Advertising is a necessity for almost every business, and ad spending in the digital advertising market could reach $355,784 million this year. The challenge is, many companies are flushing hard-earned dollars down the advertising drain without getting commensurate value.

We reached out to Veda Dean, a Mauritius-based digital entrepreneur and female entrepreneurship champion, to discuss the best advertising practices through technological innovation. Veda shared essential tricks and tips on how to ensure a higher return on ad spend, the interplay of AI and Adtech, customer engagement best practices, the future of Tik Tok, and more.

Veda Dean is a Mauritius-based digital entrepreneur and female entrepreneurship champion

Please tell us about yourself and your career journey.

I am 27 years old, and I am the co-founder and COO (the Panda) of Panda & Wolf Holding, a startup that I bootstrapped with my then other half (‘the Wolf’) and now husband, Brian Dean. I was born and raised in Solapur, a developing Village in India, and settled in Mauritius in 2017. I am a self-taught polyglot. And despite my ethnicity and origins, I was awarded the ‘Female Role Model of the Year 2019’ for the Southern Africa Region, Women in Tech Africa Winner for bringing innovation to the local front in Mauritius, and Digital Women Award for embracing technology for good.

The number one skill of a modern business owner is to craft the narrative. And Adtech gives startup owners access to a large stream of digital tools, channels, and data. How can advertisers fully harness these tools to generate sales-qualified leads and amplify their connection with consumers?

With technology, the concept of “lead generation” that did not exist a few years ago has become prominent. During the traditional years of advertising, the emphasis was more on delivering the information, and whether the consumers interacted with your traditional print media or not wasn’t a priority. Digitalization has made advertising more engaging so much that you can track your consumer’s behaviors and then use this data to adapt your strategies.

To many organizations, generating SQLs is one of the biggest challenges. But, with the right data, you can manage how your consumers engage with your ad, instead of just targeting information. Depending on the company’s strategies and approach, one of the fundamental processes that advertisers can carry out is interactive advertising through social media.

Interactive ads invite consumers to engage with the ad in an enticing way, turning traditional ads into an activity. They are a brilliant way for marketers to engage with consumers, encouraging them to act, not passively view an ad, or ignore it altogether.

From leads to sales: the path can be clear if you know how to go about it

The first step to optimizing customer service is to meet prospective clients where they are. And nowadays, that becomes social media. What is your guide for ensuring a higher return on ad spend (ROAS)?

Focus on targeting (and re-targeting!). Often marketers make a mistake while using demographics. They are essential, but it’s more important to target your advertising. For instance, if you own a coffee shop in Ghana, don’t pay to target South African people. Instead, focus on your audience’s interests, favorite brands, and behavior.

Among other steps would be to run dynamic ads and get granular with your data. With the volume of information dispersed through digital mediums, your communication will make you stand out. Communicating your brand story plays a vital role in acquiring better ROAS.

With the resurgence in podcasting, the widespread use of virtual assistants, and the recent deployment of voice messaging by Twitter, many think that voice search is the future. What are your views on voice-first as the next frontier for advertisers?

Voice advertising is ushering the new era of customer engagement. Although this ecosystem is nascent, given the velocity at which this revolution is moving, the first thing we must understand is how, where, and why the customers are using voice. This way, you can deliver a personalized and equable experience to customers when they need it the most.

The brands that experiment with how voice can improve people’s lives will be ahead of their competitors. VoiceTech is the apparent bet marketers worldwide are making on the voice channel. Yet this is by far the most vulnerable spot because brands haven’t yet embraced voice advertising. Voice is the future of marketing. Brands that want to see long-term gains in the future must begin investing in voice technology today.

Say this is 2025 and 5G and AI technology adoption is at its peak, do you think AdTech and marketing technologies will kill advertising agencies? If yes, what will be your advice to someone in that line of business?

AdTech brings enormous opportunities. But that is if agencies embrace it and move swiftly enough to adopt them before clients become impatient and move on. In today’s complexity, the word ‘advertising agency/ad agency’ is no longer relevant.

If your company provides solutions to persuade clients, then you are both an advertising and marketing company. So, AdTech becomes a part of your planning. For instance, at Panda and Wolf, we have used gamification principles to link Education, Call to Action, and Data Tracking through our award-winning project – Eco-Warriors.

Eco-Warriors is one of Panda & Wolf's award-winning gamification experiments

But, what WILL kill the advertising agency is their fixation on traditional programmatic media. Agencies need to look beyond these fixated channels and start thinking of solving problems such as data collection (and protection), tracking, reporting, and data analysis. And other such emerging concepts in the AdTech field.

Share your views on customer experience management and the future of Tik Tok (which has just been banned by the US government).

The best marketing that money can buy is a customer who will promote your business for you. Whoever is loyal to your company, promotes your business through word-of-mouth marketing, and advocates for your brand and service. Today customers have the power. And we gave them that power through the rise of technology.

It’s crucial to manage your customer experience. You learn a whole lot about your own brand and company from your customers. Simply put, you will always remember a fun time you had at an event or a great experience at a restaurant you tried for the first time, compared to a poor experience.

On Tik Tok: whether serious or silly, the app has become an outlet for expression, unlike any app before it. It’s an entertainment powerhouse and might continue to grow as it allows various kinds of people to be creative. The many modes of using it give it a long term potential, especially because of the ‘60 second limit’ that instills the psychology of urgency.

If you missed the previous installments of this interview series, find them here. To participate in a subsequent edition, send me an email at