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Kim Davis - Editorial Director at Martech

July 13, 2021

Kim Davis - Editorial Director at Martech
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Welcome to this week's episode on The Radcast! Get ready for Editor, Writer, Speaker, and current Editorial Director of MarTech, Kim Davis.

Welcome to this week's episode on The Radcast! Get ready for Editor, Writer, Speaker, and current Editorial Director of MarTech, Kim Davis. 

In this episode on The Radcast, host Ryan Alford talks with guest Kim Davis about his editorial journey, stories that are still hitting his radar and can’t be ignored. They also dissect the distinction between performance marketing and brand building... 

This is an amazing episode as Kim opens up about changes he has seen the most from the last 10 years in the advertising and marketing world, the huge impact it has made while also sharing great insights for exactly how to go about this. 

Kim also had a quick take on RAD or FAD keyword trending topics:

  1. Clubhouse and/or “Social Audio”
  2. TikTok for the Main Stream
  3. Social Commerce
  4. Cancel Culture
  5. Internal Brand Ad Agency’s

To learn more about Kim Davis, follow him on LinkedIn, or visit https://martech.org/

If you enjoyed this episode of The Radcast, let us know by visiting our website www.theradcast.com or leave us a review on Apple Podcast. Be sure to keep up with all that's radical from @ryanalford @radical_results @the.rad.cast


“It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?” 

“You’re listening to The Radcast. If it’s Radical, we cover it. Here’s your host, Ryan Alford.” 

Ryan Alford [00:00:50] Hey, guys, what's up? It's Ryan Alford. Welcome to another edition of the Radcast. It's the post-July 4th holiday for us here. I am both a little sunburned and maybe a little tired from my vacation camp. But Kim Davis, editorial director of MarTech, thanks for coming on Kim. 

Kim Davis [00:01:12] Great to be with you. We didn't get too much sun up in the Northeast but hope you have a good break. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:19] We did take the family down to the lake. We have lots of beautiful lakes and parks in the South Carolina area. So we did get down. But, you know, Kim, I want to get right into it. Let's talk a little bit, maybe to start before we get into your background about what you do. I mean, the editorial director, I think people know that you write and edit stories as it relates to marketing. That's the bread and butter. But talk a little bit about that, your current position at MarTech. 

Kim Davis [00:01:50]  I am, as you said, the Editorial Director of MarTech. I commissioned stories from contributors. I have staff currently of one and we may be expanding shortly. We produce content internally. We have a daily newsletter which has good circulation. We also do some webinars. Last summer we did a very nice series of video interviews and we're thinking of kicking that off again. On social media, we have the usual mix of content these days, it's not just a website, but it's kind of spreading the brand everywhere. 

Ryan Alford [00:02:27] I love it. So MarTech is short for marketing technology?. Is that true or is it Marcham Technology? 

Kim Davis [00:02:38] Well, let me put a nuance on that, if I may. MarTech in everyday parlance is short for marketing technology. What we are thinking of when we use the name MarTech is the combination of technology and the strategies which it reflects and implies. Because I think if you put marketing technology at the heart of your marketing, which I think most people should be doing, then that does affect your entire strategy and approach. 

Ryan Alford [00:03:03] That's a key distinction. I'm glad you did that. MarTech has been on my radar. I mean, I came up with the traditional side of things the first 10 years of my career, and then the last 10 have been in digital. It's more just following the trends and the realities of where the eyeballs and where everyone is. But Martech has always been one of those pillar content places for me, all your great SEOs, a  trusted source, whereas an agency owner now and as someone that's been in the business, someone that admires the work that you guys have done.  I want to come back to marketing; we keep everything centered in that space, being the thread of everything, but I do want to give you our listeners Kim, some of your editorial background and a little bit more about your achievements, the journey, and all that stuff. So let's talk a little bit about that 

Kim Davis [00:04:08] OK, I'll go into as much detail as you wish. It certainly hasn't been a straightforward trajectory. I got my first journalism job straight out of high school as a teenager, working as a music journalist back in the days when music journalism was printed on inked paper, pre-digital, of course. And I went to college on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I co-founded a philosophy journal. Then it was a whole bunch of different things. I'll bring us up to date. I arrived in the States twenty-five years ago. I've been a New Yorker for twenty-five years and the first journalism job I had here was working on the joint project between the New York Times and New York University, which was hyper-local journalism. But I got to help run a newsroom full of excited journalism students and that was a lot of fun. And then to cut a long story short, it was really by chance, I was looking around for something a little more permanent and I thought of tech journalism, I knew nothing about technology, I  can scarcely change a light bulb. But I filled out an application form and they interviewed me. I liked the people and I became a cybersecurity editor. I had to read six books on cybersecurity before my first day on the job.  Then I gradually moved through other kinds of enterprise software, including marketing technology, ended up on a little website called "The Hub", which was exclusively MarTech, and then that got subsumed into what was then direct marketing news that got rebranded as DMNof which I became Editorial Director. DMN closed down last year and after a short pandemic influenced pause. I was very happy to join MarTech as Editorial Director. That is it,  I said as best I can. 

Ryan Alford [00:05:58] Well, how would you categorize so many different, as you said, the winding journey, your editorial journey, and all of that? Do you have a style or an approach that weaves through all of that, or has it been as evolving and as changing as the categories themselves? 

Kim Davis [00:06:16] I think I probably do. There are going to be differences depending on your audience. But I do like to tell stories, in a sense, I embed myself in the story. I'm not quite talking gonzo journalism, but to bring the audience there. I was here, I saw this, I spoke to these people, which is a kind of traditional journalism. But I do like to try and carry the audience on a journey not just through the one story, but from week to week as they see how the stories interweave and how one links to the other. 

Ryan Alford [00:06:46] Any highlights to call out, like what it was before; we'll come back to marketing here eventually, but, throughout that, there's got to be maybe a few bright spots or few or even low spots? I'm sure we have a lot of editors and writers out there that listen to the podcasts, any words of inspiration or highlights from those journeys? 

Kim Davis [00:07:16] Well, I got some highlights from back in my music journalism career where I met people like Debbie Harry from Blondie. In terms of writing more recent stuff, I did a piece a few months ago on the teacher challenge which companies are facing, and that could be a very dry kind of piece. I mean, everyone knows it's important but how do you make it interesting? I was able to speak of stories to people with very different points of view, some things in common, and weave together a kind of again, journey outfits, to take the reader from the point-(A); We've got this big problem right through not to a resolution, but to seeing what possible options there are out there. 

Ryan Alford [00:07:56] Talk about it through a different lens; How have you watched and seen media changed and the consumption of media? I grew up on this dual-line, I remember in my industry, you get the adage, you get the magazine, you get probably six or seven different subscriptions 15 years ago, the magazine, the printed piece and I know some of that is the tactile starting to come back a little bit. Everything comes full circle, I guess. But from you, the writer's standpoint, how has the media evolution and changes drastically changed the way you do things? 

Kim Davis [00:08:35] I think it has, the keyword for me is fragmentation, how over the last 10, 15 years, media has fragmented and lots of the culture has fragmented. It's partly because of this wonderful world we live in where everything is available at your fingertips. You can't consume everything. So people pick and choose their nations, their special interests, and the channels and devices they want to receive the money. I remember going back to my early days in New York. I can't tell you which year it was, if Seinfeld was on TV, everyone stopped to watch Seinfeld and if anyone was interested in music they would read the magazine Rollin Stones, but now everyone's off in different directions. How it affects me as a writer is something I alluded to earlier. I'm not just churning out a series of features for the same publication or website. I'm having to hop from channel to channel and from platform to platform, from video to audio to the written word, trying to engage with the audience where they want to be found. 

Ryan Alford [00:09:38] We run up against that same challenge with brands that we work with depending on their size. We work with medium-sized companies at this stage and even the medium-sized people, they have the resources that they have, and it's where to find the audiences and how diverse,  whether it's Tik Tok or YouTube or Facebook or, like you said, a printed piece of blog. The content opportunities are endless. But, having to refix the message appropriately to each channel can be overwhelming. 

Kim Davis [00:10:22] And that's got to be the case. There was a time when you could run one TV ad campaign per quarter and see how it performed and do the next TV ad campaign. If you try and run the same campaign across every kind of channel these days, it's not going to work. At the same time, you want some brand consistency,  you don’t want to appear completely different brands on every channel. That must be a headache for you agency guys. 

Ryan Alford [00:10:45] It is every day. It's the journey that we live. What to you, whether it's pre-marketing, writing and technology writing, or even today, is a common thread when you're either evaluating a story that's brought to you? Are there some commonalities to what truly makes a great story for you, for your readers or listeners or watchers, depending on the channel? 

Kim Davis[00:11:13] Yeah, I think I stated that our audience is marketers, and these marketers, in the very broadest sense, will include marketing operations, people actually running the systems. So what we always ask ourselves is, will this story help them do their jobs? Will it tell them what's coming down the road for them?  Will it help them look at the future a little bit? And that means we tend to shy away from it. It Is easy to write a story every day about what some tech vendor is doing, the latest innovation, the latest thing they're launching. We get pitched those all the times you can imagine. And a lot of them are interesting and some aren't. But we're always asking ourselves, what do our audience and marketers need to know? And a great way to inform them on that, I think is always if we can speak to brands who are using the technologies, using the solutions, what's been their experience with them? 

Ryan Alford [00:12:03]Be smart in everything we do. Even though brands are so many, correlations here are with what you're talking about and marketing as a whole. Keep your audience front and center and think about them and not yourself,  because sometimes we think about what we're interested in or what's good for us or what we're doing,  the speeds and feeds of our product versus,  ok, what problem am I solving? What does the audience need from this? What is the solution that you're bringing? So I think that's part of the success of Martech over the years. Being on the forefront, you pitch these stories, you're seeing the technology change; Is there a few things that you would talk about the last 10 years or so; which I think changed so fast, like day to day now almost, period-specific doesn't matter as much as to things as a whole that stands out to you, and how you see marketing and advertising change? 

Kim Davis [00:13:05] Yeah, and I think there's something we just touched on. You're not addressing a mass audience anymore. You just can't now. But that raises the question, ok so what are you addressing? And if you listen to the cutting-edge technology suppliers, they'll talk about literally one-to-one individual personalization. That they say is the key to success. Addressing me, addressing Kim,  the relevant message at the right time of day, just at the right moment. That's great for some enterprises, maybe but there are a lot of brands that just don't have the digital maturity to do that. They don't have control over the data. So you take a step back and you think you're addressing audience segments, the better you can segment your audiences, the better you can be sure of delivering something relevant. So  I think that's the main change. As you say, it's accelerating enormously away from getting as many eyeballs, whoever they belong to on your message, that just doesn't pay off anymore. We're all deluged with advertising, you're showing me a message that's not for me, it's not something I want to hear about, just to go right up in my head. 

Ryan Alford [00:14:15] So true. And that's where I'm really interested in your opinion on this and I know you are an ad agency person. You're a writer, writing about marketing technology, but you're certainly seeing so many of these stories and the technologies, and as an agency owner, we pride ourselves on being great storytellers as well and have really been coaching our clients not to forget about branding. As you said, I feel like we've reached this pendulum, where it's all about the technology and targeting and data, and  I'm dataed and confused. Has the pendulum swung too far in all this tech, all this stuff?  We've got our brand and we've got to tell people why they should care about us, has it swung too far? 

Kim Davis [00:15:09]If it has swung in that direction then that's a big mistake and that's certainly something we've learned over the last fifteen, sixteen months. A brand is absolutely essential. And by Brand, I just don't mean a nice logo with the right colors, I mean brand values, brand reputation, what the brand stands for. Because as I said, you're addressing specific audiences and you better be able to know who you're addressing. And those audiences today, especially now, are going to care about things much more deeply than the product or service they're researching. And oh boy, your brand had better be on message for the consumers you want to reach. And obviously, I would hope for sincerity in the message, because insincerity is going to be ferreted out by the audience if I can use that expression. 

Ryan Alford [00:15:56] Do you guys talk about the brand at MarTech specific to the MarTech brand? You have had some evolution obviously, even in the time that you've been there. Do you guys have that kind of conversation? And how do you think about MarTech as a brand? 

Kim Davis [00:16:13] Yeah, we've actually been having those conversations recently. As some of the viewers already know, MarTech is a relatively new creation coming out of bringing together MarTech and Marketing Land into one entity. So, yeah, a good deal of talk about branding and how we present it. And we're presenting it as;  Martech is marketing, which, as I said earlier, doesn't mean it's the wires and plugs on the floor marketing, but it's the whole mindset and strategy of approach which evolves out of putting technology at the center of what you're doing. 

Ryan Alford [00:16:47] Yeah, I love it. Is there any kind of story?; we'll get real topical stories that we should call out maybe to our listeners and watchers, the stories that you just can't ignore anymore?. You've hit on a few things already with targeting and all that, which is really smart. Is there anything, a technology capability or it could be more functional or broader than that, stuff that we should be putting on the forefront because you can't ignore it anymore? 

Kim Davis [00:17:33] Yes, and I call out three things for you. The first is the data challenge. Let me explain what I mean, I look back over the last few years and it's as if marketing technology was built backward. It started with really good execution systems, delivery systems, systems to take the message the last mile on the journey to the customer and then you realize it needs to be data-driven. And people started trying to pull the data together and discovered that was really hard because organizations and especially big ones, have data in so many places and they have data about the same consumer in so many places,  from the call center to sales, to marketing and so on, and bringing them all together in a way that you can actually execute on it in a reasonable amount of time. Not like having a team of data scientists pulling reports about what I did last, you know, six months ago, it's a real challenge and that's why there's a lot of talks these days about customer data Platform; CDPR may or may not be the solution and that's something we're covering very closely. That's number one. The second thing which you really can't ignore now is Google's deprecation of third-party cookies, even though it's been pushed back to, let's about say, twenty twenty-three, it's a real challenge to advertising, especially programmatic advertising, and there's a lot of competition now to provide alternative IDs but these IDs generally rely on some piece of first party data, like an email address. And I guess, even if a publisher like The New York Times has me as a subscriber and I have a login, I'm going to be looking at it without looking and they don't know I'm there. You just lose a huge percentage of the audience without third-party cookies. Whether Google Fluck alternative will solve the problem is yet to be seen. It looks like a way to create a walled garden for Google, a bit like Facebook. But that's the other story which I'm thinking about every day a lot more quickly. Another thing that  I think cannot be ignored today is diversity and inclusion in marketing organizations, marketing teams, agencies of course, and publishers like ourselves. Horror stories I've seen just over the last year; startup, technology, marketing technology startups trying to raise capital,  you're much more likely to raise that capital if you're a white man. If you're a woman, you do worse, if you are a black woman you do even worse. And if you're a black woman who identifies as LGBTQ, well you're going to have a struggle' And it shouldn't be like that this year. So that's the story I can't overlook either. 

Ryan Alford [00:20:19] Interesting. All really good and I'm glad to go there because I have a story I'm going to send you. I have an idea for your number two, they're all around the cookie's going away. I have some good stuff for us and I'll send that to you after the episode. But those are great. All top of mind for us as an agency, especially the Google stuff, first-party data is so important now for companies that they've got to be collecting it. You've got customers that are having a relationship with you. You've got to learn to collect that data smartly and to, communicate with them appropriately and not misuse it, which is the key. Right? But the danger here, though, and I don't say this self-serving as a digital agency owner, but the danger I see in all of this is, I am all for privacy but I also don't want fingernail polish in my Facebook feed as an ad. I don't want to go back to 15 years, ten, twelve years ago of irrelevant ads either. 

Kim Davis [00:21:23] Totally as an experiment, anyone watching this can try browsing incognito; If you want to see what that's like,  go to sites you usually visit and see ads that have nothing to do with you at all. 

Ryan Alford [00:21:33] I know. So we've got to be careful what  We ask for. I'm hoping we can find the perfect balance and we have some strategies and things that we're deploying for our clients down that first party, as well as share party data and things like that. But trying to find that balance of privacy and all of those and diversity inclusion is super important. I talk about it a lot, we can't solve the problems of today with the solutions of yesterday and,  the perspective that you get and what comes to the table when you have diverse people working together is really important. Not only is it from a fairness standpoint, but it's also just crazy that in twenty, twenty one we're even having this conversation, which is a whole other story, but you don't realize the perspectives in the additive nature of having that diversity and how important that is. 

Kim Davis [00:22:28] And how are you going to reach all those specific fragmented niche Audiences, if you don't understand them? 

Ryan Alford [00:22:36]  Bingo, exactly. So is there anything, with covid related?... We try to keep it out of the episode as much as possible because we're coming out of it, hopefully. But the stories that you've seen are things, maybe absolutive like zoom calls. Those are sticking around some. But is there anything you think that is going to hang around? The genies that aren’t going back in the bottles after covid?. 

Kim Davis [00:23:05] Oh, for sure. I think this is going to be one of the most exciting stories to follow over the next 12 months to see what sticks and what doesn't. But yeah, we're living in a digital world now. We've all gotten used to that over the last 15, 16 months. And lots of the behaviors we've developed, certainly as consumers are not going to go back to what they were before. I mean, if you've had your groceries delivered for the last year and it's been effortless, you're not necessarily going to start going around half a dozen stores, you might go to some specialist place with some particular product so those changes can stick around. On the B2B side, I have to mention that as well, that's exciting. But they all had to go through an astonishing digital transformation. These traditional businesses, construction, hardware are used to having field marketing, meeting people, doing demos on-site, having five or six events a year where they could bring all their customers together. They had to start from scratch and become pretty much completely digital. And that's not all going away. I'm traveling next week to my first in-person event since this all started. And that's the other exciting thing because people have realized the virtual events have a huge audience reach, are relatively inexpensive, don't require travel, and the carbon footprint that goes with it. So I don't see virtual events going away, but we're going to see them in person again. So all these changes we are going to be looking at soon. It's going to be fascinating. 

Ryan Alford [00:24:37] It is. And, you know, just the growth of e-commerce, as you said, you talked a little bit about the convenience factor of different things, that I think grew, they said by seven X as planned in seven years, they expected the amount of growth that we had and one or something like that.  As the data changes and it's certainly been recognized with our clients and I do think the travel thing is going to be interesting where you see these blends of virtual and in-person. I still think there's some value depending on the type of event, for that human touch. So it'll be interesting to see what the balance is. Are there any other big conferences on your radar this year from a marketing perspective that you will attend? 

Kim Davis [00:25:22] I don't think it's going to be much this year. When the spring season comes around next year, as long as we stay on the same trajectory, I think we'll see some of the big conferences coming back. And in 2019, I think I will go to 14 conferences. So 2020 was a very strange time for me. 

Ryan Alford [00:25:39] You're used to it and you're loving it or are you missing it?  I'm not sure which one.

 Kim Davis [00:25:46] it's never the right amount. So it's too much or not enough. 

Ryan Alford [00:25:50] I love it. Well, we've got a little segment. We like to finish things off with Kim if you're game? We call it rad or fad. There are some hot trending things or even things that have been around a little while, but seem to be popping up again. So I'm going to just cut through them maybe one word or short answer responses for Rad or Fad. First one on the list, clubhouse and or social audio, Rad or Fad. 

Kim Davis [00:26:22] I'm going to say Fad,  I've never been on Clubhouse, but I think brands can do a better job building an identity around a podcast series or something like that. I'm not sure how the social audio really will play out. Maybe some will figure it out. 

Ryan Alford [00:26:35] Ding, ding, ding. I agree. Been tooting that from the get-go again, we finally got into this place where we can get content on-demand, and now I'm going to go only when it's live. When you do that there's a mismatch there with trends. I think it was just something that because of Covid, people had a lot of time for, so we'll see. How about Tik Tok for the mainstream? It's been the 13-year-old to the 23-year-old platform so long and it's definitely gotten more mainstream as there's definitely a lot of older audiences there, but what are we, Rad or Fad with Tik Tok for the masses. 

Kim Davis [00:27:14] Rad. A great campaign I covered was of beauty and Topokley producing a beauty pack designed to look like a case of burritos. So that reaches an audience bigger than just the teenagers from its dancing. So. Yeah, Rad. 

Ryan Alford [00:27:32] Totally agree, how about social commerce, social media, selling, and e-commerce through social media? 

Kim Davis [00:27:39] Double Rad. Why would you want to have a customer discover your product and send them somewhere else to buy it? That's got to be the future. 

Ryan Alford [00:27:48] Got to remove friction in the purchase path that Kim Davis he's now on.  Cancel culture, Rad or Fad?. 

Kim Davis [00:28:01] I'm going to go neutral on that because there's no way it's a one-word answer, I'll just say that if consumers feel they need to withhold their customer from a brand whose values they find obnoxious, I don't think it's counseling, I mean, that's normal behavior. 

Ryan Alford [00:28:14] Agreed. The only thing I can't stand, though, is everyone's offended by everything. I just don't want comedy to die. I feel like comedy is dying. You know, because of cancer culture, 

Kim Davis [00:28:25] No one is going to be a comedian.  

Ryan Alford [00:28:30] Right now, you can't make fun of anyone and can make comedy parodies. You know, everybody is getting dried up. And the last one and I don't know how much this hits your radar, but I imagine it does; the big brands with internal ad agencies, Rad or Fad. 

Kim Davis[00:28:49] Yeah, I think that's probably Rad, I'm not right on top of it, as you say, but I do hear about it happening and I think it's going to be for big brands. I don't know that small to medium brands are going to maintain those kinds of things in-house. 

Ryan Alford [00:29:03] Yeah, it's one of these pendulums that started to go this way in two thousand and eight or nine. There's a lot of this happening and it seems to swing back and forth. But I think it makes sense for them as you said, the big brands that could do it because they have so many content needs. It's hard and they have to react so quickly. So I understand. I think it's a balance. The blended formula is always what we recommend. We don't want to put ourselves out of business  Kim. Well, Kim, I really appreciate getting to know you through this, and I hope we can continue your relationship and share more stories and appreciate you coming on the podcast. Where can everyone keep up with you, MarTech, all of those things? Let's call out a few places where they can find you guys. 

Kim Davis [00:29:49] Yeah, sure. MarTech the URL is martech.org. I'm on LinkedIn of course, and I'm on Twitter as Kim Davis underscore. 

Ryan Alford [00:29:59] Well, thank you so much, Kim. I really enjoyed it. Hey guys, you know where to find us. We're at  Radcast.com and all of our content is there. We've got a search bar. You can search MarTech and every episode highlights every clip. Everything is searchable. Find us at radcast.com, find us on YouTube, our YouTube channel just search Radical company. All right, guys, you know where to find me. I'm Ryan Alford. I'm verified on all the channels. You know where to get me. We'll see you next time on the Radcast. 

Kim Davis

Editorial Director At Martech