CRYSTAL EASTMAN
Head of Global Marketing

How The Trade Desk’s Crystal Eastman Fosters Curiosity and ‘Joyful Experimentation’

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has brought on seismic changes in our industry, but Crystal Eastman is more than up for the challenge. Having spent most of her career in financial services—working for brands like American Express and BlackRock—Crystal took the adtech world head-on as the go-to-market strategy lead for The Trade Desk. Here, Crystal shares why this as a time to explore digital innovation that marketers used to only dream about, what she’s learned from jobs that others wouldn’t take on, and how she ensures her team feels safe enough to take risks.

How did you get to where you are today? Any noteworthy aha-moments or key learnings along the way?

The world of marketing is continuously evolving, and you cannot keep pace if you do not keep challenging yourself. I’m endlessly motivated by the exceptional work of my peers and I’ve used every job move to chase new skills in tandem with emerging trends. In doing so, I’ve also taken many “high-risk” jobs that other marketers wouldn’t. I’ve worked on products that never launched, businesses that failed, and campaigns that got canceled at the last minute. But I’ve grown so much from these experiences and these experiences have helped ready me for the challenges of my current role, leading global marketing for a true hypergrowth company.

What’s currently happening in marketing that most excites you and how is it changing the future of the industry? 

“Personalization at scale will be the new path forward for the industry. I wanted to be a part of it.”

The accelerated innovation happening in marketing is what brought me to this job. The digitization of media and ever more personalized style of on-demand media consumption has led to precision data-driven opportunities that were never possible. Personalization at scale will be the new path forward for the industry. I wanted to be a part of it. We, marketers, can finally do things we used to dream about, whether it’s connecting with consumers with precision across devices, true frequency capping, or measuring offline sales lift from online campaigns–it’s a whole new world.

How have you adjusted your strategies amid the pandemic and what's one thing your team has learned during this time?

I started here at The Trade Desk during the pandemic so this strategy has been the only one I’ve known! One of the benefits of being a hypergrowth company is that we have to shift and reallocate our plans often–almost every quarter. So, the pandemic was just another shift for us and our teams. We had to be conscious of the images and messages being put out when the outbreak first started, including early in the year in our APAC region when they first experienced the pandemic.

What innovative work are you focused on now?  

As a company, we’re on the forefront of innovating how digital media is purchased and measured. We’re creating new tools on Identity, CTV, artificial intelligence and others nearly every week. …  [Also] the vision our co-founders have for the future of Identity… is going to change the way that advertisers, publishers and consumers interact across the open internet.

How do you encourage a test-and-learn mindset amongst your team?

“I try to keep the process of experimentation joyful… to make sure the team feels safe to take risks.”

It’s important to me that our team stays culturally curious to their surroundings–in and out of work–and provide room to test out new ideas. I try to keep the process of experimentation joyful; celebrating epic losses and much as big wins to make sure the team feels safe to take risks. Regardless of whether each individual experiment has a commercially successful outcome, we learn something and are always improving our game.

What do you see as the most valuable marketing skills needed today and moving forward?

For me, intellectual curiosity and design thinking are at the core of all great marketing. When you look back 10 or 15 years ago, much of the technology we rely heavily on today was non-existent. Each next “big thing” changes everything…and we as marketers have to proactively embrace the change head on. That is what drew me to my role at The Trade Desk: I wanted to lead the change, not follow it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

When you do what you love, it never feels like work. I feel so fortunate to have found my way to the best job in the world.