Podcast: Belinda Smith Discusses EA’s Marketing Arts

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Our guest this week is Belinda Smith, a senior brand marketer at Electronic Arts who is also the author of many smart AdExchanger columns. Belinda is a font of insights for any marketer thinking about bringing their media buying activities in-house.

When she joined EA, the director of media activation role was still loosely defined.

“EA is a place where we look for the best talent, hire the best person for the job and give them an idea of what we think the job should be,” she says in this episode of AdExchanger Talks.

Smith says a big point of pride for EA is its “federated” data approach, which unifies all first-party data, including game, ownership and media data. None of that data leaves EA, for privacy and security reasons.

“We have all of our targeted and data addressable channels in-house,” she says. “We partner with an agency with more traditional broadcast and linear buys, different global deals and custom educations. There’s definitely still some partnership that happens, but we be believe very strongly that all the first-party stuff needs to be us.”

So how should a marketer know if in-housing is the right move?

“The way to know it’s right for you is if you have a mandate,” she says. “If you have a mandate, it’s an easy decision.”

And if you don’t? “I advocate for a crawl-walk-run approach. Whatever agency you’re with, or whoever’s buying your ads … shadow them a little bit. Ask questions. Understand their day-to-day.”

Reading and thinking hard about agency and vendor contracts is also a good idea.

“I don’t think transparency is in conflict with trust,” Smith says. “If you’re running into that, that’s probably a flag. I think it’s wonderful, acceptable and easy to have a very trusting relationship with someone, and need every single piece of that relationship detailed in writing.”

She adds, “We’re heading into a more trustworthy era, because marketers are now getting smarter.”

Also in this episode: The problem with incrementality tests, the return of context and the future of creativity.

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