IT Digest Interview with Natalia Vasilyeva, Vice President Marketing, Anzu.io

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Natalia_Vasilyeva,_VP_Marketing,_Anzu.io

Anzu.io

Hi Natalia, could you tell us about your journey in the Marketing and Advertising industry? 

I first joined the world leader of mobile yoga and fitness apps, Sport.com, where I learned about the mobile marketing industry. Later, I moved to Glispa where I gained a much broader picture of the AdTech industry. Programmatic ads were on the rise, so there was more movement towards transparency, and more data-driven and multi-channel decisions.

When I joined Anzu right after the company was founded, that’s when my career started to grow on steroids! Anzu operates in super fast-paced industries, both advertising and gaming. So in a young company, being a jack-of-all-trades gave me a huge head start in terms of technology, marketing, and sales during those early days. I even managed to bring the first game onboard, so I’m really proud of that!

Now that we’re the leading in-game advertising company, my goal and Anzu’s mission is to make advertising in games better, and educate advertisers and developers about the opportunities advertising in games has to offer.

What challenges did the COVID-19 pandemic pose for you and your team?

The biggest and the best challenge for the team was fast growth. The gaming industry has been accelerated by the pandemic, which is a double-edged sword at times, because while it meant the company (and team) grew quickly, it also meant working from home during lockdowns, and working around family commitments.

We were lucky though. Advertising and AdTech had already experienced its ‘digital shift’, so the team were already prepared and felt at home working online in the digital space.

As a manager, I found it tough not seeing my team, or having the usual team-building experiences from catching up over a coffee to face-to-face meetings. As a manager, that can always be a struggle.

What sets Anzu.io apart from the competition?

Our best-in-class SDK technology is at the core of the company. Anzu’s patented, adaptive technology has evolved into a full suite of one-of-a-kind cross-platform AdTech integrations such as first-to-market ad viewability with Oracle MOAT, brand lift measurement, audience verification, data enrichment, and fraud detection in partnership with industry leaders such as Lumen, Nielsen, and HUMAN.

As a result, Anzu is the first in-game ad company to become Unity-verified, the only licensed middleware provider for Xbox, and has gained us fantastic support from strategic partnerships and investments from some of the world’s biggest advertisers and gaming companies, including NBCUniversal, HTC, Sony Innovation Fund (their first ever investment into an advertising company), and WPP (who have just invested in us for the third time in a row).

Anzu even won the Best Tech Partner at The Drum Awards 2022. All of these are indicators that we are heading in the right direction as a company, and are a testament to the solidarity of our technology.

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How, according to you, has the Marketing and Advertising landscape evolved and will evolve in the coming years?

Marketing and advertising are two very fast-changing industries, especially in the programmatic days, which have evolved a lot. Now, they’ve moved into a period of consolidation and integrity. Now that the industries are at a mature stage, we’re navigating complex issues like privacy concerns, cutting out the middle men between game publishers and advertisers, and how we can measure the incremental value of marketing.

The industries still have a long way to go, since they (and Anzu) are becoming more complex. Gaming and the Metaverse is also a completely new space that we’re exploring, and it will be an exciting learning period for us all in the years to come.

How do you envisage AdTech evolving, in the years to come?

I believe we will start seeing the consolidation of marketing, advertising, and AdTech like never before. Different technologies will need to work together to solve complex advertiser issues and contribute to a company’s marketing mix as a whole, not a separate add-on.

Personalization will also be an issue that AdTech will need to solve. While everybody wants personalized ads, they’re extremely reluctant to share personal data for them. With the challenges of GDPR, privacy regulations, and a cookieless future, how can marketers and advertisers deliver this relevant ad to a specific user at a specific time?

Looking forward, marketeers need to be ready for new environments, and ready to operate in an AdTech landscape where the user rules the world!

What are your views on the evolution of advertising in video gaming?

I absolutely love advertising in games! Being part of a super fast-evolving industry, witnessing the rise of the new channel, and getting to be part of the nurturing process, and among the first preachers of this beautiful and limitless medium is fantastic. It’s the perfect balance of the right technology with the right mindset at the right time.

Anzu has been around for five years, and we’ve already seen many shifts in the way that advertisers and developers treat in-game advertising. Agility is key here, and we need to be versatile as an industry to keep up, especially as gamers and game developers have started to play a more crucial role in how advertising operates.

How, according to you, has Marketing Automation impacted the traditional Sales and Marketing funnels?

Marketing automation has hugely impacted the traditional sales and marketing funnels. The key here is execution. If done correctly, marketing automation can help to boost sales ten times over. The area is still young, so there are still challenges in these early stages, from technological connectivity to machine learning to human expertise.

We’re living in an AI-powered world, where robots already do surgery. So why not automate your marketing flows and let technology do the job? It doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax – it just means we can be ten times more effective than without it.

Could you name the Top 5 apps/platforms that you use for Marketing?

  1. HubSpot
  2. Google Suite
  3. Newzoo
  4. Zoom
  5. Meltwater

Could you name one other VP of Marketing that you would like to see featured here?

I’d like to see the VP Marketing of Mailchimp featured. Their transformation from an email marketing provider to a more powerful and complex marketing automation platform is interesting. As one of the marketing automation leaders, it would be great to hear how they treat automation. It’s always good to hear from a marketer working in a marketing company!

As a MarTech Leader, what is the one piece of advice you would give to those who aspire to make a career in marketing?

The best piece of advice I could give for those early-stage marketeers is – “think about tomorrow, not just today.”

When planning your short-term strategies, always keep your long-term goals you want to accomplish. Make sure each step you take in your marketing is getting closer towards your end-goal, and don’t be distracted by marketing fads that won’t serve you in the long run.

Thanks, Natalia!

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