Martech Interview with Amber Bracegirdle, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Mediavine

User experience is essential in advertising. There are various channels and strategies to make this right. Is there anything more that marketers are missing?

Creating newsletters and other experiences that entice the reader to get to know you, to invite you into their home through story-telling, like it used to be.

1. Being the co-founder and Chief Brand Officer at Mediavine, what is your take on the future of advertising?
Advertising has been around since the times of Greeks and Romans and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. The Privacy Era is just beginning, and I’m so excited to see how it improves user experience, because ultimately, improved user experience gives advertisers what they want too. And especially with logged in users that tell you exactly what they want, there will be a wealth of information for advertisers to ensure they’re reaching the exact right person they need to.

2. Programmatic ad spending is on the rise. Why do you think brands are investing in display ads more each year?
Like I said, advertising has been around since the time of the Romans. But digital advertising and programmatic especially, marks the first time that advertisers have been able to know for certain their ad has been seen, and by whom. What a time! Incredible to think about the power in that data. Even TV can’t drill down to a specific person within the household, but a programmatic display ad can. Having that direct ROI is powerful, and it’s why we will continue to see programmatic ad spend increase.

3. How can businesses attribute revenue to marketing?
Ah, the age old question, and one we deal with ourselves all the time. Sometimes you can attribute marketing efforts directly to an increase in ROI, and sometimes you can’t. We work tirelessly to check the heartbeat of our customers in myriad ways, from hosting a private Facebook group to evaluating how they interact with our social media and our website and blog regularly. Marketing online offers so many touchpoints that linear attribution isn’t always possible. That doesn’t mean you forgo doing it. Using various metrics across tools we use to engage with customers we’re able to put together a user story that helps us identify where the most time should be spent, and I think that’s as close as you can get sometimes to understanding the ROI of a specific marketing effort.

4. What role does anchor text play in user experience and overall SEO?
We believe strongly that good SEO helps not only search engines, but humans understand context and meaning quickly. Anchor text is one of the most straightforward ways to do that because describing what you are linking to, rather than something like “click here for..” helps a reader understand immediately where that link will lead them.

5. DSPs enable marketers to reach a wider audience. Could you elaborate on it?
From a technical standpoint, a Demand Side Platform, or DSP, is cloud software enabling advertisers or agencies to purchase and manage digital campaigns, in real time, across millions of websites. In marketing terms, DSPs allow brands to connect to those millions of sites and expand their reach through a number of targeting options. It is through DSPs that brands are able to target users by segments, by topics of interest, and behavior. Moreover, DSPs are more effective for branding, or getting an advertiser’s message out – at scale and in real time, and in measuring ad viewability, customer interaction with ads, and more – than traditional Direct Response avenues such as Facebook or Google AdWords.

6. What is eCPM? How can advertisers measure it?
Ah, I love a math quiz. eCPM, or effective Cost Per Mille (thousand), is how much revenue a website earns per 1,000 ad impressions served. To measure this, simply divide revenue by the number of ad impressions served to earn that revenue, then multiply that by 1,000.
For example, if your revenue yesterday was $500, and you serve 125,000 total impressions, here’s how that formula works:
eCPM = ($500 / 125,000) × 1,000
eCPM = 0.004 × 1,000
eCPM = $4
For every 1,000 impressions you receive, you make $4. Since we’re dealing with fractions of a cent for each individual impression, the 1,000 multiplier makes the numbers more quantifiable in real world terms. eCPM is often used as a crucial KPI in digital advertising, because it allows publishers to see how their ads are performing, and how to improve upon that by experimenting with different ad types, placements, and volume, to better optimize their sites.

7. Brands are tweaking their social marketing strategies. Do you believe TikTok will be a game-changer for advertisers?
I think any social media platform that has the eyeballs is where the advertisers will be, and for Gen Z and beyond, that place is currently TikTok, so yes, it will be a gamechanger, for as long as it has the viewership. I also really like that TikTok is providing experiences that are different to every other platform and we’re watching every other social media network and even search engines try to play catch-up by altering what they already offer users. So far those networks don’t seem to be gaining traction the way TikTok has, and TikTok is continuing to be the zeitgeist of the 2020s. It’s pretty incredible to watch, as someone that started using the internet before social media existed and we all just hung out in text chat rooms. That visual aspect can be so incredible for advertisers, as can the down-to-earth connection with followers. It reminds me of what blogging was like in the early 2000s, when you sometimes even became friends with your readers. That kind of authentic connection and influence can be incredible for a brand, either on their own or through a content creator, when the content creator is speaking authentically.

8. Why is first-party data now more crucial than ever?
End users, or readers as we like to call them at Mediavine, are savvier than ever. To them, the concept of third party cookies is simply becoming unacceptable. We’re seeing this bear out in legislation like CCPA and GDPR, and very much believe that the future is a more direct relationship with each reader that visits a website. There is opportunity in that relationship for a stronger, more privacy-centric internet that also rewards readers with great experiences and rewards content creators with better income for creating fantastic content. First party data will also reward advertisers in the form of the most dialed-in user you could ask for.
What we’re seeing now is an evolution 20 years in the making. Some of it is reminiscent of what the internet was like in the early aughts, where content creators knew their readers by name and sometimes even developed real-world friendships.

Creating newsletters and other experiences that entice the reader to get to know you, to invite you into their home through story-telling, like it used to be.

That’s so exciting to me as a content creator and a reader, and stupendously exciting as someone in the advertising ecosystem.
I think the value proposition for spending time creating those experiences is that the reader wants to log in and provide first-party data, not least because it will improve their ad experience too. I’m not interested in car ads, but show me every shoe ad on the internet because that’s relevant to my interests, and creates a better experience for the triad of reader, content creator and advertiser.

9. Do you think there are any implications of Google delaying the cookie phase-out?
I think Google, as much as any of us, wants to get this shift right. It’s huge and pivotal in ways I think we’ll look back on in 20 years to realize that’s when the internet became a more sustainable place. Advertisers have always found a way to market to their people, all the way back to Roman times. I don’t think the nature of advertising itself will shift, but the relationship between advertisers and readers just might. This is our opportunity to make that better on both sides of the equation. I’ve seen some folks say that the delays mean it will never happen, but I unequivocally disagree. End users are demanding a privacy-centric web, and Google, probably more than anyone, knows we’ve got to find innovative ways to give it to them. So the only implication I see is care and attention to getting this right.

10. As an organization, how is Mediavine creating an equal workplace for women?
This question is more all-encompassing than you think! Mediavine’s customers are overwhelmingly lifestyle creators, and overwhelmingly female. The last time we checked, the number hovered around 78% female. That’s more than 7,000 out of our nearly 10,000 that are woman-owned small businesses. Our company mission statement is helping them build sustainable businesses online, and we live that mission at Mediavine, day in and day out. We are intentionally playing a part in making the global workplace a more equal place for women, and that’s something I’m immensely proud of.
I am the first full-time woman that ever worked for Mediavine and I have to tell you that from day one, my experience has been nothing short of incredible. I’ve worked in tech throughout my career and I think we’ve all heard the justified stereotypes on being a female in this industry. It’s hard to be heard as a female in a male-dominated field and next to impossible to assert oneself without negative connotations. When I started working with my co-founders Eric, Matt and Steve, it felt right in ways I couldn’t quantify at the time, but I’ve been better able to realize a decade later — my thoughts and opinions have always been validated. I have been listened to and equally heard on any number of things. Mediavine is a safe space to admit that I don’t have an answer and work with my colleagues to find solutions that benefit everyone.
As a company we’re 51% female, with 45% female leadership at manager or higher, 42% VP or higher, and 47% of our new recruits are female; something that shouldn’t be the exception in any tech industry, but somehow is. When asked, 100% of employees responded in agreement to the statement “My employer enables a culture of diversity.” (based on employee survey data from January 2022.)
Along with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, this past year we also evaluated compensation across the company to be intentional about our philosophy of not just fair but competitive and equitable pay across the company.
We are also a new proud sponsor of Girls Who Code. With Engineering being Mediavine’s largest department, we wanted to be a part of the solution to bring more women into tech. Through this partnership we will not only contribute to the necessary increase of women in technology, we will also offer opportunities for our engineers to give back, in hopes of inspiring more young girls to lead while improving and transforming the future workforce.

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Amber Bracegirdle, Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer at Mediavine
Amber Bracegirdle is the Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer at Mediavine, an Advertising & Marketing company with an estimated 87 employees; founded in 2004. They are part of the Marketing team within the Marketing Department and their management level is C-Level.

Mediavine offers full service ad management including display ad optimization, video monetization and sponsored influencer marketing for original content creators.

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