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ARF @ CES 2015

Extraordinariness at CES Convention Center with Lisa Donahue of Starcom USA, Wenda Harris Millard of MediaLink and Mari Kim Novak of Rubicon Project

“Extraordinariness” is a quote from Wenda Harris Millard, President and COO of MediaLink LLC describing how technology is changing everything for everyone. This is another in The ARF blog series working to bring CES to your desktop and to connect through comments from the leaders attending the Consumer Electronics Show.



Wenda went on to describe the overall importance of CES is marketers needing to understand the changes in consumer behavior. And it happening here in Las Vegas at this show because those changes are so tied up with technology.

Mari Kim Novak Chief Marketing Officer at Rubicon Project agrees. She began attending CES from a technology POV as part of Microsoft. Today she sees the importance of CES as the “collision” of consumer needs, technology and media and brands.


Asked “how advertising works today?” by our CEO, Gayle Fuguitt, Mari Kim described the need to successfully interweave your brand message to the consumer through today’s technology. And as such the growing importance of Brands to find technology partners to share platforms and data.

Lisa Donahue, CEO at Starcom USA, also tackled “how advertising works today?” She first clarified that it is “messaging” more than just advertising. Emphasizing how overall content and integration is communication currency today. Lisa sees customization and personalization the end of all this convergence. Messaging has always been about helping consumers meet or fulfill their needs. CES isn’t just about the gadgets and gizmos. It’s how the devices deliver data insights to make us more aware of individual consumer needs and then finding a way to customize at scale individual messaging right back.

To Mari Kim, this 1:1 promise that we’ve been discussing about for years is “moving from talk to reality!”

Wenda Harris Millard of MediaLink stated it beautifully . . . it will all hinge on insight. She describes that the industry was too quick to call “data the new black”. Actually, “insight is the new black”. She sees this manifesting in communication moving from just the art of persuasion to “the art AND science of persuasion AND participation” seamless integrating the insight from data and the craft of messaging plus engaging as well as communicating. Wenda predicts that the CMO and the CIO will remain two jobs (not one individual). But leaders that will be joined at the hip, work closer together than ever and the successful ones will have an appreciation for each other’s skills and their interdependence.

In fact, Wenda chided the industry a bit for making the complicated even more complicated she is hoping the industry can get on the same page — to “collaborate on moving the business forward”. Better appreciating each skill set and participating together.

When asked about her “theme for 2015”, Lisa of Starcom USA spoke about our industry finding a way to work together to simplify things and deal in common currencies. She fears that we made things so complex that marketers fear moving forward and taking risks.

Lisa elaborated on moving forward. She discussed about how her role as CEO of Starcom USA, allows her to work closely with new and traditional partners. What she observes from the new partners is less fear of “right or wrong”. That amount and constant inflow of data allows us to course correct. So it is not about just being “right”. But making the best decision with the information at hand and having the agility to adjust if new information arises.

When asked about the skills needed for this to work, Lisa described an explosion for those who possess a “T-shaped” skill set. That leaders will have to both think horizontally to find connections across disciplines but maintain a vertical expertise in their knowledge area.

We’ll wrap this segment up with Mari Kim of Rubicon Project’s advice at the intersection

of it all . . . have curiosity and be fearless!