Blood, Sweat & CPMs Podcast: Episode 9

Welcome to the Blood, Sweat and CPMs Podcast presented by Freestar.

Our hosts, Jeff Kudishevich and Andy Forwark are here to add levity and provide helpful pointers for anyone navigating the world of Ad Tech. Each episode, they will go through the top threads from the Ad Operations Subreddit and give their take on each hot topic of the week. They will also interview thought leaders across the industry to get their perspective on what matters most to them. Follow along on our Blog for show notes and associated links to each episode. Enjoy!


Episode 9

Mike Petrella (Verizon) on Leadership Strategy | Thoughts on Ad Products, Ad Tech Talent, and Industry Secrets.

In this episode, Jeff and Andy discuss the best Sticky-Footer vendors, where to find the best AdTech talent, and industry secrets. Later in the episode, Jeff and Andy speak with Verizon Media’s VP, Global Partnerships, Mike Petrella about his leadership strategy and the merging of big-name competing companies.


Listen to the episode on Spotify, now!



About Our Guests


Mike Petrella is a Vice President in the Global Partnerships organization for Verizon Media where he has been for over 21 years, holding roles in Sales, Account Management, Operations and most recently, Global Partnerships.  Mike was the 4th employee for Teknosurf, which eventually became Advertising.com.  He was a board member for the Towson University College of Business and Economics where he co-authored a master’s curriculum for Programmatic Marketing, rewrote the Interactive Marketing 401 undergrad class, teaching both staff and students, and started a mentoring program for CBE (College of Business and Economics) undergrads. Mike’s been married for 18 years to Michele Petrella, and together they have two daughters, Anna and Lucy and live in Phoenix, MD.



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[00:00:04.140] 

People need to understand the need to master their role, so they build a solid foundation, so as they ascend with an organization and their career. There are holes because if there’s holes in the foundations, you’re going to get exposed. And that’s just that’s a way to topple over the future. Take your time, figure out what you’re doing, do it well, and then do the next thing. Welcome, welcome.

[00:00:27.900] 

Welcome. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. This is, of course, the Freestar Blood, Sweat and CPMs podcast. I am your host, Jeff Kudishevich.

[00:00:38.100] 

And I’m Andy Forwark, your co-pilot guiding you through this wild world of ADTECH.

[00:00:42.780] 

Andy I love having you as my guide, especially in this wild world. On today’s show, we’re going to have our special guest, Mike Petrella from Verizon Media. We’re chatting with Mike about his management style, how he’s seen the business evolve over the years being at AOL and different iterations at Verizon. And then, of course, we’re going to break down the top Reddit adopts threads of the week before we get into that. Andy, did you see a little incident with a tennis player a few days ago, Mr.

[00:01:15.240] 

Novak Djokovic over at the US Open?

[00:01:17.760] 

Yeah, I might have seen something on the old ESPN there. What did he do? He hit his ball towards the wall in frustration and struck. Yep. What is that person called that he struck?

[00:01:31.890] 

The lines judge lines,judge in the throat, of all places. In the throat is a bad place to strike anybody, let alone with a flying object, let alone when they’re there really to help you in your sport.

[00:01:48.060] 

Right. Look, I used to play tennis way back in the day. It’s a very mental heavy game. It’s one on one. Unless you’re playing doubles. Obviously, I can do math. And there there will be times like that where you’re just frustrated and you don’t know what to say or do. Novak has a little bit of history of this, Andy maybe you’re not quite as familiar with the tennis world, but certainly a big sports fan. Any any thoughts for similar type of things you’ve seen in the past?

[00:02:21.640] 

Well, maybe not physically harming or. Well, of course, I don’t think he meant to actually hit the ball at the person, so we’ll give him that. But I think, you know, baseball pitchers have the same kind of mental toughness or or that could that could collapse. And one of the things that comes to mind when seeing a player, you know, that’s just that much into the game is maybe thinking back to this weekend. Actually, I think it was Clayton Kershaw throwing a no hitter against the Diamondbacks, my Diamondbacks and Jeff’s Dodgers.

[00:03:01.500] 

And you could see that I don’t. Look, I Rep LA real hard to to call me a baseball fan would would be a disservice to baseball fans. So very, very into indirectly, Jeff. The Dodgers.

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Sure. But looking at Kershaw, as I was watching the game, you could see it in his face, that mental you know, he’s in the game. There’s no one else. If somebody talked to him, he could snap on that person just the same way as as the tennis player did. And apologies. I’m not a big tennis fan. I just don’t want to say his name because I think I might butcher it.

[00:03:43.680] 

Sure Novak Djokovic. Yeah. And and the thing is, of course, the Internet being the Internet. Somebody finds a clip of him a while back, basically getting asked by a reporter, hey, why do you do all these demonstrative things? Are you not worried at some point they’re going to suspend you? And his cocky retort, of course, is, well, they haven’t basically we haven’t done it yet. So obviously, I’m not breaking any rules.

[00:04:16.080] 

And then, sure enough, he gets ejected from the tournament. And not just any tournament.

[00:04:22.020] 

Right. A Grand Slam in the U.S. US Open, this is this is major.

[00:04:26.970] 

And I think this would be one of the one of the few grand slams in the last few years where Federer, Rafa Nadal or or Djokovic aren’t going to be in the semis or something like that. I forgot what what stat I saw about that. But yeah, really interesting losing your cool like that. Andy, I’m ready to talk some ad ops topics. Hopefully we don’t snap. Thankfully, we’re doing this virtually so even if. You do snap, you can’t fling a tennis ball at me.

[00:05:02.410] 

Certainly not at my throat. Yeah, definitely won’t be doing any of that. But, you know, if I if I get upset or something, maybe I can just, like, hard hang up. Is that like a thing on the Internet?

[00:05:13.690] 

Like I used to like slam the phone in like other you don;t have that anymore. Where is that. You could maybe play a sound and then that will let me know that you’re hanging up on me. But it’s really you’re just exiting the browser. Yeah. And then yeah.

[00:05:31.180] 

Maybe he can think about using some kind of sound in his tennis game in the future to get that frustration out.

[00:05:40.060] 

All right, Andy, now the moment of truth.

[00:05:42.490] 

Our time to break down the top rated Ad ops threads of the week, in case you don’t know, which I would imagine most don’t. I actually started the ad ops sub Reddit in twenty twelve, and it’s now somehow become one of the leading ad ops communities in the industry. What do you think, Andy? Yeah, it’s a great community.

[00:06:01.240] 

Happy to be a part of it. I’m excited for this segment to just run down all the different threads that we see over the weeks and give our opinions on it. Awesome.

[00:06:11.350] 

 First Thread Up is entitled What are the best paying video ads for a website with decent fill rates? Andy, we we’ve certainly dealt with out stream and in stream business users talking about here. I want to throw out a few quick hitters and take it from there. So player size is important. Size is important. If you hit a certain width, usually it’s about five hundred pixels wide. Now you’re in this large player category, your CPMs just will naturally be higher being in that higher category.

[00:06:46.000] 

Certain things like quality of your traffic, your vertical. It’s a lot of crossover between the display side and the video side. Certain other things that aren’t display oriented, like cortile tracking, you know number of video completes, that sort of thing. Advertisers are going to have different KPIs. Obviously, clicks are not nearly as important on the video side as they are on on display. Andy you want to talk about in stream versus out stream a little bit.

[00:07:15.610] 

Yeah Jeff so difference between out stream and in stream. You’re likely going to see a lot higher CPMs on the in stream. As you alluded to, the players are typically wider. Think of YouTube showing video ads. That’s your basic in stream type of content. So if you’re going with the out stream option, you’re going to be looking at probably putting that video into the content. It’s only going to be serving video ads, probably not other content with it.

[00:07:43.310] 

Like and when I talk about content, I mean, like your own publisher, you know how to video or something like that, proprietary in-house content. Andy you mentioned having the the unit put potentially run within content.

[00:07:59.320] 

The other thing I wanted to touch on, we talk about it fairly frequently, but it’s not always considered is that making sure whatever solution you go with complies with the better ad standards. It’s pretty easy to follow, but it’s also pretty easy to forget it exists, particularly on mobile. You want to make sure if you, for instance, have a sticky footer video player that it’s not covering more than I believe it’s 30 percent of the screen.

[00:08:27.400] 

Yeah. So you make a good point about, you know, looking at the better ad standards and staying within those guidelines. The other thing you want to think about with out stream is that you’re going to be running probably a lot of providers through the out stream, meaning trying to rotate different video vendors into that. And you really need to pay attention to how much weight on the page and CPU power is being used by these video ads. There could be very heavy video ads that are constantly running tracking scripts.

[00:08:56.860] 

Jeff mentioned the cortile reporting how many completes how how far the quartiles are. Twenty five, fifty seventy five percent through or one hundred percent. So with all these other events that you’re trying to track, a lot of times you can see that it uses more of the user’s computer. So trying to stick with some vendors where you’re not seeing performance hiccups like that I think is really key. And that’s probably also going to lead you to a better source of revenue as well.

[00:09:23.800] 

The the cleaner, more high quality ads in the video space are going to usually lead you down higher profitability.

[00:09:32.440] 

And the next up is just entitled ad ops talent, like the first line here, quote, genuine question. Where is the best place to find ad ops talent? Genuine answer. I think first thing is look at your own network. Right. So this person’s talking about having to replace their right hand person at their at their company. So maybe it’s a more valuable role that they need to fill. Maybe A needs to do a little bit of everything.

[00:10:02.500] 

Do you have anybody in your network who can do this right, whether it’s contacts, whether it’s vendors? Personally, whenever I have a good conversation with the vendor, I take note that it’s a small industry. We all end up working for each other at some point. So if I have good conversations with somebody who wows me or maybe just, hey, I know you know a lot of people, so it’s something I might reach out to later.

[00:10:31.600] 

I always go there first. Just see it. Does anybody I know or anybody who they know have any leads or know of anybody who’s looking for work who maybe is in need? Also, I’ll add, as we’re sort of expanding kind of the next place I’ll typically look are just probably some of the resources. You probably know LinkedIn, the Reddit Ad ops community, where this person posted on, ad monsters. And you’ve you’ve obviously hired quite a few people here at Freestar.

[00:11:05.140] 

Where do you find top talent? How do you find it?

[00:11:07.360] 

Yeah, I think it’s a lot of the things you said, Jeff, come into the ad ops sub Reddit is a great place to start, though. It’s a community of people that like to do this. But, yeah, there’s there’s a job board in there. So you could probably put your job description in there just to see if people are interested. I mean, really comes down to you get what you work, you put into it, try to look through LinkedIn.

[00:11:28.960] 

Even if you think the job title would be simple as like ad operations manager or something like that, try to get creative and see if you can come across other titles. I know in this industry there’s a lot of non-standard titles. Here at Freestar. Jeff and I are working in the publisher operations department, which is sort of new to me when when I joined Freestar wasn’t necessarily usually it was ad operations department. So even just little things like that can.

[00:11:57.880] 

Exactly.

[00:11:58.660] 

It’s just a little nuance where I don’t even know how many times I end up having to change the search parameter where I’ll say director, blah, blah, blah, and then I’ll do blah, blah, blah, director or senior manager or whatever it is.

[00:12:15.580] 

Right. And just try to get as many different parts of it. Or you if you’re looking for somebody in a yield capacity, you have to look for yield, monetization, revenue, revenue operations, all of these different things that there’s no universal term in this industry for a lot of these roles. So you really have to see the background to understand if they could be a fit or not.

[00:12:41.980] 

I’ll also add, though, that it is it is very hard to find people that do these jobs and, you know, they’re out there.

[00:12:51.610] 

It takes a while, though. It’s not surprising to me that it’s hard to fill these kinds of positions because they’re very specific. And there’s not a lot of I mean, they’re describing that they need a person that’s good to ad ops, but also good at talking to clients. And those are two skill sets that don’t necessarily always align. The last thing I wanted to add is not all of somebody’s talents are necessarily on the page either. And that’s when it gets really tricky.

[00:13:19.180] 

Somebody saying on their resume or even on their LinkedIn ,great with speaking to clients. And then you get on the phone with them like I don’t want them to speak to me, let alone a client. So some of these things you just kind of learn when you go through the process, but you try to eliminate as much as you can along the way. And if you can be be more flexible. To Andy’s point, some of those things you’re looking for, maybe a bit of a unicorn and maybe it’s just going to be too hard to find.

[00:13:49.180] 

So maybe instead of having one, maybe really highly paid person who can do three things, maybe find two people who are less expensive, but do those things next thread is sticky footer vendors. Are there any premium sticky footer vendors who perform well through pre-bid? I was just going to rattle off a few names. Thirty three across, gum, gum undertone, some that I think underdog underdog media also has a private adapter info links, which I believe is just tag based.

[00:14:20.350] 

Still, there’s lots of vendors who do sticky footer on its own, like what I would call direct sold quote unquote premium. So on this note about this, the sticky footer vendors, and I think really the only thing here is kind of making sure that all of the demand, not just the premium vendors, can actually compete. Right. Premium sticky footer. To me, it kind of the example product I think of right away is gum gum.

[00:14:50.200] 

And if you’ve seen this, it’s more obvious on mobile, I think. And when you go to the site, it’ll show the ad at the bottom as it comes up, but then there’s kind of a border that wraps around the whole screen. You know that’s inherently different than an IAB standard three, 20 by 50. So in your tech stack, if you’re already running your own sticky footer, you’re going to have to accommodate for a different type. So if you’ve built something that already has a close button and holds the add nicely at the bottom, those are the things you need to kind of account for.

[00:15:24.360] 

So running this through pre-bid is the way to go.

[00:15:26.790] 

It’s just then whether, you know, it did gum, gum when and if it did, OK, well then the code is handled a little bit differently there.

[00:15:34.110] 

So that’s just something to think about when you’re going down that road. Next thread.

[00:15:38.970] 

Andy, is what’s an industry secret in media slash ad tech. So my industry secret is that you actually don’t need a degree to be in this industry. Most of us don’t have a degree at all related to what we do. Some of us don’t have a degree. In general. Most of us learned on the job wherever they were. I’m a philosophy major. I did not for one second learn or think about advertising before I started. In this industry, and it worked for me, I like the cultures, I like the way people are laid back.

[00:16:24.050] 

It’s probably been a long time since I’ve dressed up outside of some client calls and that sort of thing in any kind of fancy wear I’m not a fancy wear kind of person, you just have to have a good head on your shoulders. Having experience is good or getting your foot in the door somewhere. A lot of it honestly just comes down to are you keeping up with what’s going on in the industry? Did you learn from other people who were in it?

[00:16:52.540] 

I learned from a guy, Greg, when I first started at break what DART was how to how to serve ads. There’s no schooling. There was no certificate I got I just started and they taught me the job and I was like, OK, I get it. I’m doing it. So it was frustrating at times, but I’m doing it and I’ll do a little self promotion here. Freestar kind of saw this from our virtual retreat a few months ago, and we just quickly decided as an organization that we’re just not going to ask for college degrees anymore.

[00:17:34.860] 

You know, maybe if we’re looking for, I don’t know, another lawyer or maybe a data scientist, I know somebody who needs actual education specific to their field.

[00:17:47.650] 

But outside of that, we just thought there’s no point in asking for this maybe more antiquated hiring practice to to persist. And hopefully it helps us get different people from different backgrounds who maybe would have otherwise been not able to apply because they saw, oh, there’s a qualification that I don’t hit. One of the things that I also learned when we were talking about that topic is most female candidates, if they don’t see that they’ve hit every single requirement, are not going to apply for a role.

[00:18:22.900] 

So if for whatever reason, we had required four year degree from an accredited university or college and they just happened to not be a person who had that, but they were great at every other thing, we might have lost a potential great candidate from applying just because we had a requirement that is not just doesn’t make sense anymore.

[00:18:47.560] 

Yeah, Jeff, I was thinking about this and, you know, I am a tech person, so I innately go to the the tech side of things and want to look at everything tech. But to the outside person coming into this industry, we call it ad tech, we call it ad operations. So it may seem a little bit more techie than than it actually is. I think this business is really and this industry is really built around the people.

[00:19:13.480] 

And that kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier with like networking at conferences and and just talking to people. And and what you learn is that not every person that you talk to really is like behind the scenes, the tech side of it. But they can speak to it just because they’ve worked in it and learned it. So it’s something I think you quickly pick up on a lot of acronyms. That’s maybe another trade secret here.

[00:19:38.660] 

A lot of acronyms you got to learn. But, yeah, I think it’s it’s a little bit less intimidating if you just think of it like, well, I’m just going to go talk to people and, you know, work with people that know things about how we should advertise to to folks on the Internet.

[00:19:53.080] 

All right, Andy, it was great talking about some industry trade secrets. Now, let’s go pick Mike’s brain, our special guest from Verizon Media. Sounds like a great idea, Jeff.

[00:20:03.490] 

Let’s see what Mike has to say.

[00:20:07.280] 

Now, welcome to our special guest, Mike Petrella, who is the vice president in the Global Partnerships Organization for Verizon Media, where he has been for over twenty one years, including roles in sales, account management operations and most recently, global partnerships. Mike was actually the fourth employee for TechnoServe, which eventually became Advertising.com. He was a board member for the Towson University College of Business and Economics, where he co-authored a master’s curriculum for programmatic marketing, rewrote the interactive marketing for a one undergrad class, teaching both staff and students, and started a mentoring program for the College of Business and Economics, the CBE for undergrads.

[00:20:53.160] 

Mike’s been married for 18 years to Michelle Petrella, and together they have two daughters, Anna and Lucy, and live in Phoenix, Maryland. Welcome to the show, Mike.

[00:21:03.390] 

Thanks for the invite. It’s good to see you guys again. Yeah, likewise, Mike. So to get started, can you talk us through how you got into ADTECH in the first place? Tell us through your about your career journey. Sure.

[00:21:16.140] 

AdTech sort of found me. So I was a senior in college and I was playing in a band. And in addition to that, I was also a British literature major. Sounds very typical for Ad tech, right? Yeah, I know. It’s the perfect, perfect biohere. The drummer in my band was best friends with a guy named John Furber, and John was a co-founder to the company TechnoServe, so he and his brother founded it. One day I came to band practice in a suit and tie as I had an interview with the FDA for an internship and John Furber happened to be there.

[00:21:46.830] 

What are you doing in a suit and tie?

[00:21:49.610] 

Yeah, that’s a good question. At a band practice. Exactly. He’s like, not forget that I don’t work for the government. My brother and I are going to start a company, come with us. And I remember my father is was a principal and superintendent. So I actually had Scott Furba, who was the business side of the co-founders. Right. My father, a letter to convince him that I should go to the startup called TechnoServe.

[00:22:13.590] 

And so if you can imagine a very regimented Italian household where like it’s very patriarch. And so it was four of us in the townhouse in Towson and that was TechnoServe. And that was my start. My job was the network recruiter and my I had to go out to various websites and see if they would take a twenty five percent CPC campaign for Capital One, which was our first advertiser.

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And Mike, did you know what a CPC was at this point when you’re pitching it to people? Barely. So the first the first day was a lot of whiteboarding and acronyms. And, you know, I didn’t realize how many acronyms you could possibly use in the industry. And I think within that first day in my head almost exploded. So what I did was I worked all day as an intern, technically earning twenty five bucks a day, and then went to school at night for two semesters and thirty five bucks a day.

[00:23:05.910] 

And yeah, it’s better than most startups. So yeah, I did that like I did thirty six credits over two semesters at night while helping startup TechnoServe and Advertising.com. And then I graduated in December 99. My, my present to myself was to literally stop going to night class, so I got lucky. A door opened, a friend had confidence in me and I stepped into it and essentially built out what was the TechnoServe and Advertising.com Network during that time.

[00:23:34.140] 

A lot of experience, right? You know, we went from this startup where like shoes and shirt were optional to, hey, we have like A, B and C funding and we have clients coming in, like tuck your shirt in and no drinking beer with your lunch in front of clients anymore.

[00:23:47.760] 

And so we brought in like people who weren’t friends either. For us, it was a transition from what was like this friendly startup that actually had potential to a business, brought in a number of folks with experience who helped us take a number of steps. I myself like again, management experience in 2004. I remember going out to California at San Francisco every week for a year because we didn’t have a West Coast presence. And so I was you were like moonlighting as the West Coast presence, more or less.

[00:24:14.340] 

Yeah. I mean, I had a team in Baltimore and I would travel between Seattle and Los Angeles, which was like the luxury of it was wonderful. Right. Like frequent flyer miles, hotels. It was it was an awesome experience. And, you know, fortunately, I’ve I’ve navigated the waters for the past twenty one years. And, you know, through the purchase by AOL Verizon, I really look at it as opportunity, you know, here I am today.

[00:24:39.280] 

So, yeah, it was a rather unique entry into the ADTECH world. I’m proud of. I’m proud of being able to step through that door myself and then continue the journey.

[00:24:49.650] 

I feel like I’m pretty OG when it comes to ADTECH and this industry. But not not quite your level there.

[00:24:56.610] 

I’m impressed with that. AOL and Verizon like them buying you out, like when you told people you worked for AOL, like they probably thought that was cool, but then, like. The people say, well, now you say you work for Verizon. It depends on the audience, right? I remember so I had a board position for Towson university’s College of Business and Economics, and one of the board members was from McCormick, the Spice Company. And I remember she was like, well, you have a pedigree like we talking about because you work for AOL like you think that’s a pedigree, because every other conversation I had with people was like AOL, like my grandmother has an account, like still around.

[00:25:32.420] 

But when you say Verizon, people’s eyebrows kind of go up and they listen or it’s it’s it’s a brand that resonates as a leadership brand. And really, like in this pandemic environment, I’m very proud of the social responsibility that Verizon showed. I was going to ask Mike, just does it feel different being at AOL versus a much larger organization, world renowned Verizon? Parts of it are.

[00:25:57.290] 

I’ve always appreciated the autonomy. It’s a very ask for forgiveness before permission type environment. We’re given plenty of opportunity to fail in a calculated matter. Calculated failure is by far the greatest step to success that has changed. The ability to to implement change takes a little bit longer, right? Like with TechnoServe and Advertising.com. I remember I had an idea for an affiliate program that product was like, OK, what do you need? And then engineers built it in a week with Verizon.

[00:26:26.900] 

It’s one hundred and thirty six billion dollar company. Right. And not not too many things happen in a week, I’m guessing. Exactly. There’s very little instant gratification, but it’s done in the right manner. When we think about it’s a large company, it’s there’s a number of areas of focus. And so you have to sort of figure out what those pillars are and focus on those to ensure that you become leaders in specific areas and not a jack of all trades.

[00:26:52.500] 

We see, like in this industry, the jack of all trades just become less less competitive and relevant and so slower. But the process is better.

[00:27:00.770] 

And I like the direction that we’re going in, having been at AOL for a while and our paths crossing there as well, I should add, seeing the different iterations of that company. Can you talk us through what that was being on your side of that?

[00:27:17.660] 

I mean, I was jealous of the gravity office from day one. We had a very LA vibe to us. Main Street on Santa Monica, wetsuits on the ceiling and on the rooftop. I remember distinctly in January of 2000 being in a room at what’s now the Under Armour headquarters. It used to be the Proctor and Gamble plant in Baltimore, and the front door was a four by eight piece of plywood that had like a hard hat, mandatory site. And we had rented the space out ferbos saying, like, if we keep this up, everyone in this room is going to be a millionaire.

[00:27:55.890] 

You tell a twenty three year old kid that you’re like, yeah, everyone’s jazzed. We were just like we were working from like eight o’clock in the morning till six o’clock at night, have dinner, then work again till 10:00, you know, go to the bar, get home by midnight, get right back in. The thing that hasn’t changed for me is the culture in Baltimore, and that’s by far one of the most important pieces, because your culture is your lifeline.

[00:28:20.390] 

Right? And once the culture is compromised, the company is doomed to fail. And so that’s that’s been the constant in the sense of all these iterations. There were definitely high points and low points when Falko and Ron Grant took over the company. We’re basically hoping that the brand itself would steer us through. We saw guys like Google become more prominent. Facebook, DoubleClick was at that point, we sort of felt that we launched a company called Platform A that was a good umbrella company of a number of acquisitions we had.

[00:28:47.990] 

And we sat in this room and we saw the logo come out and you could just see the morale deflated. About a year or two later, Tim Armstrong came and God bless that guy. He came and just instilled energy and direction and hope. And I mean, he thought gravity, too, which is really cool. You saw that energy come back. But more importantly, he enabled leadership based on a geolocation so that you had it central, you had a headquarters, but at the same time, Baltimore was advertising.com.

[00:29:15.830] 

There’s still like I’m there. Twenty one years. But there’s guys and women and men have been there 10, 12, 15, 16 years. Right.

[00:29:24.140] 

And that’s it’s it’s representative of the fact that, like, we love what we do, but more importantly, we love who we’re working with and where we’re working. And so, like, have things changed? Yeah, of course. Right. Like some of my best friends no longer work with me. Right. They’ve gone on to bigger and better things. And like with Millennial, we started from folks from Advertising.com that we’ve got millennial. We’re like, hey, welcome back.

[00:29:46.420] 

Right. It was those relationships that that makes you want to keep doing this because you get to keep meeting people keep and as more people come in, like you bring them into this culture, they buy it.

[00:29:56.660] 

Right. And if you don’t buy in to watch it, you could be the smartest person in the world. It could be great. But if you don’t buy it and don’t fit in, go work somewhere else. We don’t need Toxicity. We don’t need a cancer that’s sort of like the the the most consistent piece, there’s leadership changes, there’s new products or shifts. But at the end of the day, like if you enjoy who you working with and you create an environment that’s supportive, collaborative, challenging and rewarding, you’re in good shape.

[00:30:26.300] 

And I think that’s what’s been most important through from the very start when it was four of us in the townhouse and we blew the twenty five hundred dollars on our company party at Ruby Tuesdays.

[00:30:37.610] 

And the next day might have been a little slow at the office, but it’s that same mentality where it’s like, just have fun with what you do. We could do it like you work hard, play hard, and you’re there to be a part of the team. There’s no individual success. It’s all about the collaboration and the collective success now.

[00:30:54.380] 

I mean, kind of talking about culture and teams now we’re dealing with coronavirus. And how has that been for you? Like, how has that affected your team or are there things you’re doing to make it make it like you’re in an office? Almost.

[00:31:08.420] 

We’ve done a very good job of creating an environment like an understanding environment where no one’s expected to be available in the same manner that were if we do something every morning called coffee talk, we all get together at nine o’clock every morning. And from nine to nine 15, we talk about non-work stuff. And if you talk about work stuff, get kicked off the call.

[00:31:28.250] 

It’s a way to just simply talk as a human being to someone else. But what’s come of that is just you realizing people are people and that sounds pretty stupid. But at the end of the day, you know, a lot of people’s workplace persona, you don’t understand their full life and so on. Our team, like we’re very close team. So that was more knowledge. But as you talk to your peers, you see, like I remember I was on the phone with the VP and her son comes running in the room.

[00:31:59.780] 

I’m sorry for what it’s like. We’re all dealing with the same stuff. And you see, like this personalization of your partners and your clients, your peers. And it’s it’s a rose and a very thick thornbush. And I think you start to get more tolerance and you start to get more appreciation just for who you’re talking to working with. I’m proud of my team and I’m proud of the organization as a whole. I think we’ve done a very good job of just extending resources, making sure people are doing as best they can.

[00:32:29.420] 

And in times where folks are struggling, you know, having that that leniency and that sympathy and empathy to be like I get it, this is not the norm and everything’s not OK and it’s OK that not OK. Right. We’re here to help and whatever you need.

[00:32:44.090] 

So kind of talking to twenty one years and all these different mergers and acquisitions and just changing. There’s also like issues that are always involved in advertising and whether it’s the death of the cookie that we’re kind of currently dealing with or things of the past, like how have you seen those types of things evolve over the years?

[00:33:04.610] 

I thought GDPR was going to bankrupt the economy.

[00:33:11.180] 

I appreciate the fact that there is a need for transparency. And the majority of the general public, and especially those that don’t work in programmatic, don’t fully grasp the power of data. Right. The power of identity and really what can be done when done properly. Right. It’s it’s to the benefit to the user when done maliciously. It opens up a number of avenues. And I think the protections that we’re seeing are put in place. They always have a load initial roar for what’s going to happen and who’s using my data.

[00:33:41.930] 

What’s happening now? I can’t do this now. I can’t do that. I think there’s somewhat of a normalization that follows the initial shock. Cromageddon, cookie less world is in it.

[00:33:55.430] 

I think the five other acronyms that have to do with identity, I think they’re going to materially change the way that we interact with each other, whether it’s on A, B, B or B to C basis and.

[00:34:11.710] 

You know, there’s a number of companies, Verizon, media included, that are preparing themselves for what this environment could look like, you never know how prepared you are until the environment actually happens. They have impacts, but there’s always, again, like that first emotion, that first shock wave relative to what the norm is. I do think that we’re moving in a direction that. The consumer and the consumers data are valued and should be protected. I’m all for that.

[00:34:38.730] 

I think what we’ll find is that it’s more about the convenience of today’s world and the way data shared and how people react to the inconvenience. There’s all these new mediums that people are being exposed to, that you have the the leadership and the shockwave and the normalization of, you know what? I have 17 streaming services. I probably need three, one hundred and seventy five apps on my phone I use four for them. Everyone pays attention to the bright, shiny object, but at the same time and take a step back and it becomes part of the way we think, the way we live, the way we work.

[00:35:13.110] 

I’m confident in the fact that the programatic industry is a multibillion dollar industry and more and more switching to online from brick and mortar and from linear television and whatever the case is, as we continue to move in that way, you have to do things to support the way that the human interactions and businesses are evolving. And if you continually try and do things that will significantly handicap them, people will understand that and they’ll make the proper concessions. I don’t think people should have to concede everything, but I think there’s a happy medium that will reach us through experience.

[00:35:49.710] 

Mike, we talked a lot about Verizon, AOL the industry I want to ask, what’s your typical day look like? What’s the mike day look like? Pre or post covid?

[00:36:05.160] 

Let’s say let’s say during covid. I don’t know that we’re in a post yet. That’s fair. So I typically start the day somewhere between six and seven o’clock in the morning. Some days I will head out to the golf course and tee off around six forty five and get nine holes in and be home and ready to go by eight 30 other days. I’ll go out for a walk just to kind of clear my head and get moving. I’m on the computer on eight thirty and I typically use the first fifteen to thirty minutes to prioritize what do I need to get accomplished today.

[00:36:34.680] 

What meetings do I have? Am I prepared to ensure that nothing catches me by surprise? Nine o’clock we do our coffee talk and that’s done by about nine forty- nine fifteen and then from nine fifteen to about nine thirty. I have fifteen minutes. I’ll go and look at my performance reports. All right. Where are we to go. What changes have occurred essentially like are there any red flags or anomalies that we need to take care of. Are there any emails in my inbox that have like a screaming siren in the subject line or exclamation point?

[00:37:04.200] 

And then it’s typically there’s a number of meetings. So Monday are the majority of like our team meetings. So meetings with my boss in his lead, I have one on ones with each of my lead once a week, a number of product meetings, my role currently. Is working with our owned and operated brands and third party partners.

[00:37:23.290] 

I’m probably on the phone or in meetings about 50 percent of the time, and we’re talking about the performance opportunities to bring in like third parties for content partnerships or cobranded opportunities, looking at new business in that 50 percent of the day where its meetings are, these ones that you can generally know what to expect or some of these more ad hoc or. Most are planned.

[00:37:48.460] 

Like, my role is to do a lot of vetting as well, to explore opportunities. And if it’s something that we want to pursue, I’ve been spending a lot of time on identity as well. So working with our product team on Verizon Media is doing for that plenty of time with accounting and finance to ensure like, hey, here’s pacing a typical day is doesn’t happen on a typical day is the fact that it could go any any different way. And there’s always a fire drill.

[00:38:13.960] 

So yesterday there was a minor fire drill that fortunately we were able to put out pretty quickly. But honestly, I would say 50 percent of my time is speaking with partners, whether they’re internal or external. Twenty five percent of the time, it’s just internal meetings, whether it’s revenue, finance, accounting goals and such. And then you have your one on ones and the more team interface. I actually get time to work every once in a while, too.

[00:38:37.400] 

So between rounds of golf, right?

[00:38:40.600] 

Yes. Yeah. Typically at night watching television, I’ll pick my phone up and just say, oh, here’s the 30 emails  I’m supposed to get through today, kind of leave with this one.

[00:38:51.730] 

So somebody’s looking to get into our industry of ADTECH digital advertising. Is there any advice that you give somebody today that might help them. Be humble.

[00:39:02.860] 

Quite honestly, and I say that because, you know, when when I was younger at twenty one and twenty two, I didn’t even realize you could copy it, cut and paste from one email to another. I thought it was an all one document. They didn’t teach that in college.

[00:39:17.620] 

And so if you can imagine. But my, my technical prowess was really poor. Kids and undergrads today are coming from a far more learned environment where technology has been part of their upbringing and part of their schooling, part of their part of them. I think there’s an opportunity to to harness that knowledge. But at the same time, you have to understand that you don’t know everything. You have to find an opportunity where you can apply what you bring to the table.

[00:39:43.780] 

And I mean that in the sense of like if I’m talking to a candidate, how can you benefit what this company is doing, what experience you bring? Like, have you built an app? Are you an influencer? What are the things that you’re doing that makes you stand apart from any other candidate? And how can you leverage that to benefit yourself and the company in this role that you want? And I think that that humility and humbleness and really like the willingness to kind of to just learn is is important because I mean, I’ve been in this space.

[00:40:14.020] 

You guys have been in this space just as long. A lot of stuff has changed in the past year, two years, five years, 10 years. And so I can only imagine what’s going to happen. I kind of have this, like, fear of you talk to your parents, and their like wheres the key?

[00:40:31.480] 

I don’t want to be that person in ten or 15 years when I’m like, wait, what?

[00:40:37.720] 

I thought I was going to control alt delete it’s not there anymore. So, yeah, I think the humbleness and humility and understanding that it takes time. People need to understand. They need to master their role. So they built a solid foundation. So as they ascend within an organization and their career, there aren’t holes, because if there’s holes in the foundations, you continue to develop based on what your strengths are. If you’ve done nothing to strengthen the opportunities and the weaknesses, you’re going to get exposed.

[00:41:05.770] 

And that’s just that’s a way to topple over in the future. And I see a lot of that happening where whether it’s entitlement or just false expectations based on stories that you can read, like take your time, figure out what you’re doing, do it well, and then do the next thing. Awesome.

[00:41:22.390] 

Mike, it was great chatting with you today. I know I learned a lot, and I really appreciate your time.

[00:41:29.920] 

Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you guys. And Jeff, it’s always good to see you, man. Likewise. See you guys, too. It’s not just Jeff, but I got I got a good history with Jeff. Yeah, no, of course.

[00:41:43.000] 

No, it’s really nice to meet you and thanks for spending some time with us today.

[00:41:47.140] 

My pleasure. Well, that was a fantastic conversation with Mike, I hope everybody learned a little bit of something. I know I did. It was great chatting with him. And again, I really appreciate Mike for joining us on the call. Cheers to that.

[00:42:02.630] 

A reminder for everybody that the links for the Reddit threads we discussed will be in the show notes if you want to check them out afterwards. Thank you again for everyone who made it this far, for the Freestar Blood, Sweat and CPMs podcast. If you do have a spare moment, please check us out on Google Play or iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and leave us for review and subscribe to make sure that you get all of this high quality content directly into your ears.

[00:42:28.700] 

For feedback or suggestions for guests, you can reach us at a podcast at Freestar.com Special. Thanks to Matt Heinlein for our music and to Caroline Romano and Paolo Battista for helping with editing and production and making sure that people know this podcast exists until next time. Don’t forget to add your macros. Later, alligator.

[00:43:01.440] 

And I think probably the other problem here is, you know, this person’s looking for Ad ops talent, but I think we have all the best startups talent at Freestar anyways. I mean, we got you, right?

[00:43:15.180] 

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Me, we have Jeff. Hey hey. So here’s the part of the show where we toot our own horn. So yeah, I like.

[00:43:36.750] 

Connie and Carrie, Tommy and Matt and Kyle.


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