Tencil Talks: Elliot MacNay

Elliot Macnay is the UK Sales Director at Zeotap and leads the demand sales side of the business for brands and agencies. 

Zeotap is a customer intelligence platform that helps brands understand more about their existing customers to deliver more personalised marketing. 

Elliot has ten years Sales experience in digital marketing and has worked at the likes of TimeOut, Outbrain and Engine. 

Today, we caught up with him: 

Q. Talk us through your professional career to date? 

EM. My career started in Leeds where I worked in telesales selling adverts in the Thomson Local directories to small and medium businesses when I was 17 years old. 

After a couple of years, I had an opportunity to move from my home city to Dubai, where I would sell digital display advertising for the most renowned classified website in the Middle East, Dubizzle. The experience in Dubai taught me the very basics of digital marketing, and I’m thankful for the opportunities I had there. It was 2012 when I started working in the Middle East, which is a less developed market in comparison to the UK. When we sold a campaign, we usually took the IO to their offices in-person to get pen to paper, and the only metrics we would optimise towards was click-through rate, or the delivery of impressions agreed in a particular contextual environment.

dubizzle advertising - Posts | Facebook

After Dubizzle, I worked at the biggest publishing house in the market, ITP, representing TimeOut Digital. After TimeOut, the opportunity to work at a brand new start-up was on the table, which was a risk, but it was always something I wanted to experience, so I did. 

All in all, my experience in Dubai gave me a wide range of different types of business, solutions, ways of working, highs and bad lows. I wouldn’t change anything. I think it’s important to touch on the lows. I experienced two big ones with my mental health during my time in Dubai, and this was because I put too much expectation and pressure on myself without having any real direction or purpose. The way that I was able to get back on track was to learn how to set myself clear goals. This practice helped me to understand why I do what I do and to keep on learning and developing. 

The Open Web's Discovery & Native Advertising Feed | Outbrain.com

In 2015, I joined Outbrain after returning from Dubai. I’ll always love Outbrain as a business. It was filled (and still is) with amazing people. During my time there, I worked on the GroupM accounts, and I enjoyed learning about the native side of digital marketing. The native space resonates nicely with me. I’m a big believer in a none disruptive way of communicating with people when it comes to digital. Companies such as Outbrain and Ad You Like are businesses that can hold their heads high in terms of what they have done for our industry. 

In 2017, I moved to Engine Group, where I was the 2nd hire in the EU for a video demand platform they acquired. Working for Engine was a great deal of fun. We opened up the UK market for the business by working with all of the significant network agencies and independents. The role gave me exposure to a wide range of contacts vs my time at Outbrain. It was also awesome to add video advertising to my arsenal during my time at Engine. One thing I’ve always done when making a move is to try and dive into something completely different. It’s better to know a little about a lot, rather than a lot about little, in my opinion. 

Today I’m at zeotap. We are a customer intelligence and data platform for brands and agencies. We help brands understand more about their customers by adding valuable data attributes; we then empower them to action that first-party data through the platforms they use for programmatic and social. We also work with agencies to help them target more accurate audiences with our third-party data. 

I was the first fulltime hire in the UK market for the business, and it has been a priceless experience to see us move from coffee shops to our lovely 12-person office at WeWork in Paddington. 

Q. Who is your biggest role model and why? 

EM. I’m fortunate to have had fantastic role models at every single business that I’ve worked at during my time. I try and take little bits from each one that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.

On the flip side, it’s always useful to recognise and learn from the anti role models. During your career, you’re going to work with people you learn from negatively, identifying the bad parts is just as important as recognising the good in shaping your style. 

Outside of the industry, my role models are The Rock, Joe Rogan, Chris Voss, Oprah, and many more. 

Q. Do you think we are doing enough to educate young adults about digital marketing? 

EM. I left school when I was sixteen and went straight into work after GCSEs. I was always interested in advertising and marketing but knew jack-all about it. I was very fortunate to have fallen into Thomson Local to then go on to Dubai and learn through work. 

I think that it’s vital for our industry to be as present as possible as early as possible in the education sector. We need to have consistent coverage throughout the country at school career days. We need to spend time educating kids with updated content every single year to make sure that they’re aware that our industry is an option. As a result, these actions should encourage better diversity with a range of different personalities, perspectives, experiences and ethnicities. 

I hope that initiatives like Tencil can help improve how our industry involves itself in schools. The success could be dependent on the support from leading businesses in our space. I hope that companies get on board at an early stage to help shape and accelerate the movement. 

Q. What advice would you give to a young adult learning about digital marketing for the first time? 

EM. Take your time. There’s a lot to learn, and you’ve never done learning because technologies, strategies and regulations change so quickly and frequently. 

Don’t be afraid to be bold by building meaningful relationships and connections early on across a range of different businesses, like agencies, technology vendors, brands, publishers. An effective way of doing this is by asking for help and perspectives from people you might not necessarily know, the right people will extend a helping hand to a young person who has the hunger to learn. 

Q. If you could change one thing about digital marketing, what would it be and why? 

EM. I think we touched on it earlier. Education is needed for the broader public so that they can fully understand digital marketing. I don’t think you’d need to go into the technical specs, but having more of a presence throughout the UK in schools up and down the country will help our industry grow for the better. I think we will gain the needed diversity that everyone talks about by taking the time to educate communities from all walks of life and locations consistently. What makes marketing work best is having a range of different perspectives. 

Q. Much talk about the death of the cookie at the moment, are we prepared as an industry? 

EM. The industry will adapt and carry on. I think we will see consolidation on the sell-side, especially ad-tech outfits who are overly reliant on the 3rd-party cookie as an identifier. 

From a customer identity perspective, brands need to get their ducks in a row to ensure they have a handle on activating their first-party data through the technologies/platforms that they have access to for programmatic, data management and social.

The short answer to your question, how can anyone be fully prepared? There is a lot that we don’t know and a grey area. However, I believe that the players who are here to stay will be ready as soon as they can be. 

Q. Someone told me that your favourite restaurant is Lobos (Meat & Tapas) in Soho – Are they right? 

Sushi Atelier

EM. That’s incorrect. My favourite restaurant in London is Atelier Sushi on Great Portland Street. 

Finally, we would like to thank Elliot for taking time out of his busy schedule to discuss all things digital marketing earlier today.

If you would like to hear more about opportunities within digital marketing, feel free to reach out to Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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