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In this episode of The Marketing Rapport, host Tim Finnigan welcomes Nola Solomon, SVP of Go-to-Market at Criteo, for a deep dive into the intersection of marketing, technology, and consumer behavior. Solomon shares insights on the importance of engaging consumers across various touchpoints, from discovery to purchase, and the role of technology in facilitating this journey.
Nola and Tim discuss the nuances of go-to-market strategies, emphasizing the need for alignment between sales, marketing, and product teams. Nola highlights the significance of understanding market needs and ensuring that product development aligns with customer challenges. The conversation pivots to the evolving landscape of consumer behavior, particularly in the post-COVID era, noting the resurgence of physical stores and the necessity for brands to adopt omnichannel strategies.
The episode concludes with Nola stressing the critical role of first-party data in crafting personalized consumer experiences. She underscores the industry’s shift towards data-driven strategies to build trust and loyalty, and the challenges presented by changes in addressability and measurement. Nola’s expertise offers valuable perspectives for marketers aiming to navigate the complex digital advertising ecosystem effectively.
Privacy and Data Protection in Digital Advertising
Nola Solomon underscores the critical importance of consumer data protection in the digital advertising space. She explains that foundational measures must be in place across the industry to ensure that personal identifiable information remains secure. Nola emphasizes the need for privacy-safe solutions, particularly in light of the evolving digital landscape. She points out that while first-party data is essential, it must be handled in a way that respects consumer privacy and trust.
“It’s really about leaning into solutions that are privacy safe… every player in the ecosystem really needs to ensure that they have those right measures in place.”
The Critical Role of First-Party Data Amid Industry Changes
In this segment, Nola discusses the impending deprecation of cookies and its impact on brands. She highlights the urgency for brands to harness first-party data to maintain a comprehensive understanding of their consumers. Solomon points out that the ability to reach consumers with appropriate messages is under threat, making first-party data a crucial part of the solution for continued engagement and personalized marketing.
“First-party data is… a huge, huge part of that solve.”
The Evolution of Brick and Mortar in the Digital Age
Nola speaks to the evolving role of physical stores in the retail landscape. Despite the growth of online shopping, she notes that brick and mortar remains the primary point of purchase, accounting for a significant portion of retail sales. Solomon stresses the importance of connecting online and in-store experiences to cater to the consumer journey, ensuring that marketers have strategies in place to engage consumers wherever they choose to browse or buy.
“The consumer journey isn’t just taking place online or just in the store. It’s really about connecting the dots between those two environments.”
Addressability and the Future of Digital Advertising
Nola dives into the concept of addressability in advertising, identifying it as a key focus for the industry. She explains that organizations must develop strategies to adapt to the loss of third-party signals, emphasizing the importance of a multi-pronged approach. Nola discusses the need for collaboration within the ecosystem and the exploration of new methods, such as privacy sandboxes and partnerships with closed environments, to maintain effective consumer targeting.
“It’s really all about addressability… every organization… needs to be developing addressability strategies amidst the loss of third-party signals.”
[00:03:58] Nola Solomon: “Go-to-market is always about what the end customer is looking for and how we best reach them in order to help service their needs… everyone else in our space is in service to them.”
[00:08:18] Nola Solomon: “Physical stores are making a comeback… there is a blurring of the intersection between online and offline that’s requiring retailers and brands to step on the gas towards having a fully integrated omni-channel commerce future.”
[00:19:21] Nola Solomon: “Four in ten shoppers are starting to look for things in physical stores just to do discovery… this is really a huge opportunity for the retailers and the brands to invest in those omni-channel strategies to reach those consumers wherever they are.”
Nola Solomon: [00:00:00] Our tools obviously are set up to be able to allow marketers and retailers to. Engage with those consumers across the different touch points all the way from discovery and consideration through to path to purchase and point of sale. Um, and that’s done through a myriad of different tactics, depending on what they’re looking for and what their KPIs are just by using our technology.
Tim Finnigan: [00:01:00] Um, first of all, for the people that have listened before, thank you for coming back and for the people new to the Marketing Rapport podcast, I just want to level set, give you a foundation of what we stand for, um, why we created this podcast was. For, we created it for marketers by marketers.
So we have a ton of discussion on, um, marketing and we reach out to thought leaders and important people in the industry. And I reach out to people who I want to talk to and not only get their point of view on marketing, but their point of view on leadership. Um. And my name is Tim Finnegan and I head up product marketing within Verisk Analytics.
And why, um, I’m excited today is that we have the first ever repeat podcast guest and Nola Solomon. Welcome to the, welcome Welcome back to the podcast, Nola.
Nola Solomon: Thank you so much for having me. [00:02:00] I’m so excited to be back.
Tim Finnigan: Great. So Nola, you are SVP of go to market, which I want to get a whole discussion on go to market, but if you could just give everyone sort of a quick overview of who you are, maybe touch, cause you’ve got some great experience of working at NBC universal and trade desk and AOL, and now you’re at Criteo.
So just tell, maybe give a little people, a little overview of who Criteo is and who you are.
Nola Solomon: Yeah, absolutely. So Criteo is a global advertising technology company that helps marketers and media owners reach their goals through the world’s leading commerce media platform. So really offering technology services to power digital advertising to both demand sides of our ecosystem as well as the supply sides of our ecosystem.
Um, so, and my role leading go to market. I really serve along with my team as the bridge between the sales organization, the product organization, the marketing org, I’m really ensuring that we have a clear understanding of what the needs and challenges are of the market of our [00:03:00] customers generally, but also when it comes to our commerce media platform and that the product team has those inputs to help develop and influence what the product strategy and the development of that product roadmap needs to look like.
Thank you. And then once that’s landed, we work really closely with a number of different teams, um, to ensure that we have a very strong commercialization plan that includes rollout and enablement for our sales teams, our operations teams as well as for our customers directly who are hands on keyboard in our technology.
Tim Finnigan: So. I love that answer. And, and you and I’ve had a discussion about go to market and how often it’s, we, it, it’s realized that it’s important, but it’s often misunderstood. So what, what do you, how do you define go to market? Cause I mean, it’s in your title. You should really know. And, and, uh, sort of touch on how you view it as through, you know, sort of that customer centric lens.
Nola Solomon: Yeah, well, I mean, I think, you know. Go to market is always about [00:04:00] what is it that the customer, the end customer really is looking for. And how do we best reach them in order to help service their needs? So there are a lot of different kinds of customers along the chain and digital advertising. But the real end customer, of course, is the consumer.
It’s the user of digital technology that, you know, Perusing the Internet, buying products, whether those are online or in store and everyone else in our space is in service to them. Um, so while we have customers as also on, um, the demand side of the ecosystem, advertisers, agencies, the media owner side with retailers and, um, traditional publishers, um, we are all working together to service the customer and have that client centricity mindset.
So go to market is really. Focused on how do we, within the operations of our business, ensure that we are productively bringing our solutions to market in a way that is hitting the nail on the head for our customers, those demand and supply side partners, as well as for [00:05:00] their customers who are the consumers in our digital ecosystem.
Tim Finnigan: So Nola, when you talk about sort of. Yeah. Customer centricity. And when you say we and make sure like, I know that you sort of sit in between sales, marketing, and product, which a lot of go to market does, how do you get that alignment, right? Is that it’s, it’s not the easiest thing.
Nola Solomon: No, yeah, I mean, well, I think, like, everything, there is a component of process and how we actually operate following processes, following rules that we’ve set for ourselves. There is relationship building is incredibly important because, uh, no 1 group or person has all the answers knows all the answers, or can do everything in a black box silo on their own.
So it’s really collaborative. So, having that trust amongst your colleagues, um, is really important. Just as trust with your customers is really important. Um, and so we really kind of think about how we. Structure go to market to both [00:06:00] have those communication portals and processes set in place with the sales organization with the marketing organization, and then with the product organization, which may look a little different between those 3, because there are different tools that each 1 uses their different ways of communicating different information that they may each need to know.
But fundamentally, we need to make sure that we are. Very organized, very project oriented while being able to zoom in and zoom out at the same time for the health of the business overall and then communicate very transparently about everything that we’re working on and everything that’s coming so that everyone’s in the loop and everyone understands their role to play in the whole process.
Tim Finnigan: I know what a great answer. I, and it made me think of something when I first started at Verisk, I went to the sales leader and said, you’re my number one customer and they loved it. I think sales, sales likes thinking that they’re number one in all points of view. So, um, so Nor, uh, Nola, we met at, um, Verisk marketing solutions.
We had a customer [00:07:00] insights conference and you spoke beautifully on a panel sort of out, um, You know, audiences and you are, you are on the panel with, you know, people from the trade desk and, and NBC or Paramount, but you talked specifically about consumer behavior and how it’s evolving and. How they interact with media and I think we, I, you know, I, I could have told you that, but you had some really good, you know, deep dive, like what that means with how consumers are changing and how we have to meet them at different spots.
Can you just sort of go over what you, you spoke about at Viya?
Nola Solomon: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, you know, consumer behavior is an always evolving, uh, trend. Um, and that can be really nuanced and micro. It can also be macro trends that are generational. Um, so a lot of what we’ve been keeping an eye on, of course, in our space is how our consumers, particularly in the commerce, um, [00:08:00] ecosystem.
Coming back post coven and, um, and just in the general kind of latest 2023 view of them versus how they were in 2022. and so we’ve seen some really interesting, um, data points that I’m happy to share. 1 of which is that physical stores are making a comeback. Obviously, digital really boomed in the last few years, and, um, there was a lot of questions around stores, but we are really seeing those coming back.
So there is a blurring of the intersection between online and offline that’s requiring retailers and brands to step on the gas towards having a fully integrated omni channel commerce future and for marketers to really prioritize developing more holistic marketing strategies that are going to.
Provide those consumers with a more cohesive shopping experience, whether they’re in store or whether they’re online. So, what we’ve seen is the evolution of the role of the brick and mortar, um, in the recent years. Really actually still remaining the primary [00:09:00] point of purchase for consumers right now. It accounts for approximately 70 percent of total retail sales, which is pretty incredible.
So the consumer journey isn’t just taking place online or just in the store. It’s really about. Connecting the dots between those 2 environments for any individual consumer, but also for marketers and retailers are really looking to reach them and making sure you have solutions in place to address them, whether they’re browsing in store online.
And then, when they’re ready to actually make that purchase again in store online or online, and then pick up in store, there’s lot of different trends that we’ve seen. And then the other thing that I think might be interesting to talk through here is. We’re seeing that the winning of the loyalty and capturing that share of wallet for retailers and advertisers is really tougher than it’s ever been before.
Um, so brands and retailers really need to make sure that they have a consistent consumer touch point and that they’re utilizing data driven strategies. To create timely and tailored advertisements that are going to increase [00:10:00] their conversion rates. Um, and this is all about building trust, uh, with your consumer.
Um, by being client centric in your approach, because you understand how they are engaging with your brand.
Tim Finnigan: So Nola, when you talk about loyalty and, and making sure you’re there and you’ve got an answer, is that sort of maybe when, when you think of first party data and how it’s so important and the future of it, could you just sort of touch base on maybe how, what Criteo sees first party data? Are you personally and the importance of
Nola Solomon: Yeah, absolutely. First party data is very important. Uh, I was trying to find a better word than very, but it didn’t come to me fast enough. Um, it’s, uh, I like to be a little more prosaic. Um, but, uh, in any case, um, it’s really about driving consumer experience, right? So 1st party data allows you to better understand you the brand, right?
Whether you are a publisher, whether you’re a retailer, whether you’re an advertiser. To understand who your consumers are and what they’re about, um, what they like to do, what they like to shop for, what they’re doing across the Internet, what they’re [00:11:00] doing in store and physical environments. As much as you know, that data is available.
It’s really incredible to have all of those. Touch points come together to create insights that you can then use to improve that consumer experience across your sites or your stores or your other channels for much more powerful advertising marketing purposes that also drive better value for those consumers themselves. That’s like, fundamentally, I think a really critical component of why 1st party data is so just generically important for our industry, but I would say it’s become even more. So, because of changes in the industry, when it comes to address ability, and our ability to actually do 1 to 1 advertising, which impacts.
It impacts user experience. It impacts measurement and our ability to attribute the value of that. Those advertising dollars. It impacts personalization and dynamic creative optimization targeting the ability to dynamically optimize as things are performing [00:12:00] or not throughout the chain of running a campaign or monetizing an inventory or data set.
And fundamentally. With, um, cookies going away on Safari and Firefox and edge with the beginning of the deprecation on 1 percent of cookies on Chrome. That’s starting in January on the browser based environments. It becomes extremely critical for all of these brands that have direct touch points with consumers to really lean into that 1st, party data collection to keep that ability to understand their consumer in a more.
Um, fleshed out way and their ability to then find and reach them in the appropriate ways with the appropriate messages. Um, that is under threat right now in the industry. So 1st, party data is, um, a huge, huge part of that solve.
Tim Finnigan: And Nola, do you have a opinion, uh, when you talk about one to one, uh, marketing and personalization, sort of how. Your, you look at, or Criteo looks at privacy and maybe your experience, like, cause there’s, you know, there’s definitely, you, you were [00:13:00] talking about the key market drivers of loyalty, knowing your customer, having first party data, interacting with them, knowing the consumer, but then you throw in that privacy thing.
Like, how is, how, how do you see that going?
Nola Solomon: Yeah, well, I mean, I think that every time you talk about 1st party data, it’s an extricably linked with privacy to a certain extent. Um, privacy is really about ensuring that the consumers have protections around their personal identifiable information. And this is a foundational component. Um, that is required throughout all of digital advertising.
I mean, it’s required in other industries as well. Um, you know, obviously, in health care, it’s hugely important too. So it’s really about leaning into solutions that are privacy safe. So, when you talk about 1st, party data, um, oftentimes we think about hashed emails, hashing with, um, shot 2, 5, 6, or 5 ways that can’t be.
Reverse engineered back to finding something more [00:14:00] personally identifiable about a specific consumer. That’s really important. And every player in the ecosystem really needs to ensure that they have those right measures in place as does, you know, fundamentally everything we think about when we. Um, evolve addressability strategies for the space, um, in a way that allows us to continue to delight customers in the way that they want to discover, uh, or engage, but in a way that is, um, uh, privacy safe and not taking advantage of information that should be theirs and theirs alone.
Yeah, well, I mean,
Tim Finnigan: So, Nola, you talked about, um, sort of things that are coming or things that are, we need to be concerned about privacy. You mentioned, um, you know, cookies, all those things that we need to be thinking about, but what do you think besides that, that industry leaders should be paying attention to? Um, And I think I’m going to tee it up like AI, there should be definitely be paying attention to, but maybe go a little deeper on [00:15:00] maybe what they’re paying attention to and what they should be paying attention to.
Nola Solomon: AI, obviously, I think you can’t. Get away with working anywhere in the digital universe and not be paying attention to AI and how it impacts your industry. Um, I think really this, this, this coming year 2024, it’s really all about addressability. Um, that’s the number 1 topic that is impacting almost every area of our advertising ecosystem.
And every organization, no matter what side of the ecosystem you’re on needs to be developing addressability strategies amidst the loss of 3rd party signals and anything else that may come in the future. So, is continuing to dig really deep in our multi prong strategy. So we’re really focusing on different approaches that are going to cover.
Um, the full swath of addressability, no matter what the channel, but really leaning in on first party data, as mentioned, um, collaborative testing with privacy sandbox and [00:16:00] partnering with closed environments, like the retail media networks and the social channels that have a ton of authenticated data, um, and a lot of users that are engaging.
in commerce directly there, um, so there’s no silver bullet, um, and it’s really kind of misguided to think that there will be 1, but I think most people are disabused of that notion at this point. Um, so it’s really about having an aggregation of strategies. They’re going to prove incremental coverage or value for the whole and working collaboratively together in, in our ecosystem.
Tim Finnigan: So you mentioned a little before, but I really want to get you to tell, talk a little more about the interesting developments and trends. Um. That you’re seeing and, and we, you had, we had talked previously about trying to reach consumers earlier in the customer life cycle. Um, can you just touch on touch on what you guys are doing to, um.
Sort of help with the, the customer journey.
Nola Solomon: yeah, of course, so, um, a number of things, right? Our tools obviously are set up to be able [00:17:00] to allow marketers and retailers to. Engage with those consumers across the different touch points all the way from discovery and consideration through to path to purchase and point of sale. Um, and that’s done through a myriad of different tactics, depending on what they’re looking for and what their KPIs are just by using our technology.
But the other really big part of what we do with our customers is we, we share a lot of insights. We work with them to help guide them in deciding how they’re going to use our technology to do what I just mentioned. So. For instance, what we’ve been seeing this year is that consumers have been beginning their holiday spending much earlier than usual.
So we saw this with back to school. We’re continuing to see that trend with the holidays now. Um, so a higher percentage of shoppers are already planning their holiday gifts. I think about 40 percent of consumers already made purchases. Um, they’re also intending to spend more both in store and online, as I mentioned before, which is why that synergy between the Omni channel offline and online becomes [00:18:00] so critical now.
Um, and 1 5th of them are planning to spend a significant amount more than they were last year. So even just these data points are really important for retailers and brands to be considering when they’re preparing their marketing tactics or the. Upcoming holiday period, and Q4 is obviously a big 1 there.
Um, there’s a lot of consumer demand. There’s a lot of enthusiasm, some improved economic conditions that are helping drive all of this and then the convenience of online shopping, the convenience of location and being able to discover with physical touch. So there’s a real opportunity there for retailers to get engaged as well.
With those consumers when they have those brick and mortars, um, we’re also seeing a lot more competition. Um, so Amazon is facing a lot more competition from other retailers. Um, so 1 in 5 shoppers this year have said that they’re now buying products from other retailers and brands that they used to buy from Amazon.
Um, so major sales events, like Amazon prime day and black Friday are creating [00:19:00] a halo effect for other retailers who are running competing sales. And that’s just contributing to a healthier ecosystem and share a voice opportunity for those other retailers. And part of that is because consumers are making their product discovery kind of process move away from search and search has been such a big part of it.
But 4 and 10 shoppers are starting to look, um, for things in physical stores, just to do discovery and we think that 35 percent of them. From what we’re seeing are going to begin that journey on a specific retailers website or app. Um, so this is really a huge opportunity for the retailers and the brands to invest in those omni channel strategies to reach those consumers, wherever they are and whenever they’re shopping, or potentially ready to start discovering for future shopping.
Tim Finnigan: it was super interesting. So Nola, when you talked about Amazon and maybe people going back or, you know, [00:20:00] wanting to go back to those brands that they had purchased before, do you. Do you think, or does any of your research show that people are going to Amazon more as research? Like, Oh, am I getting a good price?
And then they’re going back to say the brand and wanting to interact with the brand. Cause maybe it’s more authentic for them or it’s a better user experience. Are you seeing any changes like that?
Nola Solomon: Uh, well, I don’t have that particular data handy at my fingertips. I can definitely circle back and come back to you with what we see there. Um, we obviously are very limited in terms of what we can see directly happening with Amazon on Amazon outside of what consumers themselves are, um, mentioning and surveys and other kind of more publicly available data sets that we can marry with our own.
But we are definitely seeing a huge amount of increase in, um, discovery happening on our retailers that we do work with directly, um, in a way that we never have before. So, um, [00:21:00] I think signs, you know, will say qualitatively point to that. Um, but I don’t have a quantitative metric to give you there.
Tim Finnigan: Well, your quantitative is sample size one, Tim. That’s how he uses Amazon. So.
Nola Solomon: There you go.
Tim Finnigan: sure that I’m getting a good deal, but I go back to those brands. Um, and I, I, before I let you go, I have a couple of bullet points. I wanted to touch on, um, and see if you guys are seeing this as well. When you, you had talked about, uh, retail sales and it’s going up in 70%.
Um, is, is our retailers reacting? To the online sales and saying, Hey, we need to build better experiences because I’ve seen some articles and been in some stores like Lululemon or Allo. I go there with my daughters. I’m not going there by myself.
Nola Solomon: It’s okay if you it
Tim Finnigan: yeah, but seeing like it, it’s more, not, not just interactive, but the store designs are different or it’s how they’re interacting with the consumer.
Um, are you guys seeing that as well?
Nola Solomon: Yeah, I mean, I think that, uh, with our, [00:22:00] some of our technology that we bring to retailers, we’re offering them different ways to think about how they can activate. Uh, in their stores, um, so there’s all sorts of different methods to do that from actual physical. To, you know, audio to how things are laid out.
Um, and so we’re seeing a lot more creativity coming out of retailers on what they are, um, preparing to do to meet their consumers, where their consumers and how their consumers want to be met based on these insights and based on the partnership they have with us as well as, you know, with others. Um, I think the best way to get a sense of that is.
You me, we’re all consumers walk into a bunch of stores and see how has it shifted? How has it adjusted? Um, in the coming this year versus last year. Um, what’s what’s front and center on display? What are you being kind of geared to? Or what’s the last product that you’re seeing when you’re standing in line to pay?
Um, and is it something that you just easily throw in your cart? All of these are little things. They’re not, they seem little to us in the moment because we’re there and we’re not really [00:23:00] thinking about it. But these are all very specifically decided actions by the retailer, by the brands, based on data and based on what they’re seeing, um, evolving from consumer behavior.
Tim Finnigan: Well, Nola, I could talk to you forever. You have a wealth of knowledge on marketing. So thank you. So for people to get ahold of you, they can reach out to on LinkedIn, connect with you and
Nola Solomon: NOLA.
Tim Finnigan: Criteo.
Nola Solomon: Yes, Nola Solomon on LinkedIn, uh, and then, uh, anyone who wants to reach me directly via email, my Criteo email address is n. solomon at Criteo. com.
Tim Finnigan: But I’m not going to let you off that easy. This is now a, uh, as a section that I just created, it’s called three cat questions with Nola. Um, True or false. You played, uh, semi professional soccer in France.
Nola Solomon: True.
Tim Finnigan: True.
Nola Solomon: True. was very interesting and lot of fun.
Tim Finnigan: I did read, there was something on, you have this personal website and there’s this article you [00:24:00] wrote and how rough they were.
Like, during one game, like someone broke a leg or something. They had to call it at halftime. But, you’re, interesting, okay. Second question. You speak four languages.
Nola Solomon: True. Also true.
Tim Finnigan: Prove it. No, you don’t have to prove it. English, assuming is one. French, Italian, and Spanish. Correct. Uh, are you a novelist? Have you wrote, written a book?
Nola Solomon: I am a novelist. I am not a published novelist. Um, I am still on that journey. Um, but yes, I adore creative writing. I have since I was 11 years old. And I have a lot of ideas. So now I’ve been honing them into the craft of novel writing. Which is exciting.
Tim Finnigan: not. Your novel is called The Executioner and it’s about the French Revolution and it’s, I have a, I was able to get a copy of it, not the book, but the, I don’t know, is it called a manuscript? But I love it. I love it. Um, but I think you’re so right with storytelling. [00:25:00] And I tell young people all the time, like learn, still know how to write because that is such a, a needed skill going into business and marketing that you can put your thoughts down and build things and write stories and whole thing.
So I am impressed with you and your background. I, in my spare time, I fish and go on walks. You. Soccer, languages, novelist, all this, you’re great, alright.
Nola Solomon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The thing
Tim Finnigan: being two time, two time, we’re gonna do, couple months we’ll do, we’ll visit again, we’ll do, you’ll be the first three time marketing
Nola Solomon: it. Who doesn’t like a hat trick?
Tim Finnigan: We’re gonna end there, thanks Nola.
Nola Solomon: Thank you.