“Omnichannel advertising is a big part of optimizing customer experience. By using first-party data, you can take meet people in the moment with the right message in the right place at the right time. It’s cliched but it matters.”
Hi, Aaron, could you tell us about your professional journey so far?
I got my first job in marketing selling ads for the newspaper at University of Illinois. At the time, we were just launching a website so most of the campaigns I worked on were for print. After graduation, I joined L90 (shout out to Matt Spiegel) which was an online ad network that acquired DoubleClick Media and became MaxOnline. That’s where I met Bill Wise (who is now CEO at Mediaocean) and that company ended up selling to Excite and then Ask Jeeves and then IAC. It was a great crash course in digital marketing (and M&A!) and I was fortunate to survive the dot-com crash.
After IAC, I helped start Resolution Media with a few folks including Lance Neuhauser (who would become CEO at 4C) and eventually we were acquired by Omnicom. Then I branched out on my own with Connectual and wrote a book, “Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google.” From there, I went to Kenshoo (now called Skai) as CMO and, after about 5 years, moved over to 4C and had that same role for another 5 years. In 2020, we were acquired by Mediaocean and I now have the privilege of leading the global marketing team. It’s been an incredible ride but I like that the question said “so far” as the best is yet ahead!
What challenges did the COVID-19 pandemic pose for you and your team?
The pandemic hit just before 4C joined forces with Mediaocean so we had to do all the integration while working remotely. It wasn’t easy but our teams showed great resilience and adaptability. It’s not easy to build culture over zoom but we made it a priority to create ways for people to connect. I put a water cooler in the bedroom as a reminder to make space for small talk and the interactions that normally happen organically in an office. It also helps me stay hydrated.
What sets Mediaocean apart from the competition?
With tools for everything from planning to buying to creative to billing, brands and agencies can do it all with Mediaocean. Our biggest advantage is having access to all media to enable true omnichannel advertising. Some tech platforms go deep in digital marketing, some are big in traditional media. We’re the only ones that do both at scale. And we’re independent so there’s no bias towards any particular channel, publisher, or format.
How, according to you, has marketing technology or marketing automation changed the entire marketing landscape?
When I first started in advertising at the school paper, everything was done manually. Plans were made on printed calendars. Buying was done via phone and fax. Creative had to be hand-set before going to press. And performance was measured though coupon redemptions or toll-free numbers.
Nowadays, all those functions are automated. Don’t get me wrong, humans still play an important role in marketing but ad tech has made everything more efficient. For example, with Flashtalking by Mediaocean, we can create and serve thousands of different ads in seconds. And we can instantly show how many people interacted with them and ultimately made a purchase.
How has advertising technology or AdTech evolved and what does the future of AdTech look like?
When I joined L90 in 2000, we had an ad server called adMonitor that delivered campaigns on a contextual basis with fixed pricing. In other words, the ads were targeted based on specific websites (or sections of the websites) that we would enter into the system and the cost of each ad was set in advance.
Now, thanks to innovations in ad tech, campaign targeting and prices can be adjusted based on any number of factors including context, audience, geography, and behavior – and all this can be done in real time across websites, apps, connected TVs, and streaming audio.
Looking ahead, digital marketing is being reshaped by forces of data deprecation. Flashtalking helps advertisers prepare for a cookieless world with solutions for identity orchestration, ad serving, and dynamic creative. Plus, there’s the artist formerly known as Scope by 4C for navigating inside (and across) walled gardens. And all of these products are integrated into Prisma as a source of truth for billing. We have an entire Lumascape swimming in our Mediaocean!
Do you think omnichannel advertising is ideal for creating a consistent brand experience for customers?
Consumers don’t think about channels. They just want to get consistent and personalized experiences. Whether that’s with media or with brands, they expect to pick up where they left off and anything that gets in the way of that is an annoyance.
Omnichannel advertising is a big part of optimizing customer experience. By using first-party data, you can take meet people in the moment with the right message in the right place at the right time. It’s cliched but it matters.
Think about real-life scenarios where you run into people you’ve known for years but they don’t recognize you. It’s super awkward. You have to remind them who you are and what you’re interested in. You probably walk away from those interactions not wanting to see those people again. The same goes for brands. Omnichannel advertising is how you show your customers that you recognize them and value them. That’s how you create loyal brand advocates.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to those who wish to enter the MarTech world?
Your personal brand and professional network are the keys to success. I like to say, “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” And always use the Oxford comma or else you’ll be ridiculed by my parents, Lupita Nyong’o, and Kevin Smith.
Aaron Goldman is CMO at Mediaocean, the mission-critical platform for omnichannel advertising. With $200 billion in annualized ad spend running through its software, Mediaocean provides foundational solutions to connect brands, agencies, media, technology, and data. In his role, Goldman leads a wave of global initiatives across corporate marketing, communications, content, branding, and demand generation.
Mediaocean is the mission-critical platform for omnichannel advertising. With more than $200 billion in annualized media spend managed through its software, Mediaocean connects brands, agencies, media, technology, and data. Using AI and machine learning technology to control marketing investments and optimize business outcomes, Mediaocean powers campaigns from planning, buying, ad serving, and creative personalization to analysis, optimization, invoices, and payments. Mediaocean employs 1,700 staff across 30 global offices and supports over 100,000 people using its products.