Be a sponge. Don’t ever stop learning.
That’s the key advice to new entrants in the ad business from industry veteran Wendy Harris Millard, president and COO of media consultancy MediaLink. “Be ever the student. Don’t ever stop understanding the broader context you are working in. Keep studying the industry,” she says, sharing with Beet.TV her wisdom for newcomers. Millard is deeply involved in education in the industry, having served as Chairman of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, as well as having held numerous leadership roles at industry associations.
A passionate advocate of the opportunities in advertising, she believes now is an ideal time to enter the business. “The exposure is incredible. We are living convergence. It is Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley and Hollywood and Wall Street,” she says. “The volume and velocity of the change is stunning. There are entrepreneurial opportunities in large and small companies. I can’t imagine a better industry.”
However, the industry needs to make improvements especially in better communication between men and women. “I was ten years after Mad Men, but it was very tough like that. It is tough today but in a different way. One of the biggest blockages for women to get through that ceiling is that the language of men and women is very different. By and large, it is men that are running businesses. And if we don’t get on the same page with communication it makes it that much more difficult…Is communication better? Yes. But did I think it would be better faster? I did.”
Millard brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at the strategic advisory firm, with a long and varied career in the ad business that has spanned stints as president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. as well as chief sales officer at Yahoo. During her time at the tech giant, she led ad revenue growth in six years to $6 billion from $700 million.
More industry change will come in the next five years with the growth in native advertising and branded content, she predicts. Those transformations are helping advertising to evolve from a less interruptive model to a more conversational one. “We are starting to see that as brands begin to message but in a very different way from ads. Facebook and Twitter are the drivers of a different look of what advertising really means.”
This segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP.
Millard was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. The interview took place in February in New York, in the MediaLink offices.