Why I Joined MediaMath

October 12, 2015 — by Joanna O'Connell

Today marks my first official day as the new Chief Marketing Officer at MediaMath. And boy did I pick a good time to join. The company moved into 4 World Trade Center last week, giving me sweeping views of New York Harbor every time I walk into the kitchen (which is often). How can you not be inspired in a space like this?

But, more seriously, why did I make this huge career change, from an analyst role in which I assessed the ad tech landscape from afar, to CMO of a 750-person ad tech company that’s deep in the programmatic landscape day in and day out?

There are a few reasons, but the first has its genesis in my agency days. I’ve been in the space for 15 years, but back in 2007, when I was Media Supervisor at Razorfish, I met Joe Zawadzki and Erich Wasserman. MediaMath was the first DSP I’d ever encountered. The concept of buying media in the way Joe and Erich described (think impression-level buying, de-averaged pricing, tech-driven, real-time decisioning) struck me as revolutionary—in a REALLY BIG AND AMAZING WAY—and it totally changed the course of my career (I built one of the first trading desks, ATOM Systems, based on that vision). Today, when I look at MediaMath, I’m thrilled to say that both Joe and Erich have stayed true to that original mission and passion I experienced in those early days, and have grown MediaMath to be a market leader.

Second, I’ve been a research analyst for five years, first with Forrester Research, then as the founding member of AdExchanger Research. When you’re a research analyst for that long, it can start to feel a little theoretical, removed from the realities of the market. In a space that’s changing so quickly, I started feeling that it was a problem to be that far away. I wanted to get my hands back into what was really happening. I wanted to immerse myself in it.

Third, I like change. My life is one of constant change. I’m used to change. And as a career move, this is a big one. To that end, it strikes me as a great time to be at MediaMath because it feels like everyone is ready to think about things in a new way. I’m coming in at a time where things are changing in a useful direction—and I want to harness that energy of change.

What do I hope to bring to MediaMath? I want to tell our story. I want to hear from all of the different folks internally what you believe MediaMath is, help frame what I learn— and what I believe myself—around a unified vision, and shout it to the world. In the beginning, it’s just going to mean talking to everyone, listening and learning. I’m going to rely on all of the people here who are experts at what they do. I believe my job is to work with the entire organization to make their jobs easier for them to do while being an internal and external voice for marketing at MediaMath.

I remember when I was at Razorfish, I felt like I was changing the world. I want to help the entire team at MediaMath feel the same way. It’s only inning three of a nine-inning game. There’s so much room to grow in this space and as a company. I am excited about the energy that I’ve felt since before I even said “Yes” to the CMO role. The energy I’ve felt in the company and about my joining—it’s infectious. I am going to work with excited, enthusiastic people who are super smart, and I can’t wait to learn from them everyday.

Joanna O'Connell

Joanna joins MediaMath from AdExchanger where she was the founding member of the AdExchanger Research practice, developing syndicated primary research in the areas of programmatic advertising and audience targeting, and serving as an expert partner to marketers, agencies, publishers and advertising and marketing technology companies. Prior to AdExchanger, Joanna spent three years at Forrester Research, serving as Principal Analyst. Joanna has more than 15 years of experience in the marketing leadership industry. She started at digital advertising agency Avenue A in New York and was a founding member of Razorfish's ATOM Systems agency trading desk. More recently, she ran brand relations for the Audience on Demand practice at VivaKi, helping advertising clients target and optimize broad-reaching interactive campaigns. Joanna graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in psychology. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with departmental and general honors.

  • Rachel Meranus

    Joanna – congratulations! MediaMath is incredibly lucky to have you on board. Your expertise and eye to the industry will be critical to their next chapter. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to all you will accomplish. Best, Rachel

  • Dina Gowar

    Congratulations Joanna. You have joined a fantastic team that we have the pleasure of working with, and know you will help them get to even greater heights!