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Advertising Leadership Series: Q-and-A with ANA CMO Duke Fanelli

6 min read


SmartBrief, as part of its Advertising Leadership Series, is interviewing top executives at the 4A’s, IAB, MMA and ANA.

In the fourth post of the series, Duke Fanelli, chief marketing officer at the Association of National Advertisers, talks about the rapidly changing marketing industry, the ANA’s expansion through deals with the Brand Activation Association and the Business Marketing Association, and collaborative efforts to transform digital media measurement.

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The ANA held its Masters of Marketing conference this past month — what were some of the main takeaways from the speakers and panels?

This year’s Masters of Marketing was the most successful to date. We had more than 2,800 marketers register for the conference. The feedback on the speakers, programs and events has been very positive.

Each year, several themes emerge, and this year was no different. The importance of knowing your customer continued to be a central theme as was the effective use of data. Several speakers also focused on the importance of understanding that creativity can come from all parts of an organization. A number of speakers also stressed the need to be true to your brand. As Marty St. George, senior vice president of commercial at JetBlue Airways explained,  “You can’t say one thing and do another; it’s important to consistently follow through on what your brand promises consumers.” ANA has a number of public-facing videos on our website that feature the key takeaways. I encourage marketers to take a look.

How has your job as CMO of ANA changed since you started in 2010?

Since joining the ANA four and a half years ago, we’ve become much more focused on understanding what our members need, and tailoring the marketing communications to meet those needs. Our content is more targeted and we devote more time to dissecting the issues most relevant to marketers. We are constantly working to insure our members are getting the information they need to add value to their roles and their company’s bottom line. As an organization, our members today have many more opportunities to interact with us and their marketing colleagues through a broad variety of conferences, committees, webinars and learning and training opportunities. The ANA’s focus is on fostering marketing excellence and providing leadership that shapes the future of the industry. Therefore, we focus on creating opportunities to help marketers excel and be their best.

What are some of the challenges of leading marketing at an association?

First off, the ANA is run more like an entrepreneurial business than an association. We operate in a test-and-learn environment. While we are a 104-years-old organization, we’re dynamic and always driving to be better than we were yesterday. We are constantly assessing how we do business and how to increase the value we bring our members. In the past five months alone we announced two acquisitions. In July we acquired the Brand Activation Association, and the board of directors of the Business Marketing Association recently unanimously agreed to join ANA as a division. (A vote by the BMA membership to combine forces is scheduled for late November.)

With marketing is changing on an almost daily basis, we, as the leading association for client-side marketers, are constantly looking to optimize what we offer our members. Whether it’s training and learning opportunities, inviting a speaker to share the latest marketing innovations at one of our conferences or providing members with the latest thought leading content, our job is to help drive marketing excellence so members can positively impact their company’s bottom line.

What will the BMA-ANA combination mean for B2B marketers?

 The combination benefits B2B marketers in general as well as both organizations. BMA will be able to grow its community and dramatically scale its operations. The ANA membership currently includes 160  B2B marketer member companies representing 12,000 marketers. This gives the BMA a huge opportunity to extend its business marketing network. In addition, the BMA gains an established infrastructure, resources and intellectual capital that the ANA can provide. At the same time, as I mentioned,  about a quarter of the ANA’s 635 member companies focus on the B2B side of the business. The ANA wants to strengthen the value it provides our members. We will encourage our existing B2B  members to participate in BMA chapter, regional and global events and meetings. In addition, ANA members will have access to BMA’s educational content and its established network.

ANA has been working on several efforts related to the measurement of digital media, including the 3MS initiative in partnership with the 4A’s and IAB. What does success look like here? What does ANA hope to accomplish?

Making Measurement Makes Sense (3MS) kicked off roughly three-and-a-half years ago with the objective of transforming digital measurement by moving from served impressions to a viewable impressions standard. While there are a number of important aspects to 3MS, viewability was the first and most important piece. As a result, it has been a primary focus of mine and the 3MS team. I’m happy to say  we’ve made tremendous strides — we moved the needle from barely discussing  the issues surrounding served impressions to an avalanche of conversation around viewability.

Not all of the conversations have been positive and while there is still misunderstanding and miscommunication, tremendous strides have been made. Everyday more and more of the industry is agreeing that marketers shouldn’t pay for advertising no one is seeing. I don’t want to minimize the challenges, there are a lot of complex issue, with lots of moving parts that impact the entire marketing supply chain.  There’s a lot more work that has to be done to get the industry aligned,  but I can’t stress enough the great progress that has been made. Conversation and understanding is growing every day. Part of 3MS’ success can be attributed to the strong partnership that exists between the ANA, IAB and 4A’s, along with the support and hard work of the Media Rating Council. The MRC has been the engine moving viewability forward.

ANA’s member companies come from all kinds of industries. And we know marketing is a rapidly changing industry. But what has stayed consistent across all members despite all the upheaval?

Regardless of the industry, it’s still all about the consumer, or customer, or member. You can take your pick. I remember back in the mid-’90s when I was in banking we were talking about the need for one-to-one marketing. We even gave away T-shirts that said “I am a segment of one” It’s as true today as it was 20 years ago. The focus on the customer hasn’t changed. Relevancy, trustworthiness, transparency aren’t just words, they’re customer expectations. The focus on the customer needs to be top of mind everyday.  Regardless of the industry, our job as marketers is to give consumers the information they need to make the best informed choices. While, today, we have many more ways to  interact, what consumers want from us has remained the same.