On Thursday I had the privilege of speaking to the MSCO 380-02 Digital Strategy class at Pepperdine University. The class is taught by my friend Barry Yudess, and I had the opportunity to meet Ginger Rosenkrans, the department chair, PhD, and published researcher of digital marketing and advertising technology.
I chose to cover three main topics which I’ll discuss below. The students in the room were advertising majors and integrated communications majors who appeared incredibly enthusiastic for the opportunities that are waiting for them upon graduation. One student is a model, a few are creating ecommerce stores, and some are excited to get into the advertising business upon graduation. Congrats to Pepperdine, Ginger, and Barry for training such a dynamic group of rising talent.
- There is always change in the advertising business, so to level up as an employee go deep on one of those moments of change
- Programmatic and digital advertising create unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs to create businesses, reach consumers, and live lives that earlier generations of students could only dream of.
- The best shot one has at becoming an entrepreneur is the ability to merge technical mastery and the ability to sell.
Advertising in 2004 was so different than advertising is today, and the key differences come from data, automation, and the programmatic opportunity. Every 3-4 years, when a new platform developed there was an way to get promoted, take on more leadership, and create more interesting corporate roles. The ones that stand out for me are:
2004 – Social Media 1.0
- The ascension of MySpace
- Preceded by Friendster
- Accompanied by multiple mostly departed social platforms like
2007 – The Rise of Facebook
Facebook opened to the public in 2006, became a force for advertisers into 2007, and overtook MySpace for social media dominance around 2010. By the 2010s MySpace was declining and Facebook owned the decade for social media.2009 – The Rise of Mobile
For about four years at conferences there was talk of “this year is the year of mobile” related to ad spend, content development, and marketing opportunities. In retrospect there wasn’t one year that popped, but all of a sudden we were living in a mobile world. This became real to me in 2009.
2010 – The Rise of Ad Exchanges and the Programmatic Advertising Ecosystem
This is when prospective clients were asking how we buy ad inventory. There was major change, and ad exchanges became real. This ecosystem eventually turned into programmatic ad buying.
2013 – Influencer Marketing
This is when the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and YouTube became the place for creators to connect with audience through brand integrations. From my recollection influencer marketing existed as early as 2011, but it became a conversation topic in larger circles around this time.
2015 – Hyperlocal Advertising
I based the branding positioning for BrillMedia.co on hyperlocal advertising. Basis, The Trade Desk, Factual and MediaMath started making location based advertising a real opportunity with platform integrations.
The takeaway is that each point can be identified early as a trend, and rising talent can choose to focus on these new developments to become a subject matter expert. I chose to go all in on programmatic in 2010, and this very business is a culmination of that accumulated expertise.
The programmatic opportunity changes how advertisers and marketers connect. When I started buying ads in 2004 there was a lot of human to human contact for the ad buying process. It was great for steak dinners, going to Mastro’s, creating friendships, and learning from more tenured industry executives. There was a lot of exposure to really smart people. There was collaboration between executives at agencies and publishers.
The opportunity with programmatic was fundamentally the ability to exchange value for ad inventory infinitely faster than doing it the old way. This real time bidding system was great for agencies. Agencies had the ability to do with 5 people what it took maybe 15 people to do in the past. This labor efficiency created opportunities for executives to create new roles for themselves as needs changed at the agency and at publisher sales organizations.
Today, the trading desk company model that exists with BrillMedia.co could not exist with our current staff if the programmatic ecosystem hadn’t evolved. And, as a result of my early step into this ecosystem, the expertise and relationships that have been built have created valuable opportunities.
Communicating To Create Sales
For business owners starting out you have access to the greatest communications tools of our time. As Professor Rosenkranz and I discussed before I spoke to the class, knowing how to use a consumer tool is very different than learning how to use it for professionally. In fact, posting on social media can be great to drive followers, but are those followers buying? If you want them to buy the work of communicating to convert is a very different process than simply posting on social media.
Technical Mastery + Sales Mastery
I spent six years of my life learning the advertising business from 2003 to 2009. I then spent two years leading a team of expert ad buyers from 2009 to 2011. Then I spent 2011 to 2020, nine years, and counting, focusing most of my efforts on programmatic ad buying with some detours into influencer marketing. In addition to the technical master of ad buying and programmatic advertising, I learned to inspire and motivate a sale starting around 2015, for the last five years.
For aspiring entrepreneurs it’s important to have technical mastery combined with sales mastery. If you have technical mastery you have a great opportunity to rise into senior roles in your field of choice. If you also know how to get people to buy your product you have a massive opportunity to create a sustainable business.
Thank you Barry Yudess, Ginger Rosenkranz and the MSCO 380-02 Digital Strategy for the honor of sharing with you some of the highlights and learnings from my advertising career!