What's It Like To Be A True Marketing Geek? John Nardone Knows

Have you ever wondered who had a hand in posting the first ad on the Internet, or what it felt like to receive the first targeted ad online? John Nardone, CEO of [x+1], describes himself as a "marketing geek" who became addicted to the "thrill of innovation." As part of the Internet in the early days, many of his projects were the first of their kind. According to Nardone, "I put the first video ad on the Internet, and the first ad online with sound."

He claims he also received the first targeted ad delivery -- one from DoubleClick targeted Nardone with a congratulatory ad for having twins. That targeted ad was the initial trial of DoubleClick's Boomerang technology, says Nardone. That's when he realized that the art of building an online marketing campaign needed more science, such as using statistical analysis for targeted ads to increase the likelihood of conversion. He would soon discover a way to bring math, statistics and modeling into the equation, helping marketers who had traditionally made choices by the seat of their pants.



Technology has become even smarter since 1994. And as we head into 2010, the science of combining the information marketers know about customers in the offline world with online data to serve up ads based on predictive analysis will only improve.

Call it predictive analytics or behavioral targeting -- it doesn't matter. Technology continues to advance at [x+1], the company Nardone runs. It's based on predictive marketing, which aims to maximize the ROI of Web sites and digital media using patented targeting technology called a predictive optimization engine. This tool enables automated, real-time decision-making and personalization, so the correct advertisement and content gets delivered to users at the perfect time, according to Nardone.

The technology is much younger than Nardone's story, which began 45 years ago in Stony Point, NY. That's where Nardone grew up, wanting to go into medicine or law. But that was before he arrived at college and discovered the difficulties of organic chemistry.

Soon, the would-be doctor became a marketing tech geek. He met Chris Tragos, a fraternity brother at Duke University, who talked Nardone into sitting through a lecture given by Tragos' dad, Bill,  the "T" in TBWA. Now known as TBWA-Chiat Day, the agency is credited with creating the first Absolut Vodka campaign. "From that moment forward, I was manically focused on getting into the ad business," Nardone says. "David Ogilvy was my hero."

After graduation, he went to work for Ogilvy & Mather. Surprise: "I absolutely hated it." Nardone had discovered that working for an ad agency was nothing like what he had read about in the textbooks. He was quickly disillusioned after his boss shot him down when presenting a big study on a client's loss of money. So he moved to the marketer side, working for Procter & Gamble and then PepsiCo. In 1994 he joined Modem Media, which is now known as Publicis Modem.

Years later, Nardone joined a startup bought by Aegis, the smallest of the big holding companies, before the fledging launched. Aegis rolled the startup into Marketing Management Analytics and called the platform the company created Avista. The software platform pulled in data from TV, print and online data, generating statistical models to optimize the media mix.

A founding member of the Internet Advertising Bureau, Nardone was recruited for [x+1] by company board members Rich Lefurgy and Mark Wright. Nardone had long-standing relationships with both men -- with Lefurgy at the IAB, with Wright as a client for Wright's company @plan, "the first media planning
tool for the internet," according to Nardone. So "when they ganged up on me, I didn't stand a chance!"


2 comments about "What's It Like To Be A True Marketing Geek? John Nardone Knows".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., October 28, 2009 at 6:21 p.m.

    First video ad? Prove it. Before there were players of any sort and before there was such a thing as flash we were taking video frames and rolling them into animated GIF banners. I've got the floppy disk around here someplace.

  2. John Nardone from [x+1], November 1, 2009 at 6:19 a.m.

    Jonathan: "Prove it" is a bit rude...but I'll take the bait...At Modem Media we "rolled video frames" into animated GIF banners for an AT&T campaign called "Little People" in 1995. Tom Beeby was the creative director. This was also the first ad with sound. But in 1996, we strwamed a live video feed from the Atlanta Olympic Games into a banner for AT&T...very choppy, but real video. And long before there was Flash, there was Enliven, and we were the first to use that technology, too.

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