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MGID’s Ukraine operations continue despite the bombs

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MGID's Ukraine operations continue despite the bombs

MGIDs Ukraine operations continue despite the bombs
Svatoslav Mutsko, Account Manager (Sales), APAC & LATAM at MGID, working in a cellar near Kyiv, after a bomb attack (courtesy MGID)

“People are very dedicated to this, that’s one thing,” said Michael Korsunsky, CEO of North American operations for global native advertising platform MGID. “The second is the sense of normalcy. It’s a distraction from the nightmare that’s happening. It also helps psychologically to maintain something that hasn’t been broken.’

We had been reviewing photographs of MGID staff members driven to cellars with their laptops by the sound of air alarms.

Korsunsky himself is based in Santa Monica. MGID’s global CEO, Sergei Denisenko is Ukraine-based, as is a large MGID team mainly devoted to R&D, engineering and tech support. How many? “It’s hard to say,” said Korsunsky. “We originally had about 600 people in that office, but because of COVID the office was a come-as-you-wish basis for the last couple of years. Some people went to Western Ukraine, some people went to Poland, some people went to Germany and a lot are still in Ukraine. Until we can make sense logistically of what’s happening, it’s difficult to see how many people are physically in Ukraine and how many are in different areas.”

Right now, men aged 18 to 60 cannot leave the country, although Korsunsky said there were plausible candidates — perhaps Slovakia or Estonia — if the decision was taken to relocate the Kyiv operation.

A decentralized model

Founded in 2007, MGID is one of the oldest platforms of its kind. “Today we operate in 276 countries and have physical offices in 11 countries with close to 1,000 employees,” said Korsunsky. “Different geographies and regions require different approaches to the market and we go into each market with the intention of connecting local demand to local supply — so we open physical offices, we hire local people, we work with local agencies; what that of course does is force a distributed model for the company in terms of resources.”

The decentralized nature of MGID’s operations was only underlined by COVID, with many staff choosing to work remotely. It ultimately turned out to be a good thing that resources were not concentrated in one location, and decentralization has meant that the war has had no impact on MGID’s operational capacity. “We kind of saw this coming,” Korsunsky mused. “Nobody believed it would happen, but the signs were there, right?”

Korsunsky himself was born in Ukraine. “I left during the Soviet Union, so the country did not independently exist. To me this is completely insane, like science fiction of a very poor caliber. It’s like California fighting with Kansas, for example. It makes no sense.”

An open letter to the adtech industry

Shortly after the opening of hostilities, MGID released an open letter to the adtech industry, calling for “access to reliable and truthful information about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine” and including a link to make donations to the National Bank of Ukraine’s special account for Ukraine’s armed forces.

“All of us in the industry understand that content integrity, especially during these times, is crucial,” said Korsunsky. “What we’re asking for is a sense of responsibility when distributing content. In addition to that, we need to offset the disinformation impact by sharing more approved and legitimate news. Obviously Russia is very good at disinforming and spinning things. We ask for support for truth, and if there is an ability to provide humanitarian help, to try to organize that.”

Korsunsky thanked publisher partners that have allowed MGID to insert an in-content impact widget in articles at no cost: “It’s just a link to official humanitarian groups that can collect funds and distribute them properly. The more people see it, the better the impact will be.”


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The bombs need to stop

We asked Korsunsky what hopes he had for the immediate future. “I don’t believe any argument can be heard until the bombs stop. It doesn’t matter if there is any perceived legitimacy from the Russian perspective on why this happened. Until the terror stops, no one’s going to listen. My hope is for no loss of life; everything else can be restored but life cannot. There are no winners in this situation.”

Despite damaged infrastructure and economy and loss of life, Korsunsky believes Ukraine can nevertheless be restored. “We also have millions of Russian people who didn’t want this war, and they’re severely impacted. So there’s no win-win, it’s more of a lose-lose. I think everybody’s main hope is for a quick resolution of the military conflict. Then everything else can be dealt with.”


About The Author

Are you using no code tools
Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.


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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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