30 Under 30: Marla Natoli

August 22, 2012  |  Jeromy Lloyd  |  Comments

The future of Canada’s marketing industry will be shaped by its youngest talent—the super-worldly, plugged-in, brilliant and creative youth who are already making a name for themselves. Marketing put out the call to the industry to find the top 30 standouts under the age of 30 who have already made their mark on the industry.

From PR to advertising to media and beyond, our 30 Under 30 showcases the smartest, bravest and most creative ones to watch in the business.

Marla Natoli, 26

Product Manager, Mobile, TorStar Digital

Deborah Hall is so impressed with Marla Natoli, she dragged her across the ocean. Hall, the head of TorStar Digital’s mobile operation, insisted the company find the budget to send the 26-year-old Natoli to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

It was partly a reward: since Natoli joined TorStar in March 2011, she’s increased its revenue by 500% by bringing in new clients and developing new products for them (winning Digital Marketing Awards along the way).

But the trip was also an investment to develop Natoli’s already considerable strategic chops. In her short time TorStar, Natoli has pushed at the boundaries of what’s possible on smartphones and tablets. As mobile project manager, her job requires an eclectic skill set: knowledge of the latest tech, understanding client needs, creative and strategic marketing chops, entrepreneurialism to draw in new clients and strong management skills to coordinate coders with creatives and clients.

Natoli’s management abilities may stem from her education (a B.A. of Management & Organizational Studies from Western), but the rest grew from her tenacity and willingness to learn new skills.

The whole mobile marketing industry as a whole have benefitted from that determination. While most marketers are waiting for the mobile space to stabilize before investing, Natoli is dragging it kicking and screaming into its adolescence. Case in point: an innovative ad unit for Infiniti that let users look around the interior of its JX model without a downloaded app or separate website. The technology took four times as long to roll-out as planned because the ad unit worked in one web browser, but faced weeks of modification to work in every browser.

“Most people wouldn’t have bothered,” Hall says. “It was basically like astrophysics trying to get the thing to work on every different tablet device. She kept going and going. Most of us would wait for the tablet space to mature. But it’s like she was stacking rocks against a wall to get us over the top. It was amazing.”

In the end, the ad was fully functional. Hall reports that consumers engaged with it 40 times longer than the industry average – 11 seconds – for mobile ads. “It inspired us to try more crazy things.”

Be sure to share our 30 Under 30 profiles through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can read the full 30 Under 30 list in the Sept. 10 issue of Marketing magazine.

Photo: Mike Ford

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