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Preeti Nadgar, Chief Strategy Officer, EssenceMediacom US

EssenceMediacom's new US Chief Strategy Officer on reaching ad avoiders

Preeti Nadgar, EssenceMediacom’s new chief strategy officer for the U.S., knows her job is about more than placing ads.

Formerly EssenceMediacom’s head of strategy for global clients and the leader of its Media Futures Group, Nadgar succeeds Anush Prabhu, who moves to global chief strategy officer for Creative Futures at the newly merged agency. Nadgar now steps up to the role with the intent of designing content to serve what she calls the “human needs” of consumers on behalf of her clients. And that, she said, requires “hacking” platforms to better reach consumers where they are. The following interview is lightly edited for length and clarity.

What do you mean when you hack a platform?

A strategist’s role in this world is a deep understanding of modern platforms and digital communities. Understanding the rules of these platforms makes us best positioned to hack the algorithm so that our brands can connect with people in meaningful ways. You have to know all the rules to be able to hack the rules. How are you bringing culturally relevant ideas that have personally relevant value messaging to the people receiving them, and that are also built in the relevant language and behavior platform? We understand the APIs, programming and brand safety. [It's about] talking to people where people are receptive to the brand’s message.

Can you give me an example of a time you hacked a platform?

Google is one of our big clients. Recently, we placed an out-of-home ad in Times Square. More than that, we placed a 3D out-of-home ad in Times Square for just two hours because we understood that it wasn’t really an out-of-home ad. It was a 30-second video that would travel because of its scarcity and its interest. We understand that when a 3D out-of-home [ad] is placed, people are naturally going to want to experience it. People who are there are going to share it, and therefore we are creating a reach beyond what that particular piece of work was producing.

How does your job change with the introduction of technology and AI?

The central premise is relevance. At EssenceMediacom, we just want to make some dope shit. We’ve got all this technology and all this AI, but clients are looking at us to understand the platform and how people move between platforms. People today want to not receive advertising, but they also want us to be able to bring them the best soccer, for example. For that, you require advertisers to be able to support this messaging, bring it to primetime, but not interrupt their fan experience. It’s strategists like myself who have to be able to understand that well and then be able to serve that human need.

How do you take into account the ever-changing nature of social platforms?

Perception of Twitter and TikTok has changed a lot in the last year. We are always looking to see where consumers are, and of course we’re very tapped into the marketplace as well as looking at brand safety across the board. You talked about two very different cases across social platforms, but we’ve had this case happen across various social platforms in the U.S. recently. The way we think about it … we are thinking across platforms so that when you are building an omnichannel strategy that is already solving for a change in environment or safety within one platform or the other. It is a network of ideas or an ecosystem of how the brand is messaged so that an outage somewhere can be replaced by other messaging and other connections elsewhere.

How do you take sustainability into account when working with clients in your media buying?

We help clients integrate sustainability into their advertising and marketing strategies by providing guidance on how to reduce their environmental impact, maintain ethical standards, promote social responsibility and report on their sustainability efforts. Additionally, by using GroupM’s Media Decarbonization Framework and Carbon Calculator, our clients can choose to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of their media and advertising activities. This helps our clients to align their sustainability goals with their marketing and advertising strategies and contribute to a more sustainable future. First published on AdAge by Aleda Stam, 19th April 2023.