April 13, 2010

A Conversation with Sarah Fay in wwwLand, Part 2


By Wendy McHale

We began a 3-day series yesterday on Sarah Fay's views and experiences to-date in wwwLand; as relayed to editor Tim McHale in a conversation they had right after the new year.

Ms. Fay is now playing advisory roles and serving on the boards of several companies. Part 2 of their exchange today focuses on companies she is helping and why they're worth her attention.

Alice voiced her confusion of Wonderland's strange customs during her adventure, "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change." Sarah's insights provide the clarity that eluded Alice in her digital rabbit hole. Ms. Fay's plans make perfect sense!

Tim: What projects are you involved with now?

Sarah: I've begun playing advisory roles and serving on the boards of several companies.

Tim: Sounds interesting.

Sarah: I'm really enjoying it. I would like to make this my occupation for the next couple of years if not longer.

Tim: How is it different than corporate?

Sarah: It gives me more flexibility to be involved with multiple businesses and the ability to cross pollinate ideas and make connections across my network of colleagues and friends.

Tim: Who are the companies you're working with?

Sarah: Good question. Let me begin with Netshelter. It's a vertical media network which recently passed CNET to become the #1 tech news web property online.

Tim: Wow!


Sarah: I enjoy working with its founders, Peyman and Pirouz Nilforoush. They are brothers and are incredibly intelligent and passionate about their business. They're young and have achieved so much already. The company feels very much like the company I was a part of in my high tech selling days at M&T. There's a feeling that nothing's impossible.


Tim: Why should the industry take note of them?

Sarah: For one thing, Netshelter just made it onto comScore's top 20 web properties, with an estimated audience that's already more than 100 million!

Tim: Wow! What others?

Sarah: X+1

Tim: Really... tell me about that. The buzz is quite high about them. I love the name.


Sarah: X+1 is the market leader in predictive optimization technology for online media campaigns. Data is the new black!

Tim: LOL!

Sarah: Data management is becoming "the" key ingredient to planning and managing effective advertising programs. X+1 is bringing the promise of delivering "the right message to the right person at the right time" to life through patented technology.

Tim: Who do you work with?


Sarah: I'm on the Board of Directors. John Nardone is X+1's CEO. He's is a former colleague of mine from Aegis, as is the CRO, Jason Shulman - it is always great to re-create working relationships from the past.

Tim: Two very talented guys. Anything in search?

Sarah: Interesting you mentioned that. I am also sitting on the board of a company called Searchandise. It's the first online media network within the retail eCommerce environment. Searchandise gives product manufacturers the ability to now buy media and search keyword inventory on retail web sites; to help them create visibility for their products closer to the consumer's intended purchase. It's very similar to the way that merchandising works in physical retail environments. The retailers also win by monetizing traffic on their sites.


Tim: Interesting.

Sarah: Vertical search is predicted to be a significant growth area in the media market, and this is a sweet and untouched area for a new kind of search and media inventory to emerge.

Tim: Who runs the company?

Sarah: Searchandise's CEO John Federman is an old friend and business colleague - we go back to when he was the Associate Publisher at PC Week and I was typing insertion orders!

Tim: LOL! Are you doing anything on an industry level?

Sarah: Yes, I'm Chairing the Board for DMG's Digital Media Sector.

Tim: Really?

Sarah: As you know DMG is the largest event company in the digital marketing space. It owns ad:tech, the iMedia Summits and the CMO Summits.


Tim: I love ad:tech and have been to more iMedia Summits than I can practically remember. Is there anything new under the hood that you could tell us about?

Sarah: Definitely. DMG is creating a unified strategy that leverages the whole organization to be greater than the sum of its parts. This is a fun one, and I have the privilege to be working with some of the biggest influencers in the industry, who have joined the board. I also love working with the DMG family, and they have felt exactly like that to me. In 2010, DMG will be taking its business to an entirely new level, which is sure to have an effect on the entire digital marketplace. The Chairman role at this company is a very big honor for me!

Tim: Congratulations! Who else are you providing counsel and guidance to?

Sarah: I'm working with a company called Better Advertising.

Tim: What do they do?


Sarah: If your readers are tuned in to the noise that the FTC is starting to make about behavioral advertising, I expect they'll sense the urgency that the digital advertising marketplace is now feeling on this issue. We need to work closely to create a model for best practices in this space.

Tim: Example?

Sarah: There are some unpopular conceptions about what could be done with behavioral data collected by more and more data technologies in the marketplace. Concern is being expressed by the government and by consumers. The industry needs to avoid regulation here, because behavioral advertising represents significant revenues and opportunity for the digital marketplace.

Tim: That's true.

Sarah: Better Advertising has created a technology platform that offers transparency around how data is being used in any given advertising campaign.

Tim: Interesting.

Sarah: This provides a solution for brands and web sites that want to engender trust with the consumer, and demonstrate compliance to industry best practices in behavioral advertising. I've only just started to understand how big this issue is - enormous!

Tim: Agreed. Our interview with Alan Chapell last week brought attention to this in a way we never delved into before.


Sarah: We're all on the same page. Warburg Pincus is backing Better Advertising. I've learned so much working with CEO, Scott Meyer and his team, who are some of the smartest people in the industry - from Tacoda, Engage, DoubleClick and Macromedia, among others.

Tim: Great companies and great leaders.

Sarah: The execs associated with these companies practically invented behavioral targeting in the first place!

Tim: Sounds great. Who else?

Sarah: I'd like to talk about Good Health Advertising.

Tim: Okay.

Sarah: This company is a vertical network in the health space that specializes in reaching audiences interested in wellness information and specific health conditions.


Tim: What market does it serve?

Sarah: Say you're a pharma company that markets medication for specific conditions. Right now you can never get enough condition specific inventory.

Tim: Right.

Sarah: Good Health Advertising has access to web site inventory that focuses on specific conditions - many of them in the long tail of media. They also use behavioral advertising technology that helps advertisers reach these audiences in other places.

Tim: Sounds like they're on to something. Who do you work with there?

Sarah: Bill Jennings, the CEO is another old friend from way back when he was running sales at Flycast, and I was getting the online media business started at Carat.

Tim: Small world. Who else?

Sarah: EDS which is short for Email Data Source.

Tim: Right. Tell us about it.

Sarah: I could spend a long time telling you about this service. But top-line, EDS is the only research tool that gives marketers insight to the competitive activities of email marketers and the effect these campaigns have on web site traffic.


Tim: Got it.

Sarah: Think of it as Nielsen for email marketing. With the click of a button, you can see exactly what your competitors' email programs look like - the creative messaging, as well as exactly what lists are being used - which is incredibly useful in trumping promotional offers and such.

Tim: What's going on at EDS that you can share with us?

Sarah: Just recently, EDS launched a tool that tracks brand messaging on Twitter. This tracks the reach of promotional offers which are extended through consumers' re-tweets and email messages.

Tim: Twitter, I've heard of them!

Sarah: EDS can tell marketers how one Twitter promotion compared to another in traffic generated. EDS verifies the enormity of the power of Twitter - the results being generated by Twitter promotions are more substantial than I ever guessed. The founder of EDS, Bill McCloskey is a friend and entrepreneur from the early days of the internet - he founded "The 100 Club" an email community of 100 original internet business influencers, and he spent his time educating the industry with his Emerging Markets business in the late nineties and early 2000's.

Tim: Bill's great. A consummate professional. Who else?


Sarah: Catalyst:SF.

Tim: Know them well. We just began running Corey Treffiletti's "Digital Influentials newsletter in 2010.

Sarah: So you know that I have a history of working with several of their execs: John Durham, Cory Treffiletti, Jim Nichols, Chris Arens, Cody Duval, and others.

Tim: An all star team.

Sarah: For sure. They like to say they are the first "Non-agency" in a post agency world! They're providing strategic consulting services to both DMG and Better Advertising, so I have had the opportunity to work directly with them. The Catalyst approach begins with product positioning in the guidance they provide. Above all things today that's the part to get right. And they're growing quickly.

Tim: Anything new to report?

Sarah: As you know, Catalyst is San Francisco-based but they've just opened a New York office. Again, the people involved and our history together makes it really fun for me to be involved with the company!

Tim: Very nice. Who else?

Sarah: I'm still on the industry boards of the Ad Club and MITX in my home town of Boston, so I'm staying in the mix with my own community - it is great to have the time to do that.

Tim: Sounds though like you're still pretty busy.

Sarah: Yes, but I'm not traveling half as much as I did when I was at Aegis, so I can be a better mom to my 16 year old, Grace, which I'm happy to now say is my very top priority!


Stay tuned to Part 3, tomorrow as Sarah talks about breathing time, social media and advice to college graduates.

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