One of the great things about being a start-up is that you get to develop close relationships with some of your earliest clients and partners that drive the evolution of your business. One of our earliest supporters (and one of our hands-down favorite partners), Hillary Pecorale — Associate Director of Media Strategy at Acknowledge Digital in NYC — joins us this week to share her perspective on the industry, emerging technologies, and share a few tips she’s learned along the way.
How did you get into the digital space and what do you like most about working at a boutique agency like Acknowledge Digital?
I had the opportunity right out of college to work at an integrated agency — my background is actually in PR — and was lucky enough to learn more on the planning and buying side of marketing/communications strategy. It opened my eyes up to so many options and new ways to be creative and strategic by working with ad tech and partners outside the agency. To be honest, seeing the amount of money clients were more willing to pay for advertising certainly helped, too. From that point, it was clear to see how much of those ad dollars were dedicated to digital and how much more would continue to shift that way as media evolves. Fast forward a bit to 2019 and I have been at AKDM for four years. What I love about our agency is that I have had the experience to work with various types of businesses, diverse goals, exciting and ever-changing technologies — and all while really truly enjoying it thanks to being surrounded by people who feel the same way about the work we do. Not to knock specialized and hyper-focused agencies that only work with a single type of client, but I think not having to pigeonhole ourselves opens us up to a lot more testing, learning, and cross-vertical exposure.
The digital advertising industry changes at a rapid pace. How do you stay current on new and emerging technologies in the space?
Sign up for and ACTUALLY READ industry newsletters! It can totally feel like content overload and yes, some of the time it’s super irrelevant to your day to day (it’s so easy to just swipe it away first thing in the morning, I know), but publishers and partners are already distilling a lot of this in digestible ways into super helpful newsletters and blogs, might as well lean on them for all of that information (even if some of them are a little biased to their own solutions). I also recommend making connections outside of your agency. See how others are doing business or addressing problems. Always be communicating and learning!
When there is a need to look beyond your internal capabilities, what do you look for in a partnership and how do you evaluate new tools / platforms to bring to your clients?
Potential for scale and accessibility are the most important to us. How easy is it for us to fulfill that need with the tool/partner? Is it a lot of heavy-lifting? Does it take a lot of training? Is it something that works for more than one client? Does it fill in the blanks for more than one need all at once? Those are the important questions we ask, but of course it helps when the partner is truly invested in helping, not just selling.
We have partnered on several campaigns now… can you tell us about your experience with Spaceback and why you continue to utilize the social content ad formats for your clients?
Besides the super supportive team and continuously open channel for feedback?! Spaceback’s solution is a great example of how often things are changing in our industry. We can totally understand how for some types of businesses the standard display banner just doesn’t cut it anymore, but that doesn’t mean creative directors know exactly how to pivot in response — Spaceback gives us the opportunity to test without extensive asset creation and resources and for a lot of situations, it ends up outperforming our previous static banners. I think it speaks measures to how different digital audiences are engaging — and expecting to be engaged with — online. We’re definitely feeling the effects of social media-driven content consumption!
What advice would you give to someone entering the digital advertising industry today?
Be nimble! Do not expect to be doing what you’re doing now forever. Things are changing fast and you have to be able to adapt.
Anything new you’re reading/watching/listening to that we should know about?
Adam Davidson’s Passion Economy podcast! If you were a fan of Planet Money, or enjoy listening to business profiles on NPR, this is a pretty inspiring continuation of that genre. Listening to others’ success stories can make you feel pretty good.