Ad Ops All Stars: Mahendran Singh, MediaMint

by Kathleen Booth, on Dec 8, 2021 9:00:00 AM

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It's not unusual for publishers and agencies to use offshore resources for their ad ops teams, and we've covered how to manage those relationships several times on this podcast, always from the perspective of the "onshore" ad ops leader managing that offshore team.

But what we haven't covered is what it's like to lead an offshore ad ops team, from the perspective of the person in that offshore management role.

MediaMint Associate Director Mahendran Singh leads a 250 person ad ops team for MediaMint, a 1,500 person agency with offices around the globe and serving some of the world's leading brands. On this week's Ad Ops All Stars podcast, he pulls back the curtain on how the offshore half of the relationship is managed, and what onshore leaders should know about building a productive relationship with offshore teams.

Listen to or watch the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear Mahendran's story.

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Transcript:

Kathleen: Welcome back to the Ad Ops All Stars podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And today my guest is Mahendran Singh, who is the Associate Director of MediaMint. Welcome to the podcast Mahendran, it's great meeting you.

Mahendran: Hi Kathleen. Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure being here.

Kathleen: Yeah. I'm excited to chat with you. This has been a long time in coming. I know you and I have been going back and forth to find a time. And one of the reasons I was really looking forward to speaking with you is that I've had a number of people on the show who are based in the US lead ad ops teams and have offshore resources that they work with. And they've talked about what it's like to manage an offshore team, but I haven't had anyone actually who comes from an offshore team talk about what makes for a great relationship from that end. And so we're going to get into that, but before we do, I'd love it if you could just talk a little bit about your background, because I did LinkedIn stalk you a little bit, and I saw that you have a pretty impressive resume. You've worked in Google, in InMobi, obviously you're at MediaMint now, but maybe you could just tell us about that career evolution and how you wound up getting into ad ops.

Mahendran: For sure. It was a very different start to where I am today, to my career. Started as a technical writer for a company that provides ethical hacking related certifications. And that's when I got to know about the digital marketing side of things. 2000, this was back in 2004 when digital marketing was still new, Google ads were still new. Kind of very fascinated me, was blessed too to work with Google and learn the basics there in terms of online and marketing, search marketing and all those kind of things. I was blessed with that. InMobi was a great different perspective. A, because wanted to work with a company that headquartered in India, an Indian company. I really wanted that exposure and InMobi gave me that. I was able to set up their customer acquisitions framework, specifically for online. And that helped me, kind of understand not just the Indian market, but how an Indian company is trying to grow across the globe.

Mahendran: So that was a great exposure for me. Post that, I wanted to get into some kind of e-commerce because at that point e-commerce was a huge factor in online marketing. Most companies wanted to shift their offline budgets to online. I had the opportunity to work with one of the biggest e-commerce giants, just Tesco in UK. So I was able to work with them. I was working out of their offshore office in Bengaluru. So it's been a long career, but I would say it's been a very blessed from a point of view in terms of learnings, because every company that I've gone into I've dealt with something new and all these learnings are coming together in the company that I'm working with, MediaMint. So I'm trying, I'm able to put that knowledge, I'm able to put that expertise together to not just help my clients, but also grow my team, from a knowledge perspective, from their career perspective as well. So yeah, so that's in a nutshell, I would say in terms of how my career progressed.

Kathleen: And maybe you could talk a little bit about what MediaMint does.

Mahendran: Yeah. So we provide, we are offshore partners. We provide services across the spectrum, the digital marketing spectrums. We consider ourselves a digital marketing agency. We provide all the way from services around search and search marketing, social marketing. We have display, programmatic, we also provide all these ancillary services if I may I call it, like creative services, data analytics, things that any company trying to pursue decisions on digital things, we are the people looking to support them.

Mahendran: So yeah, it's been a great journey with MediaMint. I'm going to complete about five years in March. Been a great journey, seeing different brands, different, other agencies in terms of how they're working and different perspectives all as well. That's what I'm really hoping to share with you in this session. But yeah, in a nutshell, we are an ad operations and digital marketing agency. And if we cannot support you on something, we will try our best to figure out how we can support you. So that's kind of mentality we have, that's the kind of attitude we have here. So sure, we have a comfort zone in terms of these other areas that we support you on, but we have ventured out of that comfort zone to support other areas with most of our clients as well.

Kathleen: That's great. And I know from talking to different folks at MediaMint that you all actually serve some really big and well known brands. Are you able to share examples of the types of companies that you all work with?

Mahendran: Yeah, so we manage all the way from large agencies to one of the largest in our display network, I would say. In the market right now, we also manage one of the largest video platforms as well from their operational perspective. Again, like I mentioned, it does not matter the size of the company that we support. It's the kind of value that we want to add is our primary approach I would say. Are we adding higher value in the chain or are we just being a support partner? Because we just don't want to be a support partner. We want to become their actual partner to drive their business forward. And that's what we promised them in, when we sign up a client. So, whether it's a large agency or a large ad network, or even a small client doesn't matter, but it's a value that we add is what our focus is.

Kathleen: Yeah. And how large is MediaMint now? How many employees?

Mahendran: Yeah, we have grown pretty fast. I would say we actually did admission 500 two years ago, and we are already 1,000 plus. We are almost closing around 1,200 people.

Kathleen: Wow.

Mahendran: We're headquartered out of India in Hyderabad. But we also have offices in Poland and in the US. There are a few teams that are supporting our primary sales offices in the US. Most of our clients are in the US, it makes sense that our sales folks are located out of US, but majority of the operations happens out of the Poland office and in the India headquarters.

Kathleen: Okay. And you, your title as Associate Director, what does that really mean on the day to day basis? What are you overseeing and in charge of?

Mahendran: Yeah, so I, in fact, spearhead the social and search marketing teams. It's a team of more than about 200 to 250 people right now. I mean really happy to see, not just in terms of number, but in terms of talent that we have acquired as well. People coming in with a lot of hands on expertise, internal managing search campaigns, across networks, social campaigns across multiple platforms that we have on social. So yeah, it's about 200 to 250 people right now within my org. And like I mentioned, spearheading is not just helping my clients do well, but also making sure that their career is progressing in the right direction and also their career progression also going to impact directly on the clients, because we know that our clients are business experts.

Mahendran: They sign up with us to get that search expertise or social expertise. And when we assign a resource or a person to the client, they become like an extension of their team. It's not just an offshore partner sitting out of India, but we literally become the extension of the client's team. And we start speaking the same language like they speak, sometimes we start behaving like them as well, which is great because that's what clients appreciate about us. At least with the stories that I've seen so far in my almost five years now, the clients really appreciate when we actually become the extension of the team and not just follow the directions or follow their instructions. We do follow the directions or instructions initially to gain their confidence and trust. But over a period of time, I actually become those effective partners and help them, either putting them in the right direction or even pivoting their direction if it's needed. We want to be that solutions partner and that's what we call ourselves.

Kathleen: 250 people on your team, that's a lot. So I'm curious how your team is structured. How many direct reports do you have?

Mahendran: Yeah, we are very conscious about in terms of direct reportees. I have about seven to eight managers who have team leaders under them, and the team is split into a way where there is at least a ratio of 10 to 15 people per team lead. And we want to be conscious about this because it gives a good, finite set of people for the team leader to work towards their career progress and have a more close one on one touch with them. And that's really important, I think, especially in the remote working scenario that we've gone through in the last couple of years, that one on one touchpoints are really important. So we very consciously keep that balance in mind that it's definitely not more than 15% per team. And thankfully, I'm also in the same ship where though I have a 215 member org, my direct report is about seven or eight. So I'm really happy about it.

Kathleen: It's manageable, yeah. Now, how is that organization structured? Is it broken down along functional lines or are they kind of all equivalent squads working with different clients?

Mahendran: Yeah. So just to explain from a really high level, we split our entire org into three pillars. We call it our three org level pillars. One pillar always existed which is delivery operations. Operations team always existed, which is why MediaMint existed so far. And then we created these two other pillars that's going to support this operational pillar to excel towards whatever they're doing. One of them was, we created a pillar called client engagement, completely focused on how we can engage with the client better and understand what their needs are, making sure we are expediting their needs, those kind of things. We wanted that to be a separate team that looks into that. And we also created this third group called practice. And that is what our primary breakdown of our entire org is, because we break down our org by the digital marketing channels, I would say. The digital marketing channels is the practice for us, right?

Mahendran: So while I head search and social, there's a leader like me who heads programmatic and display. There's a leader like me, who heads the entire e-commerce division, all engaging work, all retailers and e-commerce clients. We also have a head for our data analytics division, our creative services division, where while we are broken down by this digital marketing channel, expert need to be there leading that entire org. But at the high level, we look at us as a delivery, client engagement, and a practice team. Right now, I play a kind of a dual role playing both a delivery manager and also practice leader because I primarily joined as a practice leader because I feel I've managed these campaigns, not just I managed teams and people, I've worked on campaigns for Tesco, worked on campaigns for InMobi.

Mahendran: And I kind of know and understand what are the needs for a person like me who's coming up in their career now. And it's easier for me to either evolve the training programs or their knowledge programs. Those kind of things is easier for me to involve. So practice focuses on that, the learning and development of our entire org. And that's something that we started about in fact, two, three years ago, because that org always existed, but did not have a separate existence, I would say, but we consciously created that separate existence to make sure that knowledge and development is given a lot of focus on an ongoing basis.

Kathleen: I love that. And I think that's something that's so easy for organizations to put off as a nice to have, but it definitely, especially in a field that's changing as rapidly as this one is, I think it's really important. How many of the people in that 250 person organization physically come into or are located in, I don't know if you guys are back to work now with COVID, but how many are local in the area you're in or has it been a virtual or a hybrid team?

Mahendran: Yeah, so we are majority still virtual because we still want to everyone to get vaccinated, both the times. We want them to be fully vaccinated before they come back to office. In fact, I am in office today, it's an optional office.

Kathleen: I was going to say, it looks like an office. Yeah.

Mahendran: So yeah, I mean I felt like today's a good day. I mean, few days in the week is good days to be in office. Especially if you have back to back calls, it feels like you're working because when you're sitting at home, you're like, "Okay, I've seen this for one and a half years now, sitting in the same room, being in the lockdown." But it's good to come out of office, but to answer your question, we are about 20%, I would say right now, back in office. But we want to do that gradually. We don't want to do that, get everyone 100% back in office, one fine day. We don't want to take that approach. We want to be conscious about people's health and make sure they're fully vaccinated.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: And even when we are back, we are going to still follow the social distancing protocols, even when we are back fully in office. Even now, just because I'm the only one sitting in this room, I don't have a mask on, by the time I get out, I need to wear a mask so.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: Those kind of protocols being followed, so I'm really happy about that. But yeah, to answer your question again, 20% now and slowly and gradually wanting to bring people back in office.

Kathleen: Got it. And now I really want to get into kind of that question I posed at the beginning, which is you have worked in a place where you have used an offshore team to supplement, and now you are the offshore team. And so I would love to hear from your perspective, because you work with a lot of different customers, what is it that contributes to a really healthy working relationship with the company that you are serving? Like what should they know about it, and what do you tell your team about it?

Mahendran: Yeah. So I know most of the time, especially when I'm talking about from utilizing an offshore team. So when I think about that, most of the time, the first thing that comes around is cost effectiveness. But I think slowly, most of the agencies and most of the brands are moving away from just being cost effectiveness because it's important to understand what value a partner adds. And that should be defined either with a metric or some kind of an indication that this partnership is heading the right direction. So if I'm choosing an offshore team, I will decide that before I choose my offshore team. So it's not just a cost effectiveness in terms of this is what I want to pay them and look at three to four partners and see who's least expensive for me, but it's in terms of who's going to add most value, once they start supporting my team. And that's something I would like to check on a ongoing basis, it's not a one time check, right.

Mahendran: I would like to set that up as an ongoing check and from the other side, being part of the offshore team that I see that because we push for a quarterly review, at least once a quarter, provide an update on what are the kind of utilization happening, what kind of quality that we are achieving, what are the efficiencies, handling times that we are achieving to show that whatever buck you're paying us, we are adding value, but we also want to go beyond that and say you know what, how much time are we saving for you? You probably came to us either to save time for your team, you either signed up with a partner to save time for your team or to drive revenue or to drive higher revenue.

Mahendran: Is that happening? Is something that they need to have as an ongoing check. I know that I keep telling this to my clients as well, because it's really important that they have the check and not just these standard metrics in terms of utilization and all things. It's great to look into those metrics on an ongoing basis but it's also important to define what is that value add in this partnership and is that value add happening consistently, right? Something that should be related to a particular data metric, or it should be even evaluated somehow internally and that's something is a great way to evaluate a partnership as well over a period of time and say, "You know what? This is a partner I want to stick to for the next few years, regardless of the cost, it doesn't matter. This is the partner I want to stick to because they immediately impact something on my business end."

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: So that's something that is my learning as well, being on the other side, utilizing an offshore team, my first line of priority was cost effectiveness. And the moment I went into that, I had to give up on quality, I had to give up on few other things. The value add wasn't there. And then that's when I realized, you know what, let's aim for value add. And let me define that value, let me tell them that. Let me tell that to my offshore partner, saying this is the metric that is most important to me. Everything else is great, but this is the metric that I want you guys to focus on. And that clarity helps. Being on the offshore partner end, it helps in terms of clarity to guide my team in the right direction and that's something I share with the team directly, whatever the client has sent me as a goal, I share with the team directly. If it's 100 people in the client's team, every one of the 100 people know that this is what the client's goals, and this is what your role is impacting them with. And that clarity on both ends, from my team's end and as well as from the client's end is actually enabling me to deliver a really efficient partnership. At the same time I know, like I mentioned, it feels like an extension of their team, not just a support partner there.

Kathleen: Now, one of the things. So I used to own an agency for 11 years. And in my case, it was a digital marketing agency. And we did a lot of lead generation. And I remember companies would come to us and many times their feeling would be, "Well, this is great. I'm going to outsource my marketing and I'm not going to have to deal with it." Or, "I might have a one hour call every week to deal with it." When in reality, I always try to set the expectation that you're probably going to have still five hours a week worth of work, because it's not just meeting with us, it's reviewing deliverables, it's providing input and feedback. And I think a lot of people, that takes them by surprise, they don't prepare themselves for the amount of work that needs to go into effectively managing an offshore relationship. And so well, in my case, it wasn't offshore, but it might as well have been, right? So I'm curious to get your take on do you do any expectation setting around that? And what would you want someone to know who might be considering offshoring about how much work they should be expecting to still have to put in to make that relationship successful?

Mahendran: Yep. Great question actually, I have faced those scenarios in fact, because it's really important initially, like you mentioned, that in time invested from the clients in, it's one time according to me. You're not going to do that on an ongoing basis, because you're starting with a partner it's important that you set your expectations very clearly. But also at the same time monitor during the initial period whether those expectations are being met or not, and that monitoring is going to take your time, is going to take some time in during the initial period, but it's a one time investment, time investment from the client's end. And during that time, again, from the offshore partner point of view, it's important to provide absolute clarity to the client and absolute visibility more importantly. There is no sugar coating, nothing like that. It's absolute clarity and visibility to them.

Mahendran: And also being clear, there's something that I tell the client that, "Hey, first of all, we're sitting in India. We may not know what's happening in the US at that point. Sure, we do refer news and things like that to get to know what's happening, did the weather changed? But those kind of intel still needs to come from your end because you own the business. It's important that you provide that business intel back to us, whenever we need to know." And that's all you need to do. You share that intel, you don't have to worry about, "Okay, I have a 20 member team, do all the 20 members know about the update?" That's something on managers and leaders like me to make sure my team knows that and is following that religiously.

Mahendran: So that time investment is needed, is definitely needed during the initial days or initial few months of the partnership. But I would say it's months, the moment it becomes years that's when it's not an effective partnership and there's something going wrong, but it does happen over a period of one or two months, but we make a conscious effort on our end that you need to spend that effort once. And we do all the documentation because knowledge retention is extremely key and we give a lot of importance to knowledge retention on our end. So whatever is provided as intel from the client's end, we record that.

Mahendran: And when probably let's say, for example, let's say a scenario happens, it starts snowing in the US. And it starts snowing probably earlier in November, and we know that, "Okay, hey, last November, they notified that it starts snowing and expected to push certain products," we are not going to ask you this. We are going to ask you this time, we are not going to wait for the instruction this time, the next year, right? Because we've seen the trend, it's recorded that last year this happened and it's just checking with the client, "Okay, should we be prepared this year?" And that proactiveness is really helps a client to avoid spending time on doing things repeatedly, because that's something we are conscious about that any instruction or any direction you're providing us, you'll never have to repeat.

Kathleen: I have a couple questions about this. This is interesting.

Mahendran: Sure.

Kathleen: So the first is you talked about setting shared expectations as the client, but also the provider getting on the same page about what success looks like, and then being prepared upfront to spend some time reading your team in, and then over time, keeping you updated on things that are happening. It seems like that all boils down to effective communication, which of course is critical to any sort of a partnership. In your case, I would love to know, what does that look like from a communication cadence standpoint? So I'll give you an example, when I had my agency, with clients we would have a weekly call, we would have a monthly kind of more formal report, and then we would have a quarterly business review. What does that look like for you all?

Mahendran: Yeah, so we'd like to have different agendas for these, because again, we don't want to keep discussing the same thing over and over and probably get the client bored about it because for a weekly call, it's about day to day operations, usually happens on a Monday. What is our plan for the week? Get a clear understanding, okay. These are the expectations for this week. And when we do the month review, it's more of looking back at the previous month and understanding okay, these are the priorities for this month. And it's really helps us make those weekly calls easier, doing that monthly level expectation setting. Okay, this is what we did good, these are the things we can improve on.

Mahendran: And that immediately gives us, gives me an intel to go back to my team and say, these are things that our clients expect us to improve and put an action plan together, and then go back and tell that in the business review. In the quarterly business review that these are things you told us in the previous quarter or in the previous month, and these are things we actioned upon, right? And these are things we are waiting on you. So those kind of expectations we set. But we don't actually wait for these monthly business reviews, we like to do an ongoing conversation, but we also try to be mindful of the client's time as well. Not constantly repeating those asks or questions, but a healthy partnership definitely needs a weekly, monthly, and a quarterly review, but with a different agenda, weekly is more into ground level on a day to day-

Kathleen: Yeah. Weekly is very tactical, right?

Mahendran: Exactly. And the moment you go monthly, and the thing is more, it should be more strategic in terms of how the team should operate and also understanding what's changing on the client's end as well, that's something, I'm really blessed with clients who provide visibility in terms of their org changes as well. So that really helps me understand, "Okay, these are the changes that are happening. These are the personnel changes that are happening, that my team needs to be aware about so that they don't email the wrong person or connect with the wrong person." Those kind of changes also helps me guide my team in the right direction as well.

Kathleen: The other thing that I thought was interesting that you talked about was this notion of recording things and becoming proactive in the future because reflecting on my own experience I remember that one of the biggest challenges we had as an agency was whenever there was, for example, personnel turnover. Like a company hires your agency and the team that's working with them in the beginning gets read in on everything and knows them so well and is a member of their team. But the agency world, at least in the US does have a lot of turnover. And so then somebody would leave, you'd have somebody new come in. And the worst possible thing for a client is feeling like they have to, they have to take on the job of educating the new person. And so I guess this is a two part question. Number one is what would you tell one of your clients about what they should expect from an offshore team, as far as that transition and then two, how do you internally handle that challenge?

Mahendran: Yeah. So I mean, great question. The first part in terms of setting that expectation clearly, if I'm losing some member from my team, A, giving them that heads up early and also explaining them what the clear transition plan. During the transition plan, it's just a heads up for the client. And we keep reassuring them saying, "What about training you did a year ago, you're not going to do that again. We are going to do that for you because we documented and recorded everything you provided," but we need a certain timeline. Whether it's a week or two, depending on the kind of work that we do, sometimes it takes few days. Sometimes it takes two weeks, three weeks, but we do have a notice period kind of thing where it's a two month notice period before you can exit.

Mahendran: So that two month notice period is utilized to A, identify the next person who's going to replace them. And also same time they finish that entire transition, internal knowledge transfer because the moment the new person comes in, it doesn't feel like a new person. It feels like the old person just becomes someone else. They know everything we already know, I don't have to repeat anything. So there's something we consciously do and from our end what we do is A, the existing person also gives us a good indicator on what kind of talent to acquire in the market. So that also gives, okay, we cannot make the client feel like the new person coming is completely different from who existed before.

Kathleen: Right.

Mahendran: Right. That's really important, right? So, A, identify the talent. We have a sample in terms of what kind of talent to look up to and the moment they join us, we don't introduce them to the client immediately. We do some kind of induction and orientation on our end. Again, going through those documentation and we assess them on what their knowledge is. We assess them again in terms of whether they've read the documentation and only when we are confident that this person can be introduced to the client, only then we go and tell them, "You know what? We have identified the person who's going to be your new support member." That's something we consciously do, because we do understand from our client's point of view is it shouldn't feel like, "Oh, this person is leaving. I'm losing an important resource, things going to go down the drain." I know those kind of things shouldn't come up as a concern for the client. We want to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Mahendran: And that's completely in the hands of leaders like me in the org to make sure A, identifying the right talent, but also buying that time from the client that, "Hey, this is a new person, but training that person is on our hands, but we need the time from you."

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: Right. And thankfully, I've been, I'm blessed with clients who give that time, and really supportive during that transition phase as well. They do understand personnel change is not so easy, but we try our best to make it as easy as possible for them.

Kathleen: So we've talked a lot about the things that you as an offshore team need to do to make the relationship successful. And I want to now shift the focus to what the client needs to do to make it successful. And I want to do this like a lightning round. So we're going to have quick things that we can say that, okay, you, as the client, you have your end of the bargain to hold up in order to make us have the best chance of being successful for you. And I'll actually kick it off, from my days as an agency owner, one of my biggest pet peeves and the things that I think some clients really fall down on is honesty. Particularly when they don't like something, or they're not happy, the biggest problems I saw were when they weren't willing to be very upfront about that. And as an agency, having really candid feedback is super important. So I'm going to turn it over to you and I'm going to say, what are three or four things that you think clients really should be doing to give you the best chance of success?

Mahendran: Yeah. So A, it's the clarity of that value add, like I mentioned earlier, what is that value add that the team is going to bring in? Initially, it might look like time saved, but is it impacting revenue? If you provide us that kind of a visibility, it also helps set up the team the right way. And like you mentioned, that honesty, it also clarity and honesty about, why you chose us as your partner. There might be reasons in terms of why you chose us as the partner, and there might be certain things that you want us to achieve. You want to set that clarity from week one, I would say day one of that partnership. It should be, [crosstalk 00:31:06].

Kathleen: Hopefully you said it during the sales process even, before you sign the dotted line.

Mahendran: Yeah. So what we want to do is not just, I mean the salesperson is not going to be the partner for them or the extension of the team. We really want to do that when the team member is identified, we want to do it with them so the team member also understand, "Okay, we are in this partnership because of these and these reasons," and whether it is proactiveness or whether it's subject matter expertise, if the client is expecting something, that's something we want to excel at. And if you're not able to excel at, then that's something on people, leaders like me to make sure that either learning programs or training programs to make them work towards excelling those things. But it starts all the way from, cascades all the way from client being absolutely clear to me and absolutely precise as well.

Mahendran: Sometimes the clients throw words around like proactive and we want you to be proactive, you want to be more accountable, right? What is a proactiveness? Do you want us to alert you about something in advance? Those kind of things if you tell us again, these are one time instructions, you're never going to repeat this.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: If you tell us that on day one or even during, like you mentioned, the sales process, it just helps leaders like me to set up the right team and set up the right process on our end, because we give a lot of importance to quality because we are managing our clients' accounts. And there are large budgets at stake. There is no room for error. So we do probably triple checks in our times, not even a double check, there's triple checks that are done on our end, but that's again, because the client gave me clarity that what, we cannot afford to have any issues or errors in the work that is done. And that's going to impact my business really hard. And that, like you said, will help me set up a absolute quality assurance team or a process. And that's primarily came from because of the clarity provided by the client.

Kathleen: Yeah, I love it. All right, shifting gears, because we're coming up to the end of our time, a couple of quick questions for you. This field of ad ops is changing a lot right now and we haven't really touched on any of this. Everything from privacy regulations to technological change, platform changes, all this new identity stuff. How do you personally stay on top of all of that? Are there certain educational sources that you turn to to make sure you're on the cutting edge and then also, how do you make sure your team stays on top of it?

Mahendran: Yeah. So obviously, first step is the leader needs to be aware of these updates. But also we've created kind of a product weekly update kind of a work stream that hits the, even when the remote working scenario is really important because when we are back in office, it used to be a session that we used to do together and present all the product updates that are coming in. But in the remote working scenario, we're sharing updates on an email. But we all, what we also do is kind of do an assessment to make sure they've understood that update. It's not like if they don't understand the update, we're going to penalize them for it, it just tells us that, "Hey, these are the updates that they probably may not have understood. So we might have to revisit that update a little differently, probably do the product weekly update format in a different way." So it gives that that kind of an intel, but that kind of an update happens on a weekly basis. And this is a really important process for us because Google, search, when if I go to search, Google holds monopoly and Google releases features very regularly.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: Right. And it's important for every campaign manager within my team is aware of those updates because he or she, that campaign manager indirectly informs the client about the update as well. The client may not know about the update that has come. So that's the kind of partner we want to be. It's not just us knowing about an update that is coming, but also make sure the client knows about it. And probably is there a way to exploit that feature for their business.

Mahendran: We want to get that in front of them as early as possible. So to answer your question, first there are a few forums that we read through, but for search, we primarily look up into all the forums for the recent updates, and also while on the social side, there are multiple platform, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, all those platforms, we follow each one of their business pages to be updated, both the features and all the enhancements that are coming in. And that is cascaded to the team, not just a copy paste from that business page and directly come in, but we kind of revisit that and from an understandable point of view and also more digestible point of view. So, and it also helps the campaign manager take it forward to the client and say, you know what, Facebook released this new feature, but we are not using it in any of our campaigns. Probably, we should think about utilizing this feature.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: Right. And most of the time that comes as a surprise to the client because they have not read about the feature. So it's really important that we do give a lot of importance for that and which is why we do it on a weekly once basis. So it has to happen every week. Sometimes there are no feature updates in every week, but it's more around, we refer to a lot to the website called thinkwithgoogle.com. It provides a lot of case studies around how brands use Google and gives an understanding from a marketing perspective. So even if there are no feature updates, we share how brands are used and case studies and things like that. So that campaign managers view that and understand, "Okay, this is how a brand has utilized Google and excelled at phone success." So that kind of perspective is important to be given on a weekly basis.

Kathleen: I love that Think With Google site, there's so much good stuff on there. So that's a great recommendation. Now, the second question is of course, on this podcast, we always profile people who are either currently or in the past have been leaders of ad ops teams. And I would love to know who else you think out there in the industry is doing outstanding work and should be our next guest.

Mahendran: Right now, I refer to this company called WordStream a lot for updated information. I'm not sure if you've heard about it before.

Kathleen: Yes.

Mahendran: But this team is doing a great job in terms of not just managing their clients, but showcasing their information as digestible information for any reader. For example, recently, I just did a search of I want to understand what are the CPC inflations happening, with a raised competition for e-commerce during lockdown. And it's a really heavily competitive area right now in whether it's Google or Facebook.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mahendran: I want to understand what CPC's inflations that are happening and what kind of CPAs that other brands are achieving. Just one search on Google led me to this website that gave me an infographic that told me this. And that's what I like. It's not a huge article that I read through to understand, but there's just a pure visual representation.

Mahendran: And I really love that. I usually take up these visual representation and take it to my team and showcase it. And it's easily by understandable for the team as well. These images speak louder than words, right? So the moment they see that image, they understand, "Okay, these are the changes that have happened." And so I really love that website and really like the work that they're doing. And they're doing all this for free, which actually inspires me as a company to think about, okay, probably MediaMint should come up with their own knowledge base where people can come to the website to read about what are the industry updates that are happening. And right now that WordStream is that website for me, that I regularly visit. And I really love the work that they're doing in terms of showcasing and sharing information to the world.

Kathleen: Nice. All right, that's a great recommendation. Well, before we wrap up, if somebody wants to learn more about MediaMint or has a question and wants to reach out to you, what is the best way for them to connect online?

Mahendran: Yeah. So you can write into sales@mediamint.com. There is actually a form on our website. I mean, even if you want to just talk to us, not talk from a client or partner point of view, but if you just want to talk to us and understand more, there is a form that's on the website that you can submit it and within 24 hours, someone will reach out back to you and take that forward.

Kathleen: Great.

Mahendran: So I strongly recommend visiting the website and submitting the form, will really expertly putting you in touch with us.

Kathleen: All right. Great. Well, this has been a ton of fun and I appreciate getting your perspective from the other side of the offshore relationship. I think it's really interesting. And thank you for sharing that with us, Mahendran, it was great meeting you.

Mahendran: And thank you for this opportunity as well. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Kathleen: You as well.

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