Q&A with Costanza Ghelfi, Co-Founder and COO at Ad-Machina

Costanza Ghelfi, Co-Founder and COO at Ad-Machina

By R. Larsson, Advertising Week

Can you share what inspired you to start your own businesses and where your passion for digital marketing started?

I’ve spent the majority of my career working in digital marketing roles, including Head of Marketing at Hundredrooms and Acquisition Optimization Manager at EasyJet Holidays. After having worked at an agency in my home country, Italy, I had the opportunity to move to Spain to lead the digital advertising of an international company. While in Spain, I found it was the ideal environment to begin my own ventures.

For the last three years I have been launching and establishing adtech companies, AdMachina and Agua3, which now form part of a global digital acceleration company, Making Science. The vision to start these came about through discussing problems that clients were facing in advertising and deciding to create tech which would solve them. Additionally, I found that wherever I was working, no matter the company or country, we never had enough time. There was always a rush to complete tasks and no room for innovation. How could a group of 15 people working 40 plus hours per week not have sufficient time to get the work done? On reflection, I realised that we weren’t using our time efficiently. The majority of our time was dedicated to repetitive, manual tasks which were not only time consuming, but also boring and providing little added value – the perfect type of task to automate. This is partly why AdMachina exists – to give marketers their creative, innovative and experimental roles back.

What were your key goals for AdMachina when considering service provision to your customers?

When creating AdMachina, my ambition was to build a solution that meant smaller companies wouldn’t need a specialised digital marketing team to reach customers effectively. AdMachina provides technology which complements companies’ knowledge of their landscape and target customers. We started out working in the travel industry; a reason for founding the company was the prevalence of big companies in the travel industry specifically. Without access to advanced technology, local companies were unable to compete with the giants. Our mission is to ensure good marketing is available to everyone, and to educate businesses on how to best advertise their products to reach the right audience – the technology does the rest.

Now, we work with a wide variety of clients, ranging from universities to luxury fashion brands. We’ve recently been seeing that many big brands want to escape from obvious price comparison, on Google shopping, for example – AdMachina allows brands to tell more of their story, and send the intended messages to their audience directly.

AdMachina was recently acquired by Making Science, how did you manage your team through the process and what challenges or benefits have you observed?

Since AdMachina joined the Making Science family in September 2021, we’ve experienced exponential growth. This isn’t surprising, given Making Science’s presence in 13 markets! Making Science is a digital acceleration company, specialising in digital advertising, data analytics, e-commerce, and cloud. Working with them allows us to access its extensive data expertise and a team of experts to provide our clients with a unique offering in the market. Although slightly overwhelming at first, our team quickly became accustomed to the partnership, seeing how the collaboration benefited both the business and their own working experience.

What are your expectations of the future of advertising and how has this moulded your work? What advice would you give readers to prepare and consider?

Looking forward, I expect Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to be increasingly adopted in advertising. The use of AI allows advertisers to deliver highly targeted and personalised content to consumers on a large scale, without having to do the heavy lifting themselves. AI, combined with the use of a natural language generation tool, truly ties a search engine marketing campaign together. The advantages are significant. We utilise this technology at AdMachina to increase consumer engagement. With the loss of third-party identifiers looming in the near future, finding a way to continue effectively engaging consumers is of utmost importance for all advertisers.

How do you manage a work-life balance as a founder and what techniques have you discovered to overcome time management challenges?

Moving to Mallorca in Spain allowed me to find a quieter life where I could reach my career goals without compromising my work-life balance. In Mallorca, I found a place where I was able to work in digital marketing, but in a calmer location than Milan, where I had previously lived. It’s not to say that poor work-life balance is only a problem in Milan – that is not the case of course, and I love my home country Italy! However, I find that most big cities have a pressurising business culture. For that reason, I wanted to achieve my work goals outside of this environment, and I felt that the place where I chose to live and set-up my business offered me an improved balance to also achieve my personal goals.

More specifically in relation to time management, I like to use a technique called ‘delegACTION’ – this method teaches you how to delegate tasks in an efficient way. First, you must explain to the person you are delegating work to, why the task is important for the company from a wider perspective. Second, you should provide clear expectations of the output you expect, as well as informing the person what level of authority they have on the project. Next comes arranging mid-way and final checks with the person to feed back transparently on their work. Lastly and most importantly – celebrating the results! Having used the method many times, I see how key it is for growth and I request the whole team to apply the process.