Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Vanessa Goff-Yu on why you shouldn’t be afraid to be outside the box

NDA’s Digital Women series is talking to leaders from across our industry to understand the particular issues faced by women. Next up is Vanessa Goff-Yu, Marketing & Comms Director at TAG

What is the biggest opportunity for women in your sector of the digital industry today?

To not be afraid to be outside of the box (not just stepping outside of the box, actually exist outside of the box) and embrace all the wonderfulness that comes with it. This approach has exposed me to so many mind-blowingly incredible moments in my career and has shaped the way I think about projects, where I get inspiration from, how and what content I consume and how I can become a better team member and leader. 

For example, MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – I’m a huge fan and I’ve watched the films in Phase 1-3 (also known as the Infinity Saga) in chronological order about 5 times. How is this relevant to my work in digital advertising? If I was thinking specifically about marketing channels, the Infinity Sage has been a source of reference/inspiration for design, content creation, social channel usage, events, influencer/celebrity marketing, PR and more. From a broader perspective, the 23-film collection is a masterclass on the big payoff you can achieve by setting a long-term goal as the primary objective. So many businesses focus on the short-term and the quick wins and generally don’t have the patience to wait (amongst other things) for the enormous reward a long-term goal can deliver. The saga is also a fantastic example of having a healthy mixture of tactics to achieve the primary objective; having realistic short-term goals, hiring the right teams, creating the space for boundless imagination and creativity, and trusting in the team’s expertise. 

What support structures and organisations are most important and effective to you as a woman in the digital industry?

Women’s health and mental health are big ones for me. 

Mental health side, as a society, we’ve become better at recognising signs of mental strain or injury and we’re better at talking and working through the injuries but there’s always room for improvement. Not all businesses can offer health insurance as an employee benefit, but I think having a mental health policy and resources should be standard. 

Women’s health – I can go on and on and on about this. Fundamentally, there should be more talk, accessible resources, information, company support and general awareness of women’s health. When I was at school, I was taught virtually nothing about having a period or being aware of any safety markers i.e.what happens during a period, symptoms you might get, how long they last, products you can use, how painful they can be, when you should go see a doctor etc.

I’m lucky enough to be a part of the Digital Leading Ladies group that has a subset on women’s health. I was also part of a netball club, KCLA Netball and we constantly talked about women’s health (as well as our ‘challenges’ with oppositions and umpires…). Both have been a huge source of information in finding out about perimenopause, menopause, endometriosis and other gynaecological illness we face as a woman. 

What have been the biggest challenges, and opportunities for digital advertising this year?

Digital advertising has always been great at pivoting and finding a solution at the drop of a hat. Take COVID for instance, marketing budgets were slashed for fear of uncertainty but as we started to navigate through the pandemic waters, we saw innovation and creativity in abundance. For example, advertisers dipping their toes in gaming, led to Wendy’s in Fortnite, KFC and the KFC Console, the Biden/Harris Campaign in Animal Crossing, Unilever/Sunsilk in Roblox and more. 

I think the biggest challenge for 2023 is to continue the momentum of innovation and creativity we had during the pandemic in digital, but I also see this as our biggest opportunity.

What is your biggest achievement in digital to date?

Sitting on my very first all-female panel about gaming Melissa Blaha and Polina Changuleva at Finecast’s TV Innovation Summit was pretty major. Talking about Gaming and the Metaverse with VCCP alongside Adverty and Festival of Media/GameFace at Cannes was another one. Developing and delivering TAG’s first Evolution Sessions in Malvertising and CTV Fraud in the US was another milestone of mine (Brand Safety is happening this year in London!). Contributing to IAB UK’s first Guide to Gaming as well. 

However, the biggest achievement for me is being exposed to so many different areas within digital advertising. From DSP evolution to brand safety concerns, to cyber security measures in digital media, to advertisers in gaming, to esports, to metaverse and even the multiverse! Continuing to learn and develop is a huge work motivator of mine, so I’m grateful to be in a position, where my work allows me to keep being exposed to all these conversations.

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