Q&A with Daina Middleton Exploring Where Marketing & Advertising Are Headed



Adotas is pleased to present a Q&A with Daina Middleton (pictured left), CEO of Ansira.

Q: Where do you see marketing/advertising going in 2018? Are there any notable trends in the industry?

A: Social Participation Sophistication: 2018 may well signal the decline of the overall influence of social media as a passive participation marketing platform. As brands continue to leverage social content, social media will largely continue to evolve into another highly targeted even if slightly more intimate paid media channel. Brands have evolved their content so their customers can interact with it and participate more actively in it. Customers have evolved as well, and place high value on authentic, genuine content and sources. There is a growing awareness and distrust of opaque branded content, such as reviews not transparently housed on or originated from brand sites. Fake News has drawn attention to Fake Branding and consumers are highly sensitive to it.

Experience Marketing Rebirth:  Media planning is regaining some “art” amidst the current trend of “science-driven” programmatic buying that has been popular because, in theory, it was transparent and accountable. As digital technology-enabled platform buying and optimization strategies continue to struggle with waste and fraud, brand marketers and their media partners will look to deepen the relevance and impact of their buys tailored for the individual with an eye toward building long-term customer relationships. Data will increasingly be applied and evaluated for its ability to increase consumer trust and intimacy at the sacrifice of some levels of efficiency and cost-control.

Brand Meets Channel Marketing: As channel marketing becomes more digital, integrating these traditionally sales-managed activities into the overall marketing plan so that marketing can be holistically managed is becoming vitally important. Historically, channel marketing has been managed purely for brand compliance, not marketing effectiveness. Despite this fact, channel marketing budgets have continued to grow while brand budgets have become smaller due to digital driving efficiency. Channel marketing resource management platforms are becoming more sophisticated and feature-rich as technology enables greater levels of in-platform customization, integration with both proprietary and third-party data management, media planning and buying, ad-serving, targeting optimization. CRM applications will also expand into this realm, providing local marketers with autonomy previously unheard of along with the ability to be managed in real-time by their brand-level marketing.

Q: How can large brands tailor their marketing efforts to each niche areas/local industries while still maintaining an overall brand presence?

A: Several “brand2local” alignment activities are occurring simultaneously:

  • Consistency of brand message, presentation, and voice driven down to and aligned with opportunities for targeted local activation (Geography/community, language, culture)
    • Availability of a branded FZ-focused asset base that allows for customizable localized executions while controlling the brand presentation and guidelines and, in some case, localized media planning, buying, trafficking, and co-op fund management and reimbursement.
  • Customer experience is king driven by localized customer insight and opportunities for increased relevancy and penetration. This trend can be seen even for those brands who began in the virtual world first. Warby Parker, Casper Mattress, Bonobos and Peloton are examples of brands who began with a virtual presence and expanded into retail because they place a high value on customer experience.
    • Require FZ “local” marketing performance/optimization data to be captured and evaluated throughout the funnel to conversion and beyond to repeat engagement/loyalty. This data can be leveraged in two ways: to continually increase engagement and segment value at the local FZ level or to push that data back to the national brand level to expand and refine segment of opportunity media and message targeting at the top of the national brand funnel.
  • Ansira’s proprietary Distributor and Localizer technology platforms are designed to help ensure FZ’s are able to easily access approved and customizable branded materials and messaging while our Insighter tool helps manage the data, performance and reporting.
  • All tools allow marketers to unite disparate data streams, and push insights back to the brand level.

Q: What are the top 3 challenges many franchise companies face? How can they overcome these challenges?

A: Brand Integrity and Consistency: At the Brand level, marketers spend a lot of time and money digging into consumer insights and developing brand messaging, campaigns, etc., designed to best engage customer participation. Our experience indicates that FZ’s believe they know best and many times do “their own thing” even though those activities may not support the objectives or guidelines set at the National level.

  • Ansira’s proprietary Distributor and Localizer provide the platforms/tools to help ensure FZ’s are able to easily access approved and customizable branded materials and messaging.
  • Allocating Marketing Budgets to Tactics That Deliver: The reality is not all FZ’s are marketers. Their primary focus is running their business. While larger FZ’s have marketing personnel on staff, many smaller groups are handling the marketing responsibilities themselves. Because of this, they do not always know how to best allocate their marketing dollars and may spend their money on tactics that do not drive business results. In some case, we have FZ’s that work with smaller marketing agencies that don’t share results or have the skills to execute the variety of tactics needed to be successful (search, digital media, direct marketing, etc.). Also, by working in silos, there can be limited sharing of results/success across FZ’s.
  • How Ansira helps solve for this:
    • In the case of Planet Fitness, the FZ’s we work with deploy Insighter so they receive the level of reporting required via dashboards to help inform them of how each tactic is performing – giving them full transparency to the results we are delivering.  Ansira is in the process of developing new reports that better inform National as well as case studies to share across FZ’s to better inform and educate the FZ’s.
    • Our teams work closely with the FZ’s to develop their marketing plans so they are well aware of why recommendations are being made and what success looks like.  We also attend the annual conference where we share key learnings and how we can help them be successful.
    • Reports are shared out through Distributor and Localizer platforms, sharing what assets are downloaded and how budgets are spent. Additionally, we may make recommendations on what types of tactics should be co-opable and at what levels.
  • Competing with Corporate Funds: National and FZ’s at times are focused on tactics that “compete” with one another. This is especially true for companies that do not have strong, formalized programs that facilitate all layers of investment. We often see search marketing falling into this category. If there are multiple FZ’s in a single market and national is advertising in that same market they may all be communicating different messaging to the same consumers and/or paying for the same search terms. This may cause consumer confusion if the messaging, offers, etc. are different. More importantly, they may be wasting marketing dollars by competing against one another in search.
  • How Ansira helps solve for this:
    • In the case of Planet Fitness, Ansira manages the brand and local level search holistically through governance. Governance processes enable National isn’t directly competing with FZ’s, but rather providing complimentary marketing.
    • For those FZ’s where we do their search, Ansira builds off of the National program by managing the branded terms ensuring search dollars are used efficiently and effectively.


About Daina Middleton

Daina Middleton is the CEO of Ansira. She has a diverse history in the marketing space that includes experience in the client, agency and publisher organizations.

Prior to joining Ansira, Middleton worked as a leadership coach working with executives seeking to drive organizational performance and manage change. Before that Middleton headed up B2B Marketing at Twitter where she developed a customer segmentation program to track marketing investment ROI globally.

Under her leadership as CEO of Performics the Publicis agency became the largest performance marketing company in the world with offices in 34 countries. Her experience in performance marketing that drives actions resulted in the book titled Marketing in the Participation Age, 2012.

Before heading up Performics Middleton pioneered social advertising at Atlanta-based interactive marketing powerhouse marketing agency Moxie where she headed up analytics, research, social and innovation.

Before moving to the agency side of the business, Middleton worked 16 years at Hewlett-Packard where she managed every marketing function during her tenure pioneering both digital and search. 

Over her nearly 30 years in the advertising and marketing industry she’s worked across virtually every category imaginable, and with iconic brands such as Nestle, Verizon, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Bose, Kohl’s, Toyota, and Singapore Airlines to name but a few, and managed teams in 40 countries.

Middleton’s most recent book, Grace Meets Grit: How to Bring Out The Remarkable, Courageous Leader Within (Bibliomotion, 2016), is designed to drive actionable behavioral change for women and men in the workplace and a new conversation around gender.

Middleton also serves as a director on the board of Marin Software. Her work has been published in Forbes, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Ad Week, and she has appeared on CNBC.

She loves the outdoors, fly-fishing, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. Her work and family have her traveling often between Texas, Wyoming, and Idaho.


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