While living in San Francisco during the first dot-com boom, the success I enjoyed in business during this economic exclamation point was balanced by personal struggles. Everything has a way of evening out, you know.
At that time, I had married and then divorced a girl who used to beat me -- punched and slapped, scratched and spit on me as she swung away at her own demons. Getting out of that relationship left me bewildered about how I’d allowed myself to be in it. I sought answers, so I went into psychotherapy to find them.
Twice a week I snuck out of Snowball.com’s Brisbane offices at 5:30 p.m. without telling my bosses or my team where I was heading. Embarrassed, I never submitted a single medical expense to HR. After a year of starts and stops along this emotional journey back into my own childhood, I asked my therapist Ardelle, “So when is this, like, over? How long do I need to come here until I am done?”
She smiled warmly and said, “You will know when you are done.”
Almost six years of tears later, she was right, and I was done. Soon after, I packed up my car with a sharpened set of tools to handle life’s situations, and drove back East. Once settled in NYC and on the idea of starting my own media sales consulting business, I launched this very OPI column in 2005 with my first submission, titled "King of Advertising.”
I started writing for MediaPost to help myself by helping online publishers with advice from insights I acquired running sales for an online publisher that eventually was acquired for $650 million dollars (Snowball.com changed its name to IGN, which was purchased by Fox). I witnessed all the mistakes we fixed, and could see the missteps other publishers were still taking. I was naïve enough to think I could show other publishers the errors of their ways -- and egotistical enough to try.
“Just Say No to Ad Networks” was the first time I realized people were actually reading. It was also when I realized I was in the minority when I refused to let anyone sell IGN.com’s impressions unless they worked for IGN.com.
I wrote “Tiger’s Roar” for my father.
“You Can’t Spell Privacy Without Piracy,” “Making a Living on the Privacy Fault Line,” and “D.N.T is full of B.S.” were all written angrily. I was angry with the IAB, the FTC and anyone else that ignored the obvious protection “opt in” delivers to consumers in favor of the monetary outcomes that come with “opt out.”
When I sat down to write this column, the topic was going to be viewable impressions and how this solution serves as a refresh button, erasing so many mistakes. Branding value increases, credibility as a medium goes up -- and, yes, even the performance metrics we drove to this dance have to improve if we move full throttle behind viewable impressions.
As I began to splatter my thoughts on the page, it occurred to me how absurd it is for anyone to oppose this move of ensuring ads bought and sold online are actually seen -- and the reality that many will fight it. At that moment I knew I was done.
Writing this column has been a privilege bestowed on me -- and Joe,* I will always be grateful. At the same time, this column has become a convenient excuse for me not to write the story I need to write. So with that I must thank you, the readers, because that makes me a writer, which is all I ever wanted to be.
Oh, and my parting advice to the online publishers out there: Don’t accept your current position in the online advertising food chain; the only thing keeping you from your proper place -- at the head of the table -- is you.
*Mandese, MediaPost’s editor in chief