Getting to Know Ross McNab, Cardlytics’ President of North America Advertising
Ross McNab joined Cardlytics on October 1 from MediaMath. I sat down with him to learn more about why he chose Cardlytics, what he’s been up to during his first few months, and what plans he has in store for 2020.
Welcome to Cardlytics! Tell us a bit more about what brought you here.
ROSS: Thanks! Happy to be here. When I made the decision to leave MediaMath, I outlined a list of criteria that I felt was important for my next opportunity. The first category was Does the Company Matter, and the good news was that for Cardlytics, the answer quickly became “yes!” as I got to know the people and understand the value proposition. The second category was Are They in a Growth Market, and again, the answer to that was “yes, absolutely.” There is more money flowing into media and digital than ever before. The third category was Business State. I wanted to join a company that was winning, and Cardlytics is absolutely winning with immense opportunity. The fourth category was Leadership Group. It was quickly apparent that the leadership team here is extremely high caliber. The final category was Role in Organization, and Cardlytics scored high in this area as well. Cardlytics was hands down the best experience that I had when interviewing, and that also helped set it apart from the other companies I was talking to at the time.
What did you do before you joined Cardlytics?
ROSS: After I moved to Sydney from my hometown of Perth, Australia, I started working for an AdTech company called MediaMind. I ran the APAC team in Hong Kong for a year, and then was moved to New York. Eventually, I moved back to Sydney and started my own business (Kinected) which acted as an AdTech launch vehicle for multiple AdTech technologies into the APAC marketplace. I came back to New York in 2014 and sold that business to a company called MediaMath, which is where I’ve been for the past five years.
You started on October 1. How have the first few months been?
ROSS: Truthfully, I feel like I’ve been going to school. It’s been quite a learning experience! When I joined MediaMath, I had a long-standing relationship with them, so I knew the business very well and I knew many of the decision-makers there. Since I did have my own company at one point, I’ve worked in almost every role – I’ve done operations, I’ve done account management, I’ve done analytics, I’ve done sales, and I’ve done HR. I’ve even overseen the kitchen ordering. Needless to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve taken on a new role at a completely new company, and it has been a big learning experience. I’m getting to learn a lot about the Atlanta scene, too, which has been quite an experience.
You’ve been in Atlanta quite a bit lately. Are you planning to stay in New York?
ROSS: Yes, I will be based in New York. New York is important to the business because it’s the center of the advertising universe. It’s appropriate that a company of our stature and potential has an executive presence there, and we already have a great team in the city. It’s a team that we will certainly want to invest in and rally around. In fact, we’re already outgrowing our office and are looking to move into a larger space. That has all happened over the course of two months. However, I know that early on my physical presence in the Atlanta office will be very important so that I can build credibility with the team. So, I’ll be in Atlanta a lot, too.
What have you learned about Cardlytics since you started?
ROSS: The main learning is that yes, we matter. And put simply, our clients are better off because we exist, and that is really cool. That is not normal. Most businesses address a certain part of the market and they add some value, and they do it maybe 5 to 10 percent differently than everyone else. But we really matter, and we make a positive impact on our clients. And the best part is that we can prove it with our data.
The other neat part about our platform is that it’s incredibly defensible. It is almost impossible to replicate the unique relationships that we have created with our financial institutions. We need to be continuously proud of that.
I’ve also learned that there’s still phenomenal opportunity, and I don’t think a single person who works for Cardlytics would disagree. There are opportunities to expand, explore new revenue streams, target new customer segments, and to introduce automation in the business. To put it in a one-liner, I don’t think we came this far to come this far. There is still a long road filled with opportunity ahead.
What’s on deck as we begin 2020?
ROSS: If these first few months have been a learning experience, the next few months will be me embracing our motto and Getting Shit Done. I’ll be shifting my focus to what we need to do as a business to capitalize on our many opportunities for growth and the amazing foundation that has been built over the last 10 years.
I see this time period as a great opportunity to realign, step back, and decide who we can do great work for. What are the types of clients that we could do our best work for? What do they look like today? How do we find more like that? How do we encourage and repeat the great things that are going on?
We need to put the client at the center. Just like any business that has grown up over 10 years, we have evolved, and we have certain ways that we do things because that’s how we’ve had to do them. Right now, we have an interesting opportunity to step back and make sure we are putting the client in the center.
I’ll also be focusing on the organization of my team. What’s the right team structure? What are the right roles for those teams? What are the right definitions of those roles? How do we help the people who are already very successful in their roles keep growing? How do we augment those roles with new talent coming in? What things need to change in order to replicate the success we’ve had? We need to decide who we exist to do great work for by looking at who we already do great work for. There is a lot I will be thinking about as we enter the new year, and I’m excited for the positive change and the success that lies ahead.
Ross McNab joined Cardlytics as President, North America Advertising from MediaMath, an independent programmatic company for marketers. While there, he tripled the company’s revenue from leading marketers by forging strategic improvements to commercial strategy as their North America Managing Director. In his role at Cardlytics, McNab has joined the executive leadership team, and will lead the North America advertising team to drive continued revenue growth for the company.
A native of Australia, McNab co-founded Kinected in Sydney, Australia in 2012, which would eventually be acquired by MediaMath. Prior to its purchase, Kinected operated ad technologies in Australia, New Zealand, and the wider APAC region. As Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, McNab oversaw sales, client service, finance, and HR. Prior to Kinected, McNab was the Director of Global Business Development at MediaMind, where he incubated a managed-service demand-side platform offered in North America, EMEA, and APAC.