David and I exchanged emails for this interview and it has been slightly condensed and edited.
Marc Goldberg: David please tell us about your journey. How did you get your start in the industry?
David Nyurenberg : I started out on the publisher side working at Gameloft, a mobile gaming publisher. Starting out as an intern, my whole job was to play competitor mobile games, see what brands were advertising, and find the representative agencies and respective agency stakeholders and feed those leads to our sales team. It was a fun gig, after which I was promoted to a campaign manager and thus landed my first real job in the advertising industry. And the rest as they say, is history.
After Gameloft, I worked at a couple programmatic managed service vendors where I saw how the sausage was truly made. In these roles, I learned a lot about digital while also being exposed to a darker side of our industry. I then decided to move agency side to apply what I learned in my past roles and ensure that my client’s ad budgets were invested in the best and most value driven ways possible.
The move from a hands on keyboard ad-tech role to an agency planning role is an atypical one in our industry. But it allowed me to mentor the next generation of marketers and empower them to be more savvy in their planning. Teaching them the right questions to ask and places to look to ensure client budgets were spent in ways that drove actual business outcomes. ‘
To this day I look back fondly on my agency days, the friends I made, and personal growth I experienced. After a couple years I decided it was time to apply all the lessons I had learned in my career to date to create a new type of digital partner model. One that worked to empower clients to do better digital themselves through innovative strategies, custom technologies and radical transparency.
MG: Is Valor funded? Are you looking for funding?
DN: Valor is fully bootstrapped and self funded. I was very lucky to have met Rob Webster and Nick King of Canton Marketing Solutions out of the UK very early into my Valor journey. They shared the same mission and ethos that I did and provided me with the team necessary to service my initial clients. Since then I’ve been able to organically grow Valor’s US operations while developing a sister company relationship with Canton.
I can’t say enough amazing things about the Canton team. Together we’re now servicing major brand and agency clients on an international scale. All in a value driven fashion that sets up our clients for long term success, where they remain in full control of their digital advertising, while leaning on us for strategy consultation combined with embedded support across analytics & attribution, campaign management & data engineering.
MG: Data is a focus of Valor. Data is four letter word , that continues to evolve. Can you help explain how you are defining data and data strategies?
DN: For better or worse, the advertising industry has fallen in love with data. Advertising, once seen as an art, has now evolved into a science, with data as its lifeblood. In 2021, we’re seeing brands rush to future proof their data ecosystems for a world where consumers finally realize the full value of their personal data, and governments around the world work to ensure peoples data rights are protected.
For us, successful data strategies are highly dependent on combining a privacy first mentality, where consumers and their data rights are respected, with the correct technologies that meet the brands needs. It is no accident that the companies doing best globally are the ones who have the best customer data programs.The benefits of getting your data ecosystem right are far-reaching.
MG: What are common mistakes that you see advertisers making and that you can help fix around data?
DN: The biggest mistake we see is when marketers view data as a challenge for only their department, when in reality, successful data strategy executions require involvement from operational units across the business including marketing, CRM, website, IT, data, legal and more.
We have now worked with over a dozen companies from large name brands to startups to help them get this right. Money and time spent on building a future proofed data ecosystem will pay itself back many times over now and in the future. Getting company departments to cross collaborate, particularly marketing and technology teams is vital. Most marketing departments need to provide better specifications on their needs. Technology teams need to spend more time understanding the precise end-use points and the right fit of technology and support selected. We have worked hard to develop an offering that helps companies of all sizes deliver excellent customer technology setups and data strategy executions.
MG: Are the data laws around PII moving in the right direction, wrong direction or stuck in sand?
DN: The fact that there are now data laws period is evidence that we’re moving in the right direction. Maybe it’s because I have low expectations or maybe it’s because I believe we’re only now just beginning to emerge from what will be looked back upon as the dark ages of our industry. But digital advertising as we think of it today with it’s personalization and data driven approaches has only been around for less than 20 years.
If you zoom out and look at the big picture, the data abuses that these laws are a reaction to have not gone on for that long of a time. With cookie depreciation on the horizon and Apple’s app tracking transparency set to be rolled out. I look forward to a not too distant future where the pendulum swings back in the direction of advertising being viewed as much of an art as it is a science.
MG: Data is not always user data. Did you know that if you use DCM as your ad server, you’re able to see what websites your programmatic ads are being served on? Oh wait, you did, you posed that question on Linkedin and tagged me! Can you discuss the importance of it?
DN: Well the answer there is pretty simple. At a bare minimum, don’t you want to know what you’re paying for. The answer might be scary, but knowing is better than not knowing. The biggest tragedy of digital is that marketers have been sold this idea that it’s all about the audience. Inventory doesn’t matter because we’re buying audiences here. But for that thinking to work, then we need to assume that all inventory is created equal.
And I would like to think that the digital marketing world by now has woken up to the fact that that just isn’t true. Whether it’s websites with fake bot traffic or domains peddling disinformation or conspiracy theories. Marketers need to care about where their ads are delivering on as there are significant performance and brand safety implications. And I’ll let you in on a little secret Marc.
MG: Ooooh I love secrets!
DN: Leaving those decisions up to automation driven by your name brand, brand safety vendor is not enough to protect you from fraud or brand safety risks.
That’s why I’m a big fan of some of the newer guys out there like MMI (you might have heard of them) that go a step beyond just simple domain reporting and provide actual quality metrics against your site delivery to truly highlight sites that are driving high value business outcomes vs the other guys that bury their domain reporting within their UIs.
MG: Thanks I will pay you later for that plug!
DN: In general I’m excited by the fact that more and more marketers are starting to realize the impact that they and their client’s ad budgets have on the world outside our digital bubble, and are taking the necessary steps to build a more value driven and equitable digital ad ecosystem.
MG: How has quarantine life been for you? Professionally and personally.
DN: Having started Valor basically at the start of the global pandemic in November 2019, professionally, quarantine life is really all I know. I have to acknowledge how privileged and lucky I am to have made it this far given the circumstances. Between my amazing team and advisory board, they have definitely made quarantine a much less lonely affair than it would have been otherwise. That’s not to say it hasn’t been tough and there haven’t been bumps along the road. But I like to think that if I as a business we can make it through this, then we can make it through anything.
Personally, I also got engaged to my amazing soon to be wife Johanna this past November. She is my true investor and without her, none of this would have been possible.
MG: What’s an important lesson you’ve learned over the past year?
DN: The importance of helping people and being happy for the success of others. In a current world where joyful moments can be tough to come by. It is even more important to elevate others and celebrate their victories. Positivity is contagious and the law of attraction is indeed real.