Ancestry’s New CMO Wants to Build a Modern Marketing Machine With His $175 Million Ad Budget

Data will drive campaigns

Ancestry.com has a $175 million marketing budget.
Twitter: ancestry

It’s not every day that an industry executive moves from Johnson & Johnson to a web-based company—not named Facebook, Google or Amazon, that is—but Vineet Mehra sees a manifold opportunity by taking on the role of CMO at Ancestry. Mehra is leaving J&J, where he’s been an exec for more than two years and most recently served as global president of baby care, in the coming days to turn the family genealogy and DNA research digital brand into a “global cultural icon,” he said.

Mehra commented that he’s looking forward to “building a modern marketing machine at scale” with a department that has a $175 million budget. After relying on secondary data from the likes of Nielsen (ratings) and Walmart (sales), the 34-year-old marketer said, he’s looking forward to leveraging Ancestry’s pool of primary data for campaigns.

Vineet Mehra

“Right now the company is largely spending money on TV,” he said, stating that an undisclosed amount of the budget would be moved to multichannel. “Precision and modern marketing at scale—programmatic, social, influencer and mobile—all driven by primary data. We are looking at marketing cloud investments and bringing on an amazing creative agency [of record] to bring this all to life. [All of these things will bolster] how we tell the Ancestry channel across channels.”

As Mehra alluded, one of his first moves as marketing chief will be to select a creative agency of record to complement OMD, Ancestry’s media agency. He said his team will be reviewing agency pitches in the months ahead.

“Think of the possibilities of Ancestry as a brand,” he remarked. “You think about what’s happening in the world today, and the overall rise of nationalism, separating people. When you think about this brand can connect fully us, and by take a point of view in that space—super powerful.”

Mehra made those comments on Friday, before the immigration ban protests were in full swing around the country as citizens responded to President Trump’s executive order. The move banned citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.

At any rate, Mehra replaces outgoing marketing chief Rob Singer—who is now CMO at apps developer Smule—at Ancestry, which competes with 23&Me.com, Navigenics and Pathway in the online family history space.