The media buying team is the largest and most profitable department at digital marketing agency Hawke Media. It’s also diverse.
The media buyers here represent more than 10 different nations. They come not just from digital marketing, but also sales, account management, actuarial science, statistics, economics, consulting and more.
“There isn’t a cookie-cutter version of a media buyer at Hawke, which is a major strength of ours,” said Spencer Scheinert, media buying expert. “It enables a diverse range of ideas to be shared and, in turn, it allows for more creativity to be expressed — both in terms of actual creative and in the way we execute paid media strategies.”
We met with the team to learn how they collaborate with Hawke’s creatives and strategists to devise high-impact media strategies.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2014.
THE COMPANY: A full-service outsourced CMO and digital advertising agency based in Santa Monica, CA.
THE TEAM: Identifies the best digital paid mediums to reach clients’ target customers, then finds ways to produce a desired result to grow brands.
IDEAL CANDIDATE: Passionate, curious and eager to learn. One team member advised: “Be tough but fun.”
COOL PERKS: Biweekly massages, annual company trip, dog-friendly office.
Jeeyan Rostam-Abadi, Director of Media Buying
Rostam-Abadi oversees Hawke’s largest department, working with 25-plus individuals. His responsibilities include hiring, training, conflict management, quality assurance and modifying internal processes to adapt to changes in the market.
BEYOND WORK: Rostam-Abadi loves to listen to and create music.
What are the qualities of a great media buyer?
Rostam-Abadi: Great media buyers are positive, analytical, data-driven, innovative, receptive to new ideas and tough. They can identify opportunities in real-time to help optimize a budget and grow and scale an account’s spend. They should understand that results and returns don’t happen at the snap of a finger. Sometimes, it’s best to be patient, collect significant samples of data and manage an account according to reason — as opposed to emotion or pressure from a client or agent.
How closely do you work with the creatives?
Rostam-Abadi: Very closely. Media buying is where the right and left brain collide, particularly in paid social media platforms. A large component of a campaign’s creativity is about harmonizing the messaging and visual components of an ad placement.
Media buying is where the right and left brain collide.”
How do you foster a positive team culture?
Rostam-Abadi: By giving everyone a voice and speaking to the individual. When everyone feels like they are heard and that they are operating in an environment that is inclusive, sensitive and responsive to their needs, it boosts morale and makes our organization a great place to work.
What do you do for fun as a team?
Rostam-Abadi: We try our best to have team functions at least twice a month. This includes happy hours, dinners, surprise picnics and, when things are going well, we have game nights during our team meetings. And then there’s Taco Tuesday.
Esi Mensah, Media Buyer
“My job, in most cases, is to make people money,” Mensah enthused. In her role, she drives traffic to businesses via paid advertisements and uses high-level ad strategy to get users to complete a desired action based on clients’ business needs.
BEYOND WORK: Mensah has a YouTube channel featuring her videos encouraging others to chase their dreams.
How does your team establish relationships with important channel owners?
Mensah: I don’t know about you, but cracking jokes always works for me. It’s an easy reminder that, although we have an important job to do, we can have fun, too. As long as you can prove that you have the necessary skill set, things don’t always have to be so serious.
As long as you can prove that you have the necessary skill set, things don’t always have to be so serious.”
What's the key to a great media buy strategy?
Mensah: You’ll be surprised how many entrepreneurs don’t consider the simple idea I’m about to reveal: The key to having a great media buy strategy is having a top-, middle- and bottom-of-funnel strategy. If you can decipher where the user is in a buyer journey, and create ads catered to that part of the funnel, you will do well. The worst thing you could do is treat all users in the funnel the same — or have the same expectations for all users.
What's a formidable industry challenge for media buyers today? How do you overcome it?
Mensah: The industry changes so fast. What worked a year ago, or even six months ago, might not work as well today. Make sure you’re constantly reading articles, watching webinars and attending workshops and events so that you stay abreast of industry trends.
Describe the ideal candidate for this team.
Mensah: Someone who is assertive and dedicated, but knows when to crack a joke. When you’re spending a client’s budget, you often have to deal with anxious or nervous clients. So you have to balance confidence in your strategy with an ability to keep the mood light.
Sometimes, if you’ve had a hard day, it can filter into your mood. This is when being able to laugh comes in handy. In other words, be tough but fun!
Adi Govindarajan, Media Buyer
Govindarajan strategizes, executes and optimizes paid media initiatives for diverse clients across platforms. “Some businesses are looking for lead-gen,” he said. “Some are looking for direct e-commerce conversions. Some are trying to drive awareness. And each of these businesses needs a completely bespoke media plan, tailored to their needs.”
BEYOND WORK: A self-confessed sci-fi/fantasy nerd, Govindarajan said he loves “pretty much anything that has the word, ‘Star,’ in it.”
What's the key to a great media buy strategy?
Govindarajan: The most important element is the bottom line. What is your true goal? And what kind of results will you need to achieve that? If it’s e-commerce, then it’s important to go beyond total revenue and CPA to identify the products you need to sell, at what cost and volume, to achieve the most gross profit. If it’s a lead-gen, it’s important to identify which generated leads are converting to your overall goal, as well as what kind of paid media they’ll interact with at the bottom of the funnel to get there.
What's a big industry challenge for media buyers today?
Govindarajan: Attribution. Everyone seems to be doing more to get more visibility and yet, it seems like we’re operating more blindly than ever. Different marketing strategies need different solutions for this, but one step we take is to be as transparent as possible in the accuracy of our reporting. In addition, we report out of multiple platforms.
What's the next frontier for media buying?
Govindarajan: I really believe that the next frontier for paid advertising is the mission to create a truly native experience for users. I think this will involve a combination of increased visibility and automated artificial intelligence. Once that’s happened, media buyers will be able to execute more robust campaigns with better engagement and more complete conversion data.
[S]omeone does or says something absolutely insane yet totally brilliant. And, suddenly, you’re completely motivated again.”
How do people succeed and stay motivated on this team?
Govindarajan: You need to be absolutely invested in helping your client and bettering yourself. Once you have that, you’ll be able to solve all kinds of problems creatively. Working here is unique because, right when something goes wrong and you’re wrecked from putting out fires all week, someone does or says something absolutely insane yet totally brilliant. And, suddenly, you’re completely motivated again.
Spencer Scheinert, Media Buying Expert
Scheinert uses data and market research to discover and create audiences for his clients, while also testing what they best respond to. Week after week, he relays this data back to clients, collaborating to move brands forward.
BEYOND WORK: Scheinert enjoys the culture and community of music events.
What are the qualities of a great media buyer?
Scheinert: The ability to be both analytical and bold. A great media buyer can read the data and say, “Yeah, that’s smashing it because X reason,” and also be brave enough to say, “Cool, it’s smashing it because X, so let’s try adding Y element or refining targeting further to smash it even more!”
How closely do you work with your strategists?
Scheinert: One of the first conversations I have every day is with Jacob, the strategist I work with. It’s half banter and half pumping each other up about next steps for our accounts together. I value this makeshift ritual a lot. Even if we don’t go in-depth about execution, it helps us align on what’s going well. This positivity leaks into the rest of our shared accounts and helps us steer client relationships.
There isn’t a cookie-cutter version of a media buyer at Hawke, which is a major strength of ours.”
What are media buyers' backgrounds here?
Scheinert: Super diverse: There isn’t a cookie-cutter version of a media buyer at Hawke, which is a major strength of ours. It enables a diverse range of ideas to be shared and, in turn, it allows for more creativity to be expressed — both in terms of actual creative and in the way we execute paid media strategies.