An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Be personable. Studies have shown that consumers like it when brands are funny or say things that they agree with, and plenty of stories have been written about viral tweets from brands like Wendy’s.

As a part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Nadia Gonzalez, CMO, Scibids.

Nadia is the CMO for Scibids, the global leader in artificial intelligence for digital marketing. She brings more than 15 years of marketing experience to the position, including senior marketing roles at Google, AdMeld, Sociomantic, Orchard Platform and her own marketing services firm where she supported early-stage adtech and fintech businesses globally.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was brought to adtech by needing to find a different job early on in my career. One of my first jobs, at a law firm in New York City, was reminiscent of all of the awful elements of the “Devil Wears Prada” — non-stop phone calls on weekends, daily 8 am F-bombs from my bosses and forced phone calls where the all-male partners ridiculed the assistants. I was depressed, and couldn’t find a way out no matter how many interviews I lined up.

A career coach told me to expand my network and meet with as many people as possible, and I took that to heart. One day in 2007, I was introduced to Ben Barokas, who was working at an online advertising network. I told him about some previous experience I had in television production, hoping he could help me connect it to digital media as digital advertising startups were really taking off. He told me that my experience had nothing to do with adtech. I thought that was that, but six months later he called me. He had just started AdMeld, a yield optimization platform for online publishers, and offered me a job. Ben agreed to give me a chance to learn about adtech, and I would help him manage his quickly growing startup.

What I lacked in adtech experience I made up for in knowing how to run an office and how to find solutions to problems. From day one I was exposed to everything it takes to operate a software startup. It was amazing to be part of a team that was growing in such a hot industry. I could not have dreamed it at the time, but in 2011 Google bought AdMeld for $500 million, and I became a Google employee.

That experience and the Google pedigree led to opportunities for me to take a seat at the table in senior marketing roles in two additional tech acquisitions, including one in the fintech space. With more than fifteen years in tech, I’m now CMO of Scibids, a Paris-based technology company that builds artificial intelligence for digital marketing.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One mistake I made in my early days in marketing was not paying attention to detail and rushing through proofing materials. When something goes to print and it’s misspelled, it is a significant problem. I was devastated when I realized my oversight. At the time, I had a boss that sternly looked at me and said, “I won’t tell anyone, but this will never happen again.” I made sure it didn’t.

My advice to less experienced marketers who have worked for me is to slow down, take a break and read it again before asking me to do a final sweep. It takes a team and it’s ok to ask for help, but it’s also important to do your best!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What pulled me to Scibids in the first place is exactly what makes us stand out. We create customizable, sophisticated AI that dramatically improves paid media performance without third-party cookies or other digital identifiers for ad decisioning — and does better than more traditional methods that aren’t consumer friendly. Our approach is all about putting privacy first. I’ve seen a lot in the adtech space, but I hadn’t seen technology like this before joining Scibids.

For example, when we began working with an online retailer, we had to build a better, more efficient video campaign on the open internet compared to the retailer’s efforts on YouTube. We didn’t need to look at the same data other companies would have — we built our bidding models on impression level data and conversion feeds.

With that, we reduced the cost-per-qualified-visitor by 71% compared to the YouTube campaign the client was running — and produced the kinds of results that our client was looking for.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Scibids continues to rapidly expand; we opened an office in Canada earlier this year. Right now, my biggest project is the global go-to-market strategy. As privacy becomes a bigger concern around the globe, my chief concern is making sure that we convey our privacy-friendly image first.

This will help people by making advertising less targeted in the sense that it uses less personally identifying information and data. The more Scibids grows, the more we’re able to give people some of their privacy back.

How would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Branding is about who you are as a company and how that makes consumers feel. It’s about eliciting trust, inspiring loyalty, and building a positive relationship with consumers. Companies like Google, Samsung, Amazon, and more put a lot of effort into their branding.

Advertising and product marketing, on the other hand, is about what you are offering to consumers — making them aware of what makes your product different or better and then encouraging them to make purchases.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand for a tech startup, in addition to just general marketing and advertising efforts?

It’s simple: people like doing business with people and, by extension brands, that they like. Edelman’s research, for example, shows that a brand relationship goes beyond just buying a product — it means eliciting real emotions, building a sense of kinship between the brand and the customer, and continued interactions.

While advertising and marketing are always important, especially to make the first contact with a new consumer, building a brand is what keeps that consumer with you in the long term. It’s what inspires their loyalty and turns them into evangelists for you, organically growing your business.

Can you share 5 strategies (and examples if you have them) that a tech company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand?

  1. Be personable. Studies have shown that consumers like it when brands are funny or say things that they agree with, and plenty of stories have been written about viral tweets from brands like Wendy’s.
  2. Make sure your tech says what you say it can do. If you’re not reliable, you aren’t eliciting the positive emotions you need to build relationships with your consumers. Microsoft had spent years building relationships with techies around the world with its Office suite, Windows OS, and more, and then it launched the Zune, which not only had to compete with the iPod, but then had issues with glitches like Zunes freezing in 2009 because they were unable to handle leap years.
  3. If you’re high tech, you need to be high touch. Low-touch advertising is easy for consumers to tune out. When I worked at AdMeld, we had some of the most sophisticated publishers entrusting us with their discretionary inventory because of the level of managed services we provided. Technology can do a lot that people can’t do, and we certainly know that at Scibids. AI is better than humans at certain tasks, like computing optimal prices to respond to bid requests, automating complex processes, and making data actionable. But more importantly, AI is also able to increase the quality of insights for humans to leverage and elevate our work, allowing us humans to use the human touch more effectively, which is what customers care about in the end.
  4. Sing from the same songbook. No matter your communication method, make sure it adheres to your agreed-upon style. Take Coke’s legendary mistake of introducing New Coke and immediately discontinuing Coca-Cola — and getting rid of the iconic cursive logo in favor of something that looked hopelessly outdated to our modern eyes. It’s not just about logos, though; it’s about setting the right tone with each interaction, using consistent formatting, and more.
  5. Use your customers to advocate for you and don’t forget thought leadership. Trust begets trust — so if a customer is willing to stick up for your brand, that signals you must be doing something right. Leverage those positive connections, and you’ll build a better brand each time.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Suma Wealth. They are a small fintech startup, but they’re doing big things. Their founder and CEO, Beatriz Acevedo, has built big brands before, particularly media empires that know how to speak to U.S.-born Latino Millennial and GenZ youth. She did this once before with the video ad network Mitu, and she’s at it again with Suma Wealth, the leading financial technology company devoted to increasing prosperity, opportunity, and financial inclusion for young, U.S. Latinos. She’s teaching the next generation of Latinos to build wealth and does so in ways that are in-culture to build trust and speak to the Latino and American heritage that is their legacy. I wish this platform existed when I was in my 20s!

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

It’s a little different because you’re not necessarily advertising to the masses. All the same, mindshare is very important in determining the success of a branding campaign.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

LinkedIn and Twitter are the most important in the B2B side of marketing and branding. While you have to keep it professional, there’s plenty of room to make fun, insightful content that sticks with your potential customers.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Take a break! I know it’s hard to do — but when you walk away, you’re able to reduce stress and may even get some new insights into a particularly difficult problem. I work for a French company and recently learned that it’s illegal to eat lunch at your desk! How about that for promoting work-life balance.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Imagine a world where disinformation and misinformation just didn’t exist. We’ve seen the kind of role that disinformation can play in fomenting conflicts and otherwise weakening societies. If we could really make an effort to fight disinformation, I think we’d be much better off.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I learned this in a monastery from a Buddhist nun: “When in doubt, do nothing. Think about the task and ask.”

When I switched to adtech, I had to use this a lot. I didn’t know anything about adtech, but if I wasn’t able to stop and ask, I didn’t do anything that could have resulted in future problems until I could ask. The more I practiced this, the more I was able to learn and succeed together with the rest of the team, and I believe that teamwork is what made the company successful enough to be purchased by Google. I bring that lesson with me everywhere I go in my career.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Stacey Vanek Smith: I loved her book, “Machiavelli for Women.” To take “The Prince” and break it down the way she did for today’s women in the workplace is not only thoughtful and insightful but also brilliant!

Dwayne Johnson: Does this need justification? I think he’s so cool and he’s a girl dad!

Dolores Huerta: Simply a legend. She’s a labor leader and civil rights activist on top of being Latina. I would keep pouring tea just to listen to her stories of struggle and triumph!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on Twitter: @nadia_gonzalez or follow Scibids on Twitter @scibids or LinkedIn:

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Nadia Gonzalez Of Scibids: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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