The Transformation Series: Carly Stein
When I graduated college, I landed the dream job. I got to work with a bunch of 20-somethings at a media agency, getting taken out to restaurants I could never afford, buying ad spots on the shows that I loved for brands that I knew. I even tweeted at the time (when hashtags were still cool), “I need to watch an episode of every new tv show to do my job well. #roughlife #bestjobever”.
Of course it wasn’t all fun and vendor happy hours. My nightly routine was timing exactly when I needed to stop working in order to run from my office to the Metro station, and get a seat on the last train back to my parents’ house in the suburbs with only 1 minute to spare. While it has always been in my nature, this job made me want to work harder than I ever had before.I was getting a peek behind the curtain of what I had always taken for granted as a consumer. I was starting to understand the intricacies of media planning and buying and why there was a whole industry devoted to it. Even more exciting, I was increasingly being given the trust and autonomy to make investment decisions that would impact my clients’ business.
After 4.5 years learning the linear TV landscape, navigating the crazy world of digital video content consumption, and trying to piece together a holistic investment strategy for my clients, I was ready for a change. While I loved that my work was getting increasingly more interesting, the data-driven investment opportunities (what I considered to be the fun part) were just too small a part of my job. We had the token network data-driven linear deals to use as bright shiny objects in our Upfront presentations, but otherwise it was a lot of the same — fighting for 2% more units in primetime, or exactly three units of This is Us simply because that is what we bought last year and was considered the most “premium”. I wanted my primary focus to be on building holistic data-driven solutions for our clients, not for it to be a secondary item to check the box with my clients. This is when an opportunity at VideoAmp presented itself.
If I can be honest, I hadn’t really heard of VideoAmp. I knew the basics — they were a measurement/data/technology company that was supposed to help agency teams do their job better, but that was the extent of my knowledge. However, after interviewing with various VideoAmp employees, I was sold on the solutions they were building: a way to more effectively allocate linear TV spend to reach target customers and measure the effectiveness of these decisions. This sounded great, and exactly where I wanted to be.
I was hired at VideoAmp to help drive adoption of audience-based TV planning and measurement solutions for an agency holding company. As simple as that sounds, I was joining an organization that was in the process of building industry-changing products from a vision….with no playbook on how to do this. While this was overwhelming at first, after leaving a role that I could do in my sleep, I can confidently say that I have never learned or grown more professionally than I did in my first year at VideoAmp. I had joined an organization that was scrappy, innovative, and went to the ends of the earth, it seemed, to bring customers on a journey with us to change an industry that was built on legacy metrics. Coming from an Investment team, I understood the resistance to going on this journey. It’s not that simple to overhaul processes or to throw away benchmarks our clients have been making decisions off of for decades. But bit by bit, we have progressed on this journey to transform the way brands invest their media dollars to more effectively connect with target customers.
While being sold on the mission was important, my growth at VideoAmp starts and ends with the people. When I was just 4 months into my role, several of us who hadn’t met in person traveled to New York for a project and were out for drinks. I distinctly remember one of my colleagues saying with a straight face, “I love my job.” I thought it was a little weird at the time. Happy Hours are the place where you complain about your job with your coworkers, right? Not talk about how great it is? As I got to know him and many more of my colleagues at VideoAmp, I learned that this was the norm. I had joined a company where I would be lucky enough to spend every day collaborating with, doing intensive workouts with, and learning from a group of people across all disciplines who are willing to challenge you and are incredibly passionate about our mission and their role in getting us there. The people at VideoAmp, to this day, are what have inspired and motivated me to be all in.