Smartly’s Ryanne Laredo on creativity, privacy, and diversity in social advertising


Ryanne Laredo is CCO at Smartly.io – a social advertising automation platform. I recently caught up with Ryanne to discuss her role in depth, how data can enhance ad creativity, and her thoughts on the future of the industry.

Tell me about your role… what does a typical day look like for you?

In April 2021, I joined Smartly.io where I serve as the Chief Customer Officer. In my role I lead the Customer team and support Smartly.io’s mission of enabling brands to power effective ads and automate every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity.

While no day is “typical”, a typical week includes meeting with leadership from customers and our core platform partners to discuss any challenges and opportunities for us to deliver on Smartly.io’s mission. We spend time understanding what is keeping customers happy and accelerating growth by examining data, behaviours, and having a wide range of direct and indirect conversations with team members and customers, alike.

It isn’t all glory, of course, a part of my role is to remove barriers for my team if something gets in the way of the success of our customers. There are so many dynamics in our industry now that can range from speed bumps to giant mountains to climb, like signal loss. Collaborating across product, engineering and other functions within Smartly.io to share the voice of the customer, while ideating how we help customers stay ahead is one of the most important tasks I have. I also spend a good amount of time supporting and hearing from my team on how their experience at Smartly.io can be improved.

Lastly, a certain amount of time is spent each week focused on learning from experts in CX, AdTech, DEI, and CSR or contributing my voice to those communities. Somewhere in the middle of those activities, a healthy dose of coffee and a good bit of avocado comes in. Perhaps it takes an addiction to solving problems, or a healthy appetite for challenges, but there is never a shortage of exciting things going on – it is one of my core functions in leading the customer team to ensure Smartly.io is the best strategic partner to some of the world’s most advanced advertisers. One of my favourite things since joining Smartly.io is its emphasis on customer-centricity, and I continue to push daily to ensure our users and broader customer base have a one of a kind experience with Smartly.io, one that is rooted in trust that has been earned.

How will Google and Apple’s privacy initiatives impact the industry – and what can marketers do in the face of this?

Privacy has been such a growing topic and for good reason – the adtech industry has not been successful in communicating with customers about how its users are leveraging technology to ultimately make online experiences better and easier. With changes coming from companies like Google and Apple it will be important for marketers to figure out other ways to get meaningful data from users whether from first-party data from customers or third-party data from providers. But one of the biggest ways is through creative testing.

With so many privacy changes now is the time to focus on creative and marketers need to work together with media buying teams to funnel data and produce the right assets that resonate with consumers. Creative data has long been an under-utilised data set. Pair it with experiences in social advertising that evoke a response and connection from consumers and you have an amazing opportunity to redefine what effective ads mean.

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What are your thoughts on the future of Facebook (and its new ‘Meta’ focus?)

For many years Facebook has been on track to become a retail hub and the focus on Meta is an extension of this goal. What is exciting about the metaverse is its goal to expand physical limitations through its virtual constructs. However, consumers are primarily still focused on the real world. Facebook, ‘Meta’ understands this and has discussed opening brick and mortar retail stores. I think that these stores will act as a gateway to the metaverse allowing for consumers to move from the virtual world back to reality almost seamlessly.

What advice would you give a marketer in your industry right now?

Pursue diversity. The industry has a huge diversity problem and while progress has been made the problem remains. I would recommend marketers add diversity, equity and inclusion as a key part of their 2022 planning initiatives. We need to be sharing best practices and setting a standard for the industry, not weaponising our approaches as competitive advantages.

Industry bodies could also develop a unified benchmark to assist companies to better understand how they’re performing against an industry-wide DEI standard. “If you see it, you can be it” has never been more important – and this means in your offices and in your ads. There is a responsibility in both and I am looking forward to seeing real change in the not so distant future.

What has been the greatest achievement in your career so far?

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to foster customer relationships and focus on attraction, engagement, and development. A few achievements and things I’m proud of include co-founding AdTechCares and being a founding member of Chief and Kindred.

I am most proud of what the connections I have made so far have allowed me to do with AdTechCares (ATC). ATC empowers organisations to leverage advertising technology in combating misinformation and keeping humanity well. The organisation of 50+ companies delivers the truth about COVID-19, supports fact-based journalism, and affirms that Black Lives Matter around the world. So far we have been able to put the truth in front of 2B individuals worldwide. I believe in leveraging collective power to take action and make an impact and never have I felt my contributions were more meaningful than possibly preventing further loss of life or human harm caused by misinformation. Chief is a private network designed specifically for senior women leaders — rising VP level through CEO. Chief strengthens the experience of women in the c-suite and affects change from the top-down. I also joined Kindred — a growing network for socially responsible leaders — this year as a founding member

How does Smartly.io balance creativity and data?

At Smartly.io we’re true believers in the power of creative, and all the things creative can do to help elevate social advertising and our industry to new heights. As new research continues to prove the importance of creative, even over targeting, brands need to be able to have tools and solutions at their fingertips that can help them in streamlining their creative optimisation and business outcomes. The momentum towards a creative-first social ad narrative is here to stay, and we’re all in, all the way, innovating and pushing our teams to produce the absolute best solutions possible for the tomorrow of social advertising.

As brands continue to churn out ads at strategic moments, standing out among billions of pieces of content across several social platforms has become a challenge. Many creative teams lack the bandwidth to manually produce creative variations across markets, products, or business lines. Additionally, silos across teams and tools cause communication breakdowns and slow time-to-market.  When it comes to data, it has always been there, before the internet even existed, to power creative decisions. The difference is that there is SO much more now at a much higher volume. Different kinds of data, huge amounts of it, and oftentimes disparate. Smartly.io is committed to helping brands harness that data, organise insights and act on them. The data is there to unleash creativity even further – more than was ever possible before. Data is an accelerant for creativity that powers performance and Smartly.io is here to spark the fire.

As part of Smartly.io’s new Creative Editor experience, teams can more seamlessly scale their creative – across static images or video – and work together on the creative review and approval process to shorten cycles and speed up execution. Better communication and closer alignment will ultimately lead to faster results overall. Bringing in smart technology like AI-powered creative insight also removes guesswork and friction from the process, not only improving results but also collaboration.

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