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Meet Emilia Kirk – The resurgence of contextual advertising

Today we have selected Emilia Kirk to take her interviewShe is the Global Head of Growth at Seedtag.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Thank you for asking – I am doing great and so are the Seedtag team. I joined the business in November of last year and one of my first questions was to ask how we had weathered the storm of COVID-19 – and I’m pleased to say that the company not only hit its annual targets but exceeded them. During a troublesome year for most, this shows great resilience, strong teamwork, and the ability to deliver creative and innovative solutions to our clients.

We are currently undergoing exciting change at Seedtag, building on the wealth of experience that we have within the contextual space. Contextual advertising is undergoing a resurgence in digital media, so I feel that the future shows promise and we are on a strong trajectory.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined this company?

I started working in the digital advertising world almost 15 years ago. I joined a company called Vibrant Media which specialized in contextual advertising solutions, working initially in the supply side within the UK market, and then supply and demand the International team. Exposure to multi-market planning and buying sparked my interest in understanding how different markets operated. I think it also planted the seed of wanting to live and work abroad and own a global role. Following Vibrant, I set up Avid Media with my previous manager, which was the first native DSP in the UK. We were ahead of the curve for native advertising, which allowed us to be successful. It was really within my time at Avid that my skills grew: we had to sell, manage publisher relationships, strategize, develop products, grow sales teams, manage campaigns and invoices – all at the same time!

It was during this time that we developed innovative contextual technology that led us to be acquired by Dentsu Aegis and so I moved into a hybrid role of vendor and agency, which led to greater client exposure and understanding of agency and client relationships.

Once the Dentsu acquisition came to an end, I met with Albert Nieto and Jorge Poyatos, Seedtag’s CEOs, and the rest is history.

How does your company innovate?

I’m lucky in that I’ve joined a company that thrives on innovation. Seedtag was created by two ambitious, forward-thinking leaders who encourage ideas, the continual improvement of work, and the delivery of solutions – all at a fast pace. But we also command an open culture and there are no rigid lines in the hierarchy, meaning that leaders are accessible and can answer and assist on any question or request. There’s a strong culture of teamwork and we are continually sourcing feedback from our clients and aiming to answer needs, which is easily fed back to product and marketing, ensuring that we are flexible and nimble in our delivery of solutions to brands.

Have you had to make difficult choices? What are the lessons learned?

We are continually facing difficult choices in life. But it’s how you learn from difficult choices and situations and the application of these to future decisions and plans that are key. It’s important that you are comfortable with your principles and values and accept who you are as a person. Always trust your gut instinct as the only person who can truly know whether the right decision has been made is you. I always say that “we are the choices we make”.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Seedtag was created by two ex-Googlers, therefore we are Google obsessed! But we also use Slack, Zoom, and Teams to communicate with each other and with our clients. Whilst these tools are never the same as a face-to-face meeting, and relationships with clients and each other are now different, remote working has led to individuals being more open, kinder, and more resilient. Despite remote working, we are all pushing towards the same goal of producing brilliant work, and the determination to achieve that still remains the same.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

As contextual advertising is now having a renaissance; there are a number of advertising vendors who have pivoted into this space. We don’t see this as a threat, but rather, it reinforces what we’ve been doing at Seedtag for the last 7 years. We have brilliant proprietary tech and unique products that are currently not mirrored in the marketplace, but I prefer to not think too much about competition, instead we focus on our goals and ambitions and listen to the needs of our clients.

Your Final Thoughts

You need to have clarity of your own vision and be clear in knowing what you stand for – and this needs to feed down into your team. When building businesses and teams, the product doesn’t matter unless you have a collective purpose. It’s important to understand this and also support others in discovering who they are and their purpose in order to guide. By showing empathy, listening, and demonstrating that whatever is important to a member of your team is also important to you, you will receive the best in turn.

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