Why did you get in to advertising? For Brian Lesser, it was because his dad showed him the ropes. Now Lesser runs WPP-owned Xaxis, one of the technology companies helping make advertising more targeted and more relevant.
“When I was a kid, my father ran advertising agencies … I always liked the commercials better than the programming on television,” Lesser tells Beet.TV in this video interview.
“When my father had ‘Take your kid to work’ day, I would go in and meet his colleagues at the advertising agencies. I distinctly remember thinking, ‘This is the coolest job in the world’. Advertising agencies then were the hottest business, in the 80s. His colleagues were the smartest, wittiest, funniest people I knew. I grew up thinking, ‘I want to be in advertising just like my dad’.”
In a sense, that’s just what Lesser has done. Launched by WPP and GroupM in 11 countries across North America, Europe and Australia in June 2011, Xaxis is a global digital media platform that connects advertisers and publishers to audiences across all addressable channels.
In short, Xaxis is driving forward “programmatic” advertising, that thorny collection of technology platforms that help better target, plan and trade online advertising.
Xaxis is not Lesser’s first advertising foray, of course. In 2008, he created Media Innovation Group, an integrated data management, targeting and ad delivery platform for media agencies.
But things weren’t always so upbeat. “In 2001, all of that came crashing down and I lost my job,” Lesser says. That job was as consultant to ill-fated digital ad group iXL, which bit the dust in the dot.com bust but which ended up part of Razorfish.
“It felt like all the momentum we built up came crashing down,” Lesser remembers. “But I turned that in to an opportunity – I decided it was a good time to go back to business school. By the time I good out, things had partially recovered.”
Now Lesser believes today’s college-leavers should look to the ad industry for a great career journey.
“In the early 90s, everyone wanted to be an investment banker – that’s not the case anymore,” he tells Beet.TV. “People in school are looking for jobs where they feel they can do the job, make lots of money and be around smart people.
“There’s no better industry than the programmatic industry to do that. These are some of the smartest people in the world, it’s a very fast-changing environment, we’re literally reinventing the advertising business.”
Lesser was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. This video is part of a series titled the Media Revolutionaries, produced by Beet.TV and sponsored by Xaxis and AOL Please find the series videos here.