Diana Loriot is global head of service at Sociomantic Labs and leads the client services teams. ExchangeWire speak to her about global trends in digital marketing, the challenges of transitioning into new cultures, and the deplorable lack of women in ad tech.
ExchangeWire: What are the big global trends that will impact data-driven marketing in the next three years?
Diana Loriot: The future of data-driven marketing is personalisation, as advertisers are eager to understand their customers and potential customers inside-out in order to influence their buying behaviour with relevant ads.
However, the level of data detail that is required to execute effective and ethical personalisation is one reason why advertisers are demanding the industry to become more transparent. They want to work with technology partners who can offer deep insights and reliable service. The challenge for technology companies is to find a way to offer transparency for a fair price – one that satisfies the advertisers’ ROI goals and, at the same time, makes it possible for tech companies to invest in innovation on the client’s behalf.
Then, we have the unresolved equation between desktop, mobile, app, TV, offline, and more channels we still haven’t dreamed of. No matter how well we think we understand people’s journey, there is always a black hole, a time lag, a lapse in the data memory, providing a non-determinate, biased analysis. This equation needs to be resolved immediately by the industry.
How do you think those trends will differ in different regions of the world?
The online industry will keep growing as we constantly give way to new generations of data management and better infrastructures. In general, APAC will keep rapidly growing, especially the emerging markets, because the online business saturation still has a lot of space to grow in this region. North America will remain on the second growth position, followed by Europe and LATAM. And we will be able to observe an interesting development – recent business players, such as brands, CPGs, groceries, or finance verticals, might be some of the main proponents of growth in the more mature markets.
What are the challenges of leading a global team, and what do you do to overcome them in order to share knowledge and best practice for client benefit?
Of course, the methodologies that work in one country do not necessary work in another, as teams’ and clients’ requirements tend to differ among regions. This is why services and solutions must be adaptable to fulfil clients’ needs, while at the same time preserving our core values. This means, you can’t set strict rules, you can’t generalise. First you need to understand and listen to teams around the world, as they are a mirror of their clients and talk on their behalf. Secondly, you have to understand your industry and your business at a deep level in order to work successfully. Basically, the challenge is not to work with so many different teams, rather it is to speak one common language, and be polyvalent enough to work and think in all directions.
It’s also crucial to ensure that all levels of the organisation understand the value of sharing and accessing knowledge, to surround yourself with the best professionals – trust them and be sure they can, and do, put their trust in you.
After launching Sociomantic’s APAC business from Berlin, you later moved to Mumbai, India, to take over as commercial director for the business there. What were the biggest challenges you faced in that transition between markets, and how did you overcome them?
The differences between markets and regions are substantial: everything from how to organise, the conception of work and priorities, the forms of communication, business formalities and interests, pretty much everything. For any German, for instance, a natural way of ensuring efficiency at work is unequivocallly organisation, structure, and detailed planning of the task to be performed. In India, as well as in other regions, in many instances, organisation of tasks can generate inefficiency, waste of time and high frustration for those performing the tasks. In order to work efficiently and successfully, you must learn to improvise – you need both physical and temporal space to react to unexpected facts.
However, the greatest challenge for me came before moving to India. There were communication barriers, the market at that time lacked an understanding of programmatic capabilities, and we offered little room for negotiation (a fact which was unacceptable from the Indian point of view), among many other factors. But once advertisers tried our solution, the takeoff was rapid. What helped most was that the word-of-mouth is worth a lot in India – our clients did a great job evangelising our product.
You have now worked in digital advertising for more than five years. Have you seen a change for women working in the industry since you started? What advice do you have for any young women who are looking to work in tech?
Changes in the tech industry are more symbolic than tangible. It is necessary that we make a conscious effort to get women into tech positions, in order to build more female-friendly environments. This is not only a corporate responsibility, but the culture and government of each country play an important role, too. When I think of ‘women in tech’, I don’t necessary think of women who code, specifically, but the whole female infrastructure sustaining the business, which means every role from designers to sellers.
Although women currently make up an average of only 30% of the people working in the digital sector (differing numbers from country to country), and while it is undeniable they are under-represented at all levels, I have had the chance to meet great female industry leaders and inspiring professionals. We do see more females holding decision-making positions for sure; however, we are still far away from equality.
I would give the same advice to anyone looking for a job. We, as people, rather than as women, are free to choose our way. Fight for your own interests, speak up, look for a working environment where you feel you are represented and where your work is valued at all levels. Get a good sense of the company culture before accepting a job. Most importantly, be confident of your capabilities.