Future of Media Q&A
NYIAX’s Original Interview Series with Industry Transformers
Noah Tratt is the Global Senior VP for Expedia Group’s Regional Brands. Tratt leads all strategy, product, retail and marketing efforts for Travelocity, Orbitz, and CheapTickets in North America, ebookers and MrJet in Europe and Wotif and lastminute.com.au in Australia/New Zealand. Directing a global team located across seven cities on three continents, Noah is focused on driving each brand to be leaders within their respective markets.
Where did your career begin?
My career began at age 13 because I grew up in a resort town and was fortunate enough that the local small business people needed as much help in the summertime as they could get. That meant that I was able to start working in tourism and travel at a very young age even if the work didn’t start out with a ton of glamour. Eventually that led me to decide I would be happier doing something entrepreneurial and I started my own business (making t-shirts and other apparel) in high school which gave me experience in sales, finance and general management.
What media trends do you see?
There’s so much happening in media and because of the dynamic nature of the industry I am heavily reliant on others to keep me up to speed. One trend I think a lot about is media measurement. We are so accountable as leaders for justifying every penny we spend partially due to the inherent promise of “digital marketing” and yet this is a field that is historically heavily qualitative while at the same time the complexity of the ecosystem and consumer options create a scenario that’s very hard to rationalize sometimes. Despite this there’s a ton going on in the space that I am really excited about.
How has your role changed over the years?
I have been at Expedia for seventeen years which many people think is pretty unusual but one of the things that has kept me at the company and really engaged has been the fact that they are a company that loves to promote people internally and to give folks roles that are big stretches. So for me I have been lucky enough to work in consumer marketing, business to business marketing, business development, product and technology, operations and sales. It’s been a consistently fun set of challenges and has pushed me to adapt and learn.
Does embracing the future of media and the new opportunities require a new kind of media professional?
I think the future of everything requires a set of skills that is not always well understood or valued. It’s not just the obvious “adaptability” skill but it’s also an ability to manage ambiguity and to take responsibility for your own learning. Very few institutions do a great job of training up their people to prepare them for change but I do think with the IAB taking on training as a core part of their mission we are better poised for success in this regard than a lot of other places in tech and industry and general.
Regarding Blockchain, do you have an opinion on how it and other transformational technologies will advance media?
The core promise of blockchain is creating trust in a transaction between unrelated/unfamiliar parties. To the extent that blockchain can do that in the advertising space I think it’s a game changer in creating the kind of frictionless marketplace that is critical to our ability as marketers to move more quickly in testing and learning. If I look at how we spend our time today after we’ve decided to work with a new partner there’s a ton of friction. NDAs, commercial contract negotiations, test set up, interim test measurement. All of these things take a ton of time and are fraught with error and inherent mistrust. Are these guys taking advantage of me as an advertiser? Blockchain implemented effectively in a marketplace could streamline a ton of this time and resource expenditure and allow me to get my answers quickly and allow me as a marketer to focus on optimization and scale vs. the bureaucratic investments required today.
Do you agree that we are facing a crisis of trust in the marketplace and, if so, how can we re-establish it?
Many of the institutions people have taken for granted are now subject to a greater degree of scrutiny whether in the public, religious or private sectors so why would advertising be any different? I think blockchain has the opportunity to bridge this gap but I also think advertisers need to pick their partners carefully. Partners who treat you with transparency and respect still exist and they’re worth investing in.
What else would you like us to know?
Advertising is among the most interesting and fun areas of business today. It’s innovative, creative and hits on the big strategic themes that underpin the difference between success and failure for most businesses.