Media can no longer be put into a box. Brands are asking agencies for more guidance than ever as they try to navigate consumer privacy, personalization, heaps of data and more. This year’s Media All-Stars offer not only expertise in their respective fields, but also the innovative thinking needed to usher clients into a future that remains uncertain. Our Executive of the Year, Lynn Lewis, recently led a winning streak for UM (including Adweek’s U.S. Media Agency of the Year in February) while making the agency’s leadership team more diverse. Rising Stars Arafel Buzan and James Kelly are helping Mindshare’s clients use neuroscience to uncover useful, and often surprising, media insights. This year’s class of Media All-Stars will no doubt face countless unforeseen challenges in the year ahead, but each has proven he or she is ready to tackle whatever comes his or her way. —Minda Smiley
Media Executive of the Year: Lynn Lewis
At the end of 2018, UM veteran Lewis was promoted to U.S. CEO. A little over a year later, she is helping the agency navigate the type of challenge no one could have seen coming. “This is where the power of UM and its incredible people are at our best,” Lewis says, adding that a UM culture built around core values such as caring, community and candor allows it to navigate the coronavirus crisis.
“We started exactly where we should start,” she says. “The first thing that we did was make sure our people were safe, our clients were safe. We did everything we could do from a community standpoint.” She says the agency shifted to work from home “really fast from a U.S. perspective,” encouraging all UM employees to do so as of the afternoon of Thursday, March 12, after IPG implemented optional work from home as a policy.
UM, which took home Adweek’s U.S. Media Agency of the Year in February, is also issuing intelligence reports to clients to help them understand the situation and how it impacts them—part of UM’s mindset of helping clients “future-proof” their business.
“We have clients in some sectors where advertising might not be appropriate from a messaging perspective,” she says, while there are others “in the healthcare space or pharma space, and we’re helping them to make sure their messaging is out there and in front of consumers in the most impactful, accessible way.” UM is also working with the Ad Council and Amobee in conjunction with the CDC and WHO to get appropriate PSAs to consumers.
After taking over as U.S. CEO, Lewis led UM to a series of new business wins throughout 2019, without a single loss. That winning streak remained until early this year, when McCormick concluded a review by sending its account from UM to 360i.
While noting that incumbents rarely come out on top in reviews, Lewis stresses that UM takes such moves seriously and does all it can to understand why clients make the decision to switch. She leads UM’s Client Leadership Council, for example, which includes a number of initiatives for sharing best practices across accounts. “Learning from [setbacks] is an important part of our model,” she says. “We don’t shy away from disruption. We absolutely lean into it.”
Lewis began her career on the creative side at McCann Erickson, only moving to the media side of the business (and UM) when the agency unbundled creative and media. She soon found herself working for some of UM’s biggest clients, eventually leading dedicated units for Johnson & Johnson and then Coca-Cola.
“In each engagement, my focus has been on identifying the white space. What are the needs of our clients? We need to make sure that we are supporting them, innovating and creating in order to help them with their business needs, their business challenges and their business opportunities,” she says.
Among the changes she has implemented at UM was naming Deidre Smalls-Landau as U.S. chief marketing officer and tasking her with leading Unity 2040, an initiative that aims to increase diverse representation at UM with the goal of aligning with demographic projections of the U.S. in 2040.
Lewis says she’s proud of being part of an organization with leaders like UM global CEO Eileen Kiernan, IPG CEO Michael Roth and former UM U.S. CEO Daryl Lee, who have promoted women leaders within the organization, including to CEO positions for its top markets.
She says she views it as her responsibility to continue to promote diversity, beyond gender, something she says was “critically important” in developing her U.S. leadership team, and claims she made it three times as diverse as it was previously. In addition to identifying the best person, “I was just making sure that I was seeing the broadest slate of people,” she says.
Outside of UM, Lewis is actively involved with She Runs It, the Ad Council and the American Advertising Federation. In her previous role as CMO, she also launched UM’s corporate social responsibility initiative, Better World.
She anticipates that the agency will take away many lessons from the unprecedented disruption presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have no doubt that this will absolutely inform and change the way we work in a good way,” Lewis says, “both in our responsibility to creating a better world regarding climate and being thoughtful about our people’s time and how they use it. I think coming out of this, what will happen is we will use technology in a smarter, more thoughtful and efficient way in how we do business.” —Erik Oster
Rising Stars: Arafel Buzan and James Kelly
With backgrounds in science and economics, Buzan and Kelly aren’t the typical 20-somethings you’ll find working within the walls of an agency. Neither majored in marketing, went to ad schools or nabbed internships at the most sought-after agencies, but both are proving that the unique expertise they bring to the table is increasingly becoming a valuable asset for Mindshare’s clients.
The pair runs the agency’s NeuroLab, an offering Mindshare debuted last year that uses neuroscience to help brands determine how to better connect and engage with consumers. For instance, the NeuroLab uses electroencephalogram (EEG) tests, which measure changes in electrical activity in different parts of the brain, to gauge how an individual is reacting to a particular piece of content.
“The NeuroLab is able to quantify things like memory and emotion so we can better plan and think about media for our clients,” Buzan says. “When we were in the process of creating the lab, we were able to talk to a lot of current client teams about different opportunities or challenges that they were facing. We structured the lab around those kinds of client needs.”
Buzan and Kelly come from divergent but complementary backgrounds: Buzan studied neuroscience and musicology in college, while Kelly focused on behavioral science and economics. Together, their skill sets provide clients with new ways of evaluating how effective their advertising is or could be.
The NeuroLab has already helped Mindshare bring in new business. Case in point: The lab recently used its capabilities to assess a potential client’s emotional targeting strategy. Considering the brand wanted its ads to evoke joy in consumers, Buzan and Kelly measured emotions in various media environments to see which ones were most likely to lead to a joyful response.
They found that the group watching something scary before seeing the brand’s ads experienced joy at the highest rate, leading the brand to an interesting insight that could inform its media strategy. In turn, Mindshare ultimately won the pitch.
With skills that could apply to any number of industries, why did the two choose advertising? For Buzan, it gives her the chance to apply scientific knowledge to a field that’s rooted in emotion.
“It’s a really interesting, artful way to study something that can seem so academic,” she says.
Kelly, too, enjoys the human element of the NeuroLab’s work.
“I’ve always been extremely interested in human decision-making,” he says. “I feel like advertising is a really good place to study that. You can take a lot of time to think about why people choose the paths they choose.” —Minda Smiley
Challis helms one of the largest teams of its kind in advertising, with his primary responsibility being to ensure media thinking is harnessed early on in the creative process in order to “help inspire the most creative and effective work in the industry.”
In addition to guiding a team of 30 communications strategists, he also works as strategic lead for new business efforts and develops new capabilities both locally and globally. He’s particularly proud of helping lead Droga5 in being named AOR for Harley-Davidson last year.
“There are few more iconic American brands than Harley-Davidson, and being invited to shape the brand, experience and communications of H-D to make riding matter by appealing to a new generation of riders was a huge opportunity,” he says, adding that he got so deep into working on the brand that he now harbors dreams of buying an old bike and riding Route 66.
Before joining Droga5, Challis spent over a decade at MediaCom, working across the GroupM agency’s New York, London and Sydney offices. While at MediaCom’s New York office, he served as global strategy director, leading strategy for Dell’s consumer and small-business accounts across all regions and markets. Prior to that, Challis spent five years at MediaCom Sydney, where he held numerous planning roles and was named runner-up in Australia’s Cannes Young Lions.
Challis says that the next big frontier for media is bringing strategic thinking and creativity to personalization. “With so much data at our fingertips,” he says, “the opportunity to truly listen to people and personalize their experience across all touch points through the lens of the brand is the biggest opportunity for the industry.” —E.O.
Jennifer Decrescenzo Valentine
Decrescenzo Valentine leads strategic media planning and implementation for Popeyes—which means that, outside of the standard yearly planning cycle, she leads cross-team initiatives and strategic insights for a client that went viral in a huge way this past summer with the introduction of its new chicken sandwich.
“As the QSR category is fast paced, no one day is the same and can run the gamut from identifying and understanding competitive threats to strategic brand challenges, providing POVs on new media opportunities and understanding evolving consumer behaviors to ensure everything we put forth drives business impact,” says Decrescenzo Valentine, who claims agency leadership has led to organic, double-digit internal revenue growth.
Decrescenzo Valentine didn’t begin her career in media. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BFA in advertising design, she worked as a freelance art director and graphic designer but was unable to find anything steady. After settling in at Horizon Media as a financial assistant working in the client account group for local broadcast billing, she gained an understanding of the role strategic media planning played in advertising and decided to officially make the leap from creative to media, applying for a role as an assistant media planner.
She says the most rewarding part of her job is tackling especially difficult questions and projects and “the feeling of not knowing where to start and then strategizing with my team to identify the answer or creative solution.”
The biggest challenge for media agencies, she says, is media fragmentation. “Consumers are in full control,” she says, “and we as marketers must become smarter and more creative in thinking about how we reach and specifically speak to them as individuals.” —E.O.
There are times when one can forget that Horizon Media has been around a while. Over 30 years, to be exact.
As the largest independent media agency in the world, Horizon thrives on its entrepreneurial spirit, especially of late. Just over four years ago, the agency entered into a partnership with Innocean to create Canvas Worldwide, Adweek’s 2019 Breakthrough Agency of the Year.
And last year, sensing an opportunity to make the market stand up and notice, Horizon and CEO Bill Koenigsberg entered into a joint venture with hip-hop star Armando Christian Pérez (better known as Pitbull) and built multicultural agency 305 Worldwide with him from scratch.
Helping make that vision a reality was Dobarro. A native of Argentina, she grew up in Honolulu, studied in San Francisco and now calls New York home. Dobarro believes that those cultural experiences inspired her path. In 2014, she joined Horizon to launch its dedicated multicultural division, and in that time, it has become the third-largest Hispanic media agency in the U.S., supporting over 25 brands.
“My diverse upbringing and love of other cultures led me to initially pursue a career in international marketing,” says Dobarro, an active member of Horizon’s diversity and inclusion council. “I quickly fell in love with the role and responsibility of helping brands authentically connect with multicultural consumers.”
One aspect that Dobarro is highly focused on is ensuring that data and measurement better represent the multicultural market and further validates the segment’s economic power and influence.
“The challenge is that the data is not always representative and often underreports contribution from multicultural segments,” she says. “Brands with multicultural-targeted efforts have long understood that these consumers fuel growth for their business. Those who engage with them reap the rewards, and those who do not risk leaving dollars at the table. —Doug Zanger
Fermon oversees communications strategy across the agency’s Boston and Los Angeles offices, working with accounts including Chipotle, Fox Entertainment, New Balance and Pinterest. “In my role, I lead a strategy team that makes research and data cool AF,” Fermon says. “Anyone who has ever worked with research, insights or data teams knows this is an anomaly.”
Fermon has achieved this uncommon feat by leveraging primary research to understand consumer motivation, translating that information for planners, creative media teams and clients. She also plays an important role in new business development, contributing to recent account wins like Instax and Twitch, and leads Mediahub’s thought leadership and research, including its regular research series, Scout.
“I didn’t know that being a ‘comms planner’ was an option until I tried it one day,” Fermon explains, adding that her journey in the space began with content development and digital strategy, balancing her passions for human behavior and culture. “I didn’t want to just react to culture; I wanted to play a part in driving it. I quickly became one of the founders of Mediahub’s communications planning practice, including the development and launch of its proprietary consumer insights and planning tool, Scout.”
Last year, she led Mediahub’s first global segmentation study, a six-month analysis for New Balance utilizing Scout. Insights from the study on young audiences led to the development of a unique gaming activation that earned the agency an Adweek Media Plan of the Year honor.
Over the course of the last 18 months, Mediahub’s communications planning practice has grown by 60%, with an eye toward “new, diverse voices with a variety of backgrounds.”
“It’s been so rewarding embracing my expertise and helping our team grow, but equally rewarding being surrounded by people who approach the industry with new perspectives,” Fermon says. “I’m so moved by their energy, thoughtfulness and curiosity—that’s what makes people succeed in this business. One of the biggest challenges in this industry is finding your voice, especially when it comes to young talent, but even more importantly, female and diverse talent. And they own it.” —E.O.
Gandhi is the force behind UM’s Addressable Content Engine (ACE), a proprietary tool that leverages data and technology to send personalized ads to people based on variables such as time of day, weather and the kind of content they’re consuming. The ACE team developed 63 personalized spots for SharkNinja’s Ninja Foodi products, for example, during the holiday season last year.
“This was all made possible because of the trust we built with clients to develop this first-to-market campaign,” says Gandhi. “What I see as the biggest opportunity for our industry is modernizing marketing to leverage data, insights and technology to build true consumer-centric marketing ecosystems.”
ACE has put UM at the forefront of personalized marketing at scale, helping the agency win brands such as American Express, Levi’s and Quicken Loans. What started as Gandhi’s idea five years ago has now been used by more than 20 clients and is available throughout UM’s top five regions.
According to UM, campaigns executed by Gandhi’s team of more than 50 content strategists, creatives, producers, software engineers and content analysts have garnered significant performance increases across key performance indicators when compared to standard digital efforts.
At the moment, Gandhi is focused on scaling the ACE capability worldwide while continuing to illustrate the value of personalized marketing to current and prospective clients. It’s an ambitious goal, but for Gandhi, the most rewarding aspect of his job is collaborating with his colleagues.
“I firmly believe that I am surrounded by some of the brightest, most-driven individuals in the industry,” he says. “I am truly in awe of the brilliance of my co-workers at UM, and the best aspect of my job has been creating a team of specialists who have led the addressable content practice to its worldwide successes.” —M.S.
In her role, Giacosa establishes the right data foundation to understand consumer behavior, analyzing all the data points compiled by the agency and finding the right technology to enable it and measure it for what matters. Assisting her is a team of over 300, who translate the complexities of data and tech into simple business-driven solutions for clients.
It’s a complicated process, so it’s a good thing that Giacosa counts “always be learning” as one of her core principles.
When she was 21, she had the option to move to Japan for a job as a marketing rep. Despite having limited travel experience and not being fluent in Japanese, she took the challenge.
“I had to quickly get comfortable with being uncomfortable. My time working in Japan shaped me as a person and has had a major impact on who I am, my decision-making and how I approach things,” she says. “Throughout my career, I have continued to look for opportunities that take me outside of my comfort zone and allow me to see things from a new perspective.”
A Publicis Media boomerang, she spent two years at Starcom MediaVest Group before joining Kimberly-Clark in 2014 and then returned to the Publicis Media fold via Spark Foundry in 2018. Giacosa credits her knowledge of fields outside of media, such as product development and supply chain while with Kimberly-Clark, as being vital in shaping her perspective and skill set.
Since joining Spark, she has helped doubled the size of the practice to over 300 employees, making it the largest practice of its kind within Publicis Media. For one QSR brand, Giacosa and her team utilized dynamic creative optimization to achieve ad personalization that led to 7,500 different versions of the client’s ad, resulting in sales lifts as high as 115%.
Always embracing challenges, Giacosa views the most pressing one facing her side of the media business, the death of the cookie, as an opportunity for Publicis Media to utilize data from sister company Epsilon.
“The constant changes and evolution in data keeps things interesting and exciting,” she says, “and I love when I am able to work with partners who are willing to try something new and innovative in order to try and crack a code to a perplexing challenge.” —E.O.
Willie Jackson II
One of the most challenging aspects of the agency business is winning accounts. And some argue that defending business is an even more stress-inducing endeavor.
But Jackson says the process of retaining and consolidating the Novartis business, with its $600 million, came with all manner of rewards, even outside of the obvious spoils of victory.
“[The process] was both extremely rewarding and challenging in the best way possible. I’m a naturally curious person, and I love learning from others. Through this experience, I was able to flex my analytics and consulting muscles, while also discovering new things,” he says.
Some of that “new” could very well be the collaboration with Epsilon, which Publicis purchased last year for more than $4 billion, and with which Starcom teamed up for the crucial win.
In addition to Novartis, the agency works closely with brands like Chick-fil-A, Kraft Heinz, Lionsgate and Red Bull, leveraging Starcom’s solutions architecture.
For Kraft Heinz, Jackson’s team implemented several multitouch attribution models for some of the company’s most iconic brands, like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Lunchables and Philadelphia Cream Cheese, resulting in a 6% increase in incremental sales across 15 products in the highly competitive CPG space.
“Willie continues to be my go-to guy when it comes to building and surfacing unique solutions on behalf of our clients,” says Zach Isaacs, evp, director and the Starcom client lead on the Kraft Heinz account.
The growth mindset is obvious outside of the bottom line as well. Jackson serves as a mentor through his involvement in the Black Association of Starcom Employees (BASE), one of the 30 business resource groups in the agency.
“As a leader within Starcom and BASE,” says Britany Rickett, Starcom’s media director of audience data strategy and fellow BASE member, “Willie’s participation helps inspire junior talent, while also demonstrating his advocacy for a more inclusive and diverse Starcom.” —D.Z.
Ten years ago, Koziarski was busy building something from nothing in a London attic. The something in question? OMD EMEA’s search practice, which he was tapped to launch—and managed to grow to a 50-person team within two years.
Since then, he’s stayed within the Omnicom Media Group family. Last year, Koziarski became PHD’s first chief media officer, a position he says partly involves ensuring the agency’s competencies in direct response are equal to those in brand building. He’s also been tasked with rethinking the agency’s service model to take advantage of the opportunities created by new data and technology, such as cross-screen measurement and delivery.
In recent months, he’s reorganized PHD around three integrated disciplines—planning, investment and orchestration—all while unearthing ways to make client media spend more effective. For instance, he recently pioneered a three-step process to flatten the frequency distribution of campaigns so that viewers aren’t seeing the same ads over and over again. According to PHD, brands that used the process saved a minimum of 10% of their video ad budget.
Despite having only one year under his belt, Koziarski has already helped PHD rack up major account wins such as Diageo, Casper, LG and TikTok. But he’s not resting on his laurels: Moving forward, he wants to help the industry battle what he calls precision paralysis.
“We have confused what is possible versus what is valuable and, in doing so, cheapened relationships with consumers,” he says. “I’m excited, not intimidated, by increased privacy protections and harnessing predictive intelligence that can both enhance results and preserve consumer privacy.” —M.S.
Coming from lauded creative shops like Fallon and Wieden + Kennedy as a media leader, Lustberg brought ample inspiration to the agency, which was founded in 2010.
“No matter who you were at those places—accounts, creative, media—everyone was expected to think big, get weird, surprise people or, God forbid, risk being ignored,” she says. “Core to this experience was a crazy high bar for creativity.”
This philosophy extended to her partners, as she firmly believed there was a market for a different kind of media shop, one built on a more creative ethos and with like-minded agencies and marketers.
“Data should influence business-driving initiatives,” says Lustberg. “But it’s often used as a blunt tool absent of creativity and human insight to truly design meaningful interactions that could be transformational.”
Noble People has worked with some of marketing’s emergent darlings, like Allbirds, Bumble, Glossier, Postmates and Slack, while also shepherding work for legacy brands such as Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ and PayPal. In 2019, the agency added 12 accounts to its roster, grew revenue by 10% from the previous year and upped its headcount to 75.
A considerable part of Lustberg’s (and the agency’s) approach is relentless focus, clarity and transparency. The agency’s model is based 100% on client fees instead of commissions on media—and vendor costs are passed through. There’s also an expectation of trust as Noble People positions itself for further growth. The shop hired a president with experience in scaling agencies, a chief strategy officer and a professional coach to work with the C-suite.
“We don’t pretend that we’ve built an agency before, or that we’ve ever held the positions we have,” says Lustberg. “We own that openly with our team and have invested in people who know things we don’t. If we’re doing work we’re all excited about and that drives business forward, it means there will be more of it to do, and we’ll attract great people who want to do more of it with us.” —D.Z.
Two years ago, Murphy left media giant UM, where he worked on the lucrative ExxonMobil account, to join a shop of scrappier sorts: Partners + Napier, a Rochester, N.Y.-based agency that isn’t exactly known for its media prowess.
But that could soon change thanks to Murphy, who’s helping the agency build out its media capabilities and picking up accounts along the way. In fact, just a few months ago, Partners + Napier was named creative and media agency for Smashburger after the agency led a campaign for the fast-casual chain that resulted in one of its best sales weeks ever.
Murphy says much of his role involves working with senior leadership to inspire collaboration between media and creative. He’s currently leading an effort to unite media, creative, account and strategy for a truly integrated agency offering.
“I saw an opportunity with Partners + Napier to take what I’d learned at the big media giants and build a different kind of media offering—one that integrates with creative to strengthen the overall agency product and delivers more impact for brands,” he says.
Because of his efforts, media is now the agency’s highest growth area. According to Partners + Napier, gross media billings have doubled in the past year.
For Murphy, balancing “data and instincts” for clients is a crucial part of success.
“A constant challenge is using data to inform, but also trusting your gut and experience when making decisions,” he notes. “When driven only by the numbers, you lose the opportunity to make people really feel something, which is why I love the collaboration we’re creating between media and creative. I’ve spent my whole career in media, but I am bullish about the power of creativity.” —M.S.
For many in the industry, data is a needed but confusing proposition. As the broad discussion of “big data” has shifted into eye-watering waves of analytics, even the most seasoned advertising professional can feel perplexed. Fortunately, there are people like Okoronkwo to help translate.
Okoronkwo, who holds an MBA from Pace University, leads a team of over 100 data translators and scientists who focus on simplifying and refining decision-making processes. His contributions have helped Mindshare USA double its pitch win rate from 2018 to 2019.
As what he calls an “analytics ambassador,” Okoronkwo is the mastermind behind Synapse, a sales forecasting tool that was built specifically for Volvo and helps optimize the brand’s marketing mix for growth and sales.
“Ikechi and his team have been instrumental in the transformation at Volvo Car USA from traditional advertiser to data-first advertiser,” says Trevor Hettesheimer, Volvo USA manager of KPI, analytics, search and planning.
The platform has since been rolled out to other Mindshare clients, including American Family Insurance, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the U.S. Marine Corps. According to Okoronkwo, who joined Mindshare from GroupM in 2017, Synapse has helped the agency’s clients understand how data and, by extension, media can be better connected to brand growth.
“I’m focused on shifting the industry conversations around measurement and analytics to focus more on connecting media actions to business outcomes,” he says. “In the past, people went straight to piping in all available data and treated reporting as the first task to be done. That’s a problem because you end up looking at everything instead of identifying the metrics that matter—the ones that can be truly connected to a brand’s tangible goals.” —D.Z.
For all of Shaffner’s successes, her most admirable attribute is perhaps her loyalty. For 26 years, she’s climbed the ranks at Cincinnati-based Empower, rising from director of client marketing to chief investment officer of the 200-person creative media agency.
In her current role, she’s responsible for overseeing the investment strategy for clients’ marketing budgets. Her track record speaks for itself: In 2019, she helped lead 35-year-old Empower to its best year yet, one in which revenue increased by more than 30% and 80 new hires joined. She also recently led one of Empower’s largest retail clients to year-over-year growth.
“I don’t settle for what’s easy,” she says. “I’m a fan of shaking things up and challenging the status quo. When we push ourselves to think outside the lines, amazing ideas come to life.”
While her job keeps her busy, she still finds time to mentor future leaders. According to Shaffner, she loves the challenge of identifying potential in someone and encouraging them on their career path.
“Being knowledgeable at your craft is just a small part of leadership. Becoming a leader that has the courage to take risks and the humility to share success with others is so key to leadership success in today’s business world,” she says. “I thrive on working with individuals to nurture their leadership potential and go on to create their own legacy.”
Outside of work, her greatest passion is supporting and encouraging her daughter, Kelly, who was recently commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.
Says Shaffner, “I love helping new Marine parents by providing information and support as they join their new military family.” —M.S.
Simons’ extensive media agency background, including serving as West Coast director for OMD’s creative media group, has been instrumental in helping the full-service agency excel at the media side of the business. Giant Spoon grew by 100% in both staff count and revenue every year from its 2013 inception through 2019.
“We built Giant Spoon because we wanted to reshape the status quo. We saw the potential to create something disruptive; to service clients with better thinking and a more creative approach,” Simons says. “The most rewarding part of this job is seeing that impact come to life in our work—work that has an impact on all of us, from our clients to their customers, our partners and certainly our Spoons.”
Simons continues to play an essential role in all of Giant Spoon’s West Coast entertainment accounts and in its Los Angeles-based media AOR relationships with One Medical and the San Diego Zoo, among others. Simons cited Giant Spoon’s work with One Medical last year as a particular highlight. The agency worked with the client to raise awareness for mental health, partnering with iHeartMedia and musical podcast Bear and a Banjo to release an original song titled “Better Days” reminding audiences they are not alone in facing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
“In advertising, we don’t always get a chance to make this kind of impact,” he notes. “This was an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.” —E.O.
Turner oversees analytics at Mediahub, a role that involves developing his team’s tools and processes to empower a “human-based, data-driven media approach” for clients. This includes everything from providing real-time insights for ongoing campaign optimizations to uncovering strategic insights that set the direction for media budgets and creative plans.
It’s no easy task, but Turner is up for the challenge. After all, he spent a good portion of his career at companies like Nestlé U.K. and Procter & Gamble before coming to the realization that “the CPG industry was falling behind in the digital environment,” leading him to jump ship for Mediahub.
“I was drawn to Mediahub, which offered a cutting-edge environment for me to leap ahead in this space while still being grounded in the fundamental insights of human behavior,” he explains.
Since joining, his team has helped a number of tech companies, many of which grew rapidly via direct response marketing, find the value in brand building.
“We have onboarded five or so Silicon Valley clients who had reached a growth plateau, and we knew they needed to shift to brand-building strategies to reignite growth,” he says. “Combining my strategic planning experience with the data-driven digital knowledge we have developed at Mediahub, my team and I have developed an approach to planning, testing and scaling a shift from lower-funnel to full-funnel marketing.”
He’s also helped more established brands improve their media operations. For example, he recently developed a customized model for educational brand Pearson that helps the company understand how its TV spots are performing on a real-time basis. According to Mediahub, this model has resulted in a “massive reduction in costs to generate responses for the brand,” being reduced by more than sixfold. —M.S.
While data drives brands, the science behind it continues to evolve and, perhaps ironically, utilizing it effectively is an imperfect art. Each agency and brand needs bespoke solutions to determine its priorities in reaching consumers.
To that end, Zmerli built on what the agency calls its “purchase journey thinking.” Wavemaker—the result of a merger between MEC and Maxus two years ago—dug deep to unearth how customers can be reached and converted, whether or not they are seeking out a brand’s product. She and her team also went beyond just focusing broadly on a brand. Zmerli, who joined Wavemaker from Merkle about three-and-a-half years ago, researched ways that data could funnel down to the individual product level.
This considered approach boosted Wavemaker clients like Church & Dwight, Ikea and L’Oréal. Then, to prove it out more widely, Zmerli, who holds a Ph.D. in marketing, partnered with BuzzFeed on an extensive customer loyalty study outlining how today’s consumers make purchasing decisions.
“The priming stage, also known as everyday life, is where consumers are formulating their opinion of brands or ‘biases’ and identifying those which best reflect their values,” she says. “Layer on platforms like Amazon acting as filters or curators, and it’s grown more difficult for marketers to impact and convert at the point of purchase.”
This insight, along with the development of a single platform to improve decision-making, gave Wavemaker’s clients an edge and helped them see the possibilities of data and digital positively impacting growth. It also resulted in 95% of the agency’s clients having digital spend and helped increase organic growth.
“I am not into chasing shiny objects or going after buzzwords,” notes Zmerli. “I get to the crux of the challenge and assess its impact on business.” —D.Z.