Building Blocks: Marketing Tech

Building Blocks: Marketing Tech


Read this interview with FM’s Ryan Nathanson originally published on MarTech Advisor. 

1. Could you tell me a little about yourself and how you came to be the Vice President Digital Strategy & Ad Operations at Federated Media?

I embraced technology and the Internet at an early age. By the time I was in college, I was working with friends to build web-enabled experiences as fun side projects for ourselves and, sometimes, for small businesses.  At the time, print was going digital so a good portion of the small businesses I worked with were publications pivoting to include digital as their print subscriptions dwindled. From there I continued a path in digital publishing. I joined Federated Media (FM) in 2009, when the company was just a small startup. In startups you get to wear many hats and gain wide ranges of experiences very quickly. When I started at FM, I was in charge of executing these custom publishing campaigns and did so successfully and efficiently. The success stemmed from my ability to identify and leverage technology and partners to help scale processes and execution while providing added value back to the advertiser.

2. Are you happy with the buy-in for Marketing Technology that exists at Federated Media? Do you think the investments being made are adequate or could be more?

“Within the last few years, marketing technology has become an arms race and the winner is usually the latest, freshest platform that has had the advantage of fresh investment. Since technology is constantly evolving and changing, the winner of this arms race seems to turnover every six months.”

Trying to keep up is an expensive proposition. Balancing the right mix of investment in proprietary marketing technology and partnerships has always been a strong point for FM. By building in-house, where specific niche solutions (or “special sauce”) were needed, we were always able to provide the latest in strategy, products and delivery for our customers.

3. What is the key problem you are attempting to solve with marketing technology implementation – could be 360 customer view, better customer experiences, crafting better journeys, full circle attribution?

There is an ever-growing list of challenges that we look to marketing technology to solve. Most notably, those challenges include customer experience (e.g. analytics dashboards), crafting a better user experience (e.g. better content and ad experiences), as well as executing and measuring our data to optimize our customer journey and cross-screen products.

4. What are some of the challenges your team faces from a technology & integration perspective?

The challenges lie in the rapidly evolving technology and in how to stitch the disparate solutions together to be as applicable to our business as possible.  Marketing technology is fragmented and many are designed to be one-size-fits-all in order to address the largest section of the marketplace.  In our industry, however, one size does not fit all and no one solution can meet every end-to-end need. So, although we look to leverage marketing technology to solve for the heavy engineering lift, we find ourselves having to do something different:

“Integration engineering, meaning engineering ways for two systems to talk to each other so the output gets closer to the full solution we require.”

It’s always a challenge to ensure that the lift required to partner with a certain technology does not exceed the lift that would have been required to build it yourself.

5. What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech cos across so many categories? Do you feel spoilt for choice or is it just more of a chore to evaluate additional options?

Generally, the explosion of marketing technology across categories is a positive thing. It’s a good indicator of how our technological capabilities, as an industry, are progressing. It also enables new businesses to rapidly move through their life cycle – from a startup to a full-scale company

6. What is the one area of investment you’d like to make in the immediate future from a marketing tech perspective?

We look to continue to invest in tools and technology helping us surface influential creators across social and the web, as well as new methods of message distribution to consumers in ways that appease both the advertiser and the user.

7. Build your own stack or buy into a pre-built martech cloud – what team are you on?

Integrator. Build your special sauce where you have to, diversify your technological risk and advancement by integrating everything else. By that, I mean there has to be a mix of in-house tech and martech solutions in any given stack. Doing so ensures you have something that is highly customized to your business, while a good portion of it is easily future proof by unplugging old martech and plugging new in.

8. Could you share for our readers, an infographic, list or description depicting your marketing stack (various marketing software products or platforms your team uses or subscribes to)?

We work with ad-servers, data management platforms, social and search tools.