a successful and unified global business that includes more than 2200 employees separated by oceans and cultures, but united by mission. I am passionate about maintaining a cohesive worldwide organization and cultivating a dynamic and rewarding work environment while helping customers successfully tackle their toughest efficiency and growth challenges. I’m extremely proud of the breakthrough results the AffinityX team delivers for our clients — I think it’s fair to say that no other company can match our quality and cycle times for designing and delivering digital products and services at scale.

I think my role is to help our AX team live our manifesto:

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
AffinityX was drawn into digital by listening to our clients needs and expanding services in support of our clients. We conducted a strategic review of our business six years ago and changed our focus on digital services – and to enable revenue growth and optimize costs as our customers expand their digital businesses`.

Prior to AffinityX, I was SVP of Global Sales at Viziqor, a billing and revenue management software company, where I led the sales organization in new customer wins and expansion from the U.S. market to North America, UK, CALA (Caribbean and Latin America), South America, Australia and Oceana. That company realized sales gains in excess of 700% and successfully completed an IPO in 2000.

Earlier in my career, I was General Manager in Southern California for Fujitsu Business Systems, overseeing all day-to-day operations of the business in the company’s second largest market in the U.S.

I joined AffinityX because I was intrigued with the value of design services and wanted to help scale a design services model using my prior experience of leveraging technology to create a scalable services platform.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
For at least two decades, advances in technology have helped to upgrade marketing and advertising. All the way from the birth of the Internet, to the dot com boom, the era of digital advertising and email marketing, the dawn of programmatic and the rise of social media — technology is constantly helping marketers up their game. They have more channels and platforms than ever before to reach their target customers more easily and cost-efficiently. And of course technology has done as much to change the way we all consume content and interact with brands, news and information, social interactions, purchase goods and services, etc.

Of course, all the choices out there can be quite daunting to the average advertiser or marketer, so we pride ourselves at AffinityX on helping our clients harness marketing and advertising technologies to remain highly competitive, best serve their customers and improve the bottom line.

4. Location-based marketing is trending in the Martech world; how is it benefitting marketing professionals?
Today, all marketing is local — in fact at AffinityX we have dubbed this the “Age of Local.” Essentially, you win or lose marketing skirmishes based on local relevance and this is true for major brands and their agencies as well as companies whose bread and butter has always been local, such as hospitals, real estate agents, auto dealerships, and the advertising and media companies who service them.

Location-based marketing is just one arrow in the local marketing quiver, but it’s an important one. BIA/Kelsey forecasts $22.1 billion will be generated by sellers of location-targeted mobile ads this year. Multi-location brands are spending 25% of their budgets on location-based marketing and more than 50% are using location data to target customers, representing billions of dollars, according to a survey of 500 marketers by the Local Search Association.

Those auto dealers, real estate agents, and mom and pop shops obviously benefit from geo-targeting to bring customers through their doors, but larger companies like Target, McDonald’s, or Costco do as well. Reaching the customer at the right time and place is paramount to any marketer and location-based marketing plays a big role in that. Google calls these “micro-moments” and reports that 82% of smartphone users say they check their phones regarding purchases they’re about to make in a physical store. That’s an amazing opportunity for a digital marketer to make an offer correlated to that person’s location and browsing behavior. The benefits here are clear.

5. How do you define your local marketing services?
Local marketing services encompases everything from training a radio salesperson on how to sell digital campaigns, to planning and executing multichannel campaigns for a newspaper’s advertisers, to creating a small business’ website and logo.

Examples of creative services that AffinityX provides includes logo design, marketing collateral, business documents (e.g. business cards, menus, stationary), signs, website and landing page design, videos, HTML5 banner ads (design and versioning).

Our ad operations services include programmatic digital media (planning, buying and campaign management) as well as social media, connected TV/OTT, SEM pay-per-click and SEO as well as online video ads.

Although digital offerings are an enormous part of what we provide to our clients, AffinityX’s legacy is in newspapers and we still offer pre-press, pagination and special sections layout to an extensive client base of local media companies.

6. What extraordinary features define your sales enablement platform?
Through our world-class sales enablement offering — which represents a combination of technology and human expertise — AffinityX has trained more than 5,000 sales reps to successfully sell multichannel digital and traditional media campaigns. We provide everything from the sales training, to producing the proposals, to the campaign media plan and creative, to launching and optimizing the campaign, reporting and renewals.

Our complete sales enablement growth engine provides a seamless, end-to-end experience for our clients’ advertisers, from the first sales call to the next campaign — and we’ve proven to increase order values by 50-100%.

7. How do you differentiate your programmatic advertising service in the market?
We provide a complete solution including the aforementioned sales training, sales proposals, reporting and renewals as well as human review of campaigns for optimization opportunities every week. AffinityX also produces the display and creative ad units, including advertising copy that help drive performance of the programmatic campaigns we manage. Our programmatic services are part of AffinityX AudienceX, an integrated platform that enables local media companies to sell campaigns that include programmatic, social, search, OTT, email and traditional media.

At AffinityX, we strongly believe that multichannel marketing is more effective than a single channel —and we are well equipped to provide our customers with the right tools to operate across channels.

8. What is the digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2019?
There will always be innovations in sales technology, but all that technology actually needs people to make decisions around how to best use it for the business and their clients, and how to optimize its use. At AffinityX we believe in “the hard work of making things easy” so our goal is to use the best combination of technology and services. I believe the expanded use of BI (business intelligence) tools to help analyze sales activity and performance marks 2019.

9. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
AI and machine learning undoubtedly hold great promise for the marketing world and across most industries and job functions. In some cases, they’re arguably already making a difference and in others, they’re wildly over-used buzzwords.

Regardless, I believe there is no future in which any industry becomes fully automated or where machines will rule the world. We will always need human oversight, ingenuity and creativity as part of a smart business strategy. The best way to prepare is to continue to invest not only in technology but also human talent, which we view as a cornerstone of our value proposition at AffinityX.

We believe people plus technology create the whole product solution.

10. What are the major developments you are planning?
We are laser focused on enabling our clients to grow profitability by enabling their own customers to grow and succeed. This will include a focus on expanding the use of technologies and processes that improve speed and scale of delivery and make things easier for our clients.

Recent developments we reported back in Q1 include welcoming Rachel Walkden as the company’s new Chief Operating Officer; appointing Amit Basak as Executive Chair, Board of Directors; and adding Steve Kezirian to the board. We also reported 25% revenue growth year-over-year (Q1 2018 vs. Q1 2019) and triple-digit growth for AudienceX, our turnkey digital revenue solution designed to ignite new revenue streams for local media companies.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
AffinityX has a culture that is supportive to everyone who is employed by the company. ELITE stands for Excellence, Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork, and Ethics and these guiding principles are representative of the way the company works, the focus we have and how things get done. We are a data driven company and are always looking to find win / win relationships between AffinityX and our customers.

12. What movie inspires you the most?
Groundhog’s Day is a funny movie that helps illustrate the power of persistence.

One of my favorite quotes about persistence is by Denis Waitely, author, speaker and productivity consultant: “Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning”.

13. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
Like most people, I am incredibly dependent on daily use of my phone — and the apps I use most are a rather long list!:

Google mail, Google calendar, Google maps, Skype, Google Drive, Spotify, LA Fitness, Find My, Google Voice,, Flight Tracker, Bonvoy, Snapchat, Facebook, BoA, SignNow, PL premier league, YouTube TV, Prime video, WSJ.

David is a Senior-level business leader with strong sales, operations and general management background within product and service industries. He has entrepreneurial company experience with success in digital advertising and marketing services, revenue growth and customer acquisition, operations, and service delivery, product and service innovation, process-flow improvement, new solution development and recruitment of talent.

AffinityX is the white label creative and marketing services partner behind the biggest names in local marketing. We are the secret weapon of the world’s best media companies, local agencies, marketing services companies, and more. Our purpose-built technology, local media expertise, and world-class infrastructure delivers more than 5 million fast-turn jobs per year, from logos to websites to programmatic advertising and beyond. AffinityX and Affinity Express are trademarks and sole property of Affinity Express, Inc.
For more information please visit our Website.

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