Expert View: 'Great Marketers Are Cultural Anthropologists'

We sat down with Anna Fieler, CMO at POPSUGAR


Anna Fieler is the Chief Marketing Officer of POPSUGAR where she oversees marketing for the #1 lifestyle media company for young women that is attracting a global audience of 100M and a content view of 2.5 Billion per month across social media. Anna has a passion for building disruptive venture-backed businesses. Her track record includes serving as the CMO of Stella & Dot to help reinvent the direct-selling industry for the digital age, leading marketing at Tiny Prints where she grew the brand from a niche player to a household name resulting in a successful exit via acquisition by Shutterfly and various leadership positions at eBay where she had long tenure during the company’s hyper-growth era. 

Prior to a career in Silicon Valley, Anna began her career on Madison Ave, notably at Ogilvy & Mather where she helped develop the foundation for Dove’s ground-breaking 'Real Women, Real Beauty' campaign. She also currently serves on the board of Girls Leadership, a non-profit that teaches girls the tools to be resilient and brave. 

Ahead of her presentation at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit this May 24 - 25 in San Francisco, we sat down with Anna to talk all things marketing, from social to the role of data. 

Marketing leaders have had to adapt time and time again in recent years, for you, what has been the biggest change?

Great marketers are cultural anthropologists, and as marketers we are living in such fascinating times because the speed of innovation and the resulting consumer behavior change has been staggering! I’ve always been a fast learner but have had to learn even faster -- just as I’ve mastered Instagram there was Snapchat to learn and now I’m doing my shopping through a chatbot!

What approach have you taken to social media and how are you measuring your success? (brand awareness, clicks, shares etc.)

Social media is where the majority of our audience engages with our content, and being “social first” is central to our strategy. We believe that engagement is the most important measure. Reach and impressions can be bought, but when someone engages with your content (likes, comments, shares), you know you’ve really reached them in a meaningful way. Because of this focus, POPSUGAR is #1 in social video views and engagement in our competitive set (source: Tubular Labs, Last 365 Days, Feb 2017).

How are you successfully managing (and optimizing) a multichannel brand presence?

We are extremely successful at developing content across a range of platforms. We optimize and edit for each platform specifically - one-size-fits-all posts tend to fall flat. Our Snapchat posts look and feel quite differently from Instagram posts. You must adjust the message to the medium.

How crucial is the role that data plays in your decision-making?

Data is our secret sauce -- what powers the effectiveness of our storytelling. It helps us predict stories that will engage our audience, course correct how we distribute the story, optimize the story for a particular platform, and get better at our craft with each try. Because it’s so central to what we do, we have created a proprietary platform, TrendRank, that measures not only trends across a few hundred publishers, but also trend velocity so we can mine predictive data.

New technology adoption and transforming staff practices can be a tricky process - what tips do you have to make this a success?

Our employees, from our engineers to our editors to our marketers, must be nimble and open to adopting new technologies. A few years ago Snapchat did not exist - now we have tens of millions of monthly views on that platform. We hire people who love to dig in and experiment with what’s new. You never know what will bubble up and be the next big thing, and new technologies and ways of communicating can be great opportunities, especially for young employees looking to carve out a space for themselves.

What do you foresee to be the biggest area of growth in marketing through 2017?

We are bullish on native advertising, especially through video, and see that as the rocket fuel to our growth. While Millennials reject traditional advertising, they have shown us that they are open to marketing messages when it’s presented in ways that add value -- inform, inspire or entertain -- which is what we strive to do in our native work. They have also shown us that while a picture is better than a thousand words, a video is even better! We see great engagement with our videos and believe it will be one of the preferred ways our audience will want to consume lifestyle content in the future.

You can hear more from Anna, along with other industry-leading marketing executives, at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit this May 24 - 25 in San Francisco, To see the full schedule, click here.

San francisco small

Read next:

Expert View: 'Channel Management Is A Constant Juggling Act'