S1E30 – Interview with Lindsey Bnadad, Senior Marketing Strategist at iHeartMedia
Lindsey Bnadad builds marketing partnerships on behalf of iHeartMedia. She works with partners at the local, regional and national levels to put their brands in front of people and to help them grow their businesses.
How and when did you get into digital marketing?
I started learning about digital marketing here and there during my first media job, and I even got digital marketing certified by the Radio Advertising Bureau. But it wasn’t until I started my first stint with iHeartMedia, back in the days when it was Clear Channel, that I really started using digital marketing in any real way because they were starting to offer tools for digital marketing that made sense for my clients.
What was your path to iHeartMedia?
It’s funny, I’ve actually come full-circle. As I mentioned, I worked for iHeart back when the company was really just starting to get its legs under it digitally.
The iHeartRadio app had launched and the company was in full re-branding mode when I was recruited away for a marketing role by a vacation company. While I was there I learned a whole lot about digital knowledge management, online reputation management, and how to build a social media strategy.
Then I left there for a better opportunity at an online publisher in the healthcare vertical, where I learned about programmatic display, email, and digital campaign strategy.
So when iHeartMedia came calling to recruit me back, the cutting-edge digital platform they had built since I’d been gone was a huge factor in my return. And I’ve been back for about 2.5 years now.
It’s exciting to work for a company that’s always looking to set benchmarks for the digital marketing space.
How has digital marketing changed over the years?
My perspective is probably a bit skewed coming from the mass broadcast industry. We’ve always been headed down this path that’s sort of the rise of technology, and for a while it started off that digital advertising was about supporting traditional media tactics… which is great because they can be an excellent foil for each other: one being better at building awareness and consideration and the other being better at driving engagement and activation.
Then I think we got to a tipping point where companies were spending the majority of their budgets on digital—because it’s so measurable and because attribution is so easy with it. They were expecting it to be that silver bullet that would give an immediate return on their marketing investments but they started to realize they weren’t getting the ROI out of it they had hoped for.
That’s when we started to see, fairly recently, larger companies returning some of their budgets back to more traditional intrusive media. (Proctor & Gamble is a great example)!
And I think digital capabilities in marketing have followed along this trend. We started off with tactical tools like display ads that you could buy on websites (whether it was Facebook, The Wall Street Journal.com, or your local news media outlet’s website. Then we built into programmatic display ads and email marketing platforms that drive click engagement. And the problem is that people rarely click on ads for brands they don’t know and trust. So now we still use these digital tactics, but we’re back to finding ways to gain that trust from our audiences. So digital tactics have, in a lot of ways, taken on the form of next generation traditional media… things like targeted audio and video where ads can be delivered on an impression basis, but still be focused on building brand recognition and consideration.
I also think, from a marketing perspective, the importance of a company website is changing in a lot of ways. It used to be that your website was your online identity as a corporation. Now, that’s only part of the story. Now, you have to consider how you show up in the SERPs and what people are saying about you online… how easy you are to reach via online information about your business… and more and more frequently, with the addition of voice search to the mix, what do you have to do to show up first in search?
How do I go about formulating a digital marketing strategy?
Well you can’t formulate a good strategy without understanding where you are and where you’re trying to go. So when I’m dealing with a new client I like to start with a conversation about what’s happening with the business now, what the business is looking to accomplish, and with whom. Once I know what the company already has in place, where the company wants to grow, who are its core and growth audiences, and what success looks like, I can start to identify what tools make the most sense for helping the business achieve its goals. Because every tactic has its strengths but there isn’t one solution that can solve every problem for everyone. So it’s kind of like putting together a puzzle. And I think that having a reliable and transparent reporting mechanism is important, to ensure that you’re able to test, tweak, and optimize your marketing efforts (and sometimes change them all together), as needed.
People say podcasting is the next big thing. What’s your take?
Yes, podcasting is a big deal. It’s like the more evolved cousin of traditional media. Podcasting takes the best parts of what makes traditional audio so powerful (its intrusiveness and our ability to actively consume it while still engaging in other activities), combines it with the power of storytelling, sometimes even with the power of the storyteller being influencer, and delivers in a way that leverages digital measurability.
Also, podcasters, by and large, seem to have figured out where the thresholds are for ad delivery, in terms of volume, content, and tone. The result is content that is much more appealing to the listener with curated ad messaging that is much more digestible and impactful. So all around I think podcasting is a hugely powerful medium both from the consumer standpoint and the marketer’s standpoint.
What profession would I have chosen if not in my current role?
Oh, gosh! I’m a huge travel fanatic… I’d have loved to be a travel guide!
Favorite authors or books
you know, my local Chamber of Commerce had a really impressive keynote speaker at their annual meeting last week. His name is Garry Ridge. He’s an Australian gentleman who is the President and CEO of the company WD-40. And during his speech last week he talked about exceptional leadership with a philosophy he called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A”. So I’m reading a book he co-authored with Ken Blanchard, called Helping People Win at Work. I definitely recommend it!
When I’m not working
I volunteer quite a lot with my local Chamber of Commerce. I also enjoy getting outside and running/playing with our dogs… exploring around and finding great photo opportunities with my husband.
Advice for people who want to start in Digital Marketing
If you want to make a career in digital marketing, I recommend preparing for a lifetime of continuous learning… the digital world is always evolving and what was the most up-to-date knowledge three months ago may be obsolete in another 3 months. I also say don’t only focus on digital marketing. This is only a small piece of the whole marketing pie. It’s important to understand where digital fits into the mix and how it’s affected by all the other parts. And when I say other parts, I don’t just mean other ways to advertise or promote—even this only gets you so far if your product or service isn’t good. You don’t have to be an expert in everything marketing. But you do have to know where you fit in the puzzle.