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INTERVIEW Ad Tech Guru Talks Industry EvolutionWhen it comes to understanding marketing in the mobile age, few understand it better than Matt Rizzetta, President and CEO of the North 6th Agency (N6A).

This week, NativeMobile sat down with Rizzetta for a lengthy discussion about advertising technology.

Within the ad/tech sector, specifically, N6A has built its reputation into one of the leading PR and marketing service providers. How did they do it and what can others learn from their prowess?

Check out our exclusive interview below for more.

NM: N6A has extensive experience in the ad/tech industry. Can you tell us more?

Matt: Sure. While our client base and expertise is pretty broad, we’ve found a lot of success within the ad/tech domain, having represented companies that span the entire ad/tech landscape, including data technology companies, publisher-facing platforms, email service providers, marketing automation/CRM, mobile marketing platforms, digital media and search solutions, SaaS, marketing consulting organizations, and so on.

Additionally, we have extensive experience with ad/tech companies that cater to specific verticals, including retail, telecom, politics, healthcare, and financial services.

NM: What has changed for ad/tech companies in their approach and priorities when it comes to PR recently?

Matt: Without question the ad/tech sector has undergone a massive transformation over the past few years. When we’re speaking to clients and prospects in the ad/tech industry it’s clear that the audience that matters to them is vast, and no longer limited to just the ad/tech junkies as was the case a few years ago. Now we’re seeing business executives, sales professionals, IT decision makers, and everyone in between paying attention to the ad/tech sector and following the headlines that are impacting the industry in a way they never had before. Because our client base and expertise within the ad/tech sector is broad — it’s not limited only to a specific subset of ad/tech — in a sense this has really played to our advantage.

Having a broad portfolio and skillset, this has really played into our hands since we can approach ad/tech clients with a unique combination of domain expertise in the ad/tech space, as well as with strong relationships and competencies on a mainstream level. The ability to get deep into the trenches and speak the mother tongue of the ad/tech experts in the trade press and then switch on a dime to resonate with the mainstream press is in high demand.

NM: How do you approach a PR campaign for an ad/tech client in today’s environment as opposed to a client that’s in a different industry?

Matt: Great question. As the needs of ad/tech clients have evolved through the years, we have found that structuring our teams at N6A with two personas in mind has been most effective: (1) junkies, and (2) newsjackers.

The junkies are the ones who are real ad/tech experts, and depending on the client, have a background in whatever ad/tech discipline is relevant to the client; data, mobile, search, email, publishing, CRM, you name it. The role of the junkies is to blanket anything that requires a real ad/tech knowledge base for the client. So things like trade press pitching, speaking abstracts, industry award submissions, messaging development, would be a few that come to mind.

On the other hand, the newsjackers are the ones with a broader skillset. They might not be as deep into the ad/tech weeds as our junkies, but these are the ones who can connect the dots and figure out a way to take a very complex ad/tech story and make it resonate with the national/business media who might not be as conversant as the trade press. To the majority of business press contacts who are still becoming familiar with ad/tech, phrases such as DMP, DSP, ESP, RTB, might as well be jumbled letter combinations in a game of Scattegories.

It’s a unique balance, but one that we find to be extremely effective for today’s ad/tech clients who are looking for both industry awareness as well as broader mainstream exposure.

NM: Are there any trends that you’re following in the ad/tech industry that have piqued your interest as of late?

Matt On the M&A side you wouldn’t have a pulse if you didn’t get excited about all the news and headlines that are being made in ad/tech. It seems like every day we’re reading about a new entrant to the space, a high-profile acquisition or IPO, or a record-setting fundraising round. I’ll never forget in the course of one week receiving calls from a trio of our ad/tech clients. One of whom gave us a heads-up about raising a new round of funding, another one who was gearing up for an IPO, and then another one who was positioning themselves for a sale. Now if that’s not a full week I don’t know what is!

I was joking with our team just the other day that the only thing that’s predictable about ad/tech right now is its unpredictability. That’s probably the best way to summarize the historic times the industry is facing right now.

NM: Are there any particular areas of ad/tech that you’re bullish on right now?

Matt: (Laughs) I need to be careful about what I say here since we have clients from all walks of ad/tech. There are a few that come to mind right away, although I’m surely missing a few.

It’s really interesting to be a part of the data space, and in particular, DMP, right now. We’ve been working with Lotame for the past few years, so we’re heavily invested and following the developments of the DMP space in real-time. Obviously the Oracle acquisition of BlueKai has brought DMPs from the back pages to the headlines, and has turned it into one of the most talked about trends not only in ad/tech, but across the entire technology landscape.

Beyond the DMP space, we’re constantly getting flooded with press inquiries on RTB, programmatic, cross-device, measurement, and email technology trends. Those would be some other areas that we’re following real closely right now.

NM: Can you tell us about some of your more memorable campaigns and how you executed for the clients?

Matt That’s an interesting question, especially because every client campaign presents unique challenges and complexities in its own way. Two campaigns that we’ve been extremely proud of through the years are Lotame and SiteScout, for a totally different set of reasons.

SiteScout was a client that engaged with N6A before they were well known beyond the trade press and outside of the Canadian market, so we literally worked with their management team to build their brand, and establish credibility, from scratch. Fast forward to 2013 and their reputation was solidified as an undisputed leader in the mobile ad and DSP space, and they were ultimately acquired by ad/tech giant Centro. Being able to build a brand from scratch and watch it grow presents its own set of challenges, but if successful, the end result is incredibly gratifying. In the case of SiteScout, our team’s efforts were recognized by Centro, and we were engaged by them post-acquisition to keep the momentum going. It’s really been an incredible partnership at every step of the way.

In the case of Lotame, they already had a leadership presence in the data space before they engaged with our team. However they had pivoted their positioning and evolved their offering, so we approached it from day with many of the same tactics and strategies that we would for a start-up client. Lotame has brought incredible innovation and forward thinking to the data space from day one, so our program for them has always been rooted in thought leadership strategies, commentary around topical industry news, seasonal pitch strategies, and leveraging the unique insights of their executive team. And right now you look at the DMP space, and Lotame is a prime example of a company that is positioned perfectly at the right place at the right time. So as far as we’ve come together we’re really just scratching the surface, and the potential is limitless.

These are two that come to mind right away, but there are so many others that we’re incredibly proud of. We’re in our fifth year of working with Iron Horse Interactive, our fourth year of working with Acquisio, and have had some incredible wins together through the years. Interactions Marketing, Daymon Worldwide, and more recently, clients like Kii, Targeted Victory and Vivaldi Partners Group, all have been great partners of ours. We’ve also been through several exciting acquisitions and IPOs with our clients, including Songza (acquired by Google), StackMob (acquired by PayPal), TagMan (acquired by Ensighten), Zeta Interactive (acquired by XL Marketing and PM Digital), IMS Health, and others.

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