Fittingly, last week I attended a reunion of the digital team at MEC, the global media agency where I worked for seven years. I was reminded how a bunch of young, somewhat crazy people built the digital media industry in the aftermath of 9/11. Those early years were difficult, especially since most major advertisers still weren’t sold on the Internet. The industry was built client by client, convincing each one that digital advertising was worth the investment. It’s important to remember the critical role that agencies play in commercializing new platforms.
As the digital media industry grew it, eventually became enormous, making the “Mad Men” era look quaint by comparison. With digital media ad dollars in the hands of young media planners, and venture-backed companies vying for their attention, the result was a never-ending series of drinks, meals, deals and boondoggles. Life then was fun for buyers and enriching for sellers. The fact that this era in advertising still hasn’t been dramatized in books or television still surprises me.
But those days are gone. In a few years, MEC will relocate downtown to 3 World Trade Center with the rest of the GroupM companies. MEC will be in the heart of New York’s financial district, which seems fitting given that -- like the stock market -- media is becoming increasingly programmatic. Even television ad buys will eventually take place in a datacenter!
While I’ll no longer be writing a weekly column for Mediapost, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the industry here and through my blog, The Makegood. Media is one of the most dynamic industries in the world, with New York at the center of it all. Five out of the ten world’s largest media companies are still based in Gotham, with no other city having more than one.
I would like to thank you for reading my column for the past two years and for all of your comments and encouraging words. Thanks also to Joe Mandese for giving me this opportunity, and Phyllis Fine for being my loyal editor. While I am excited to have my weekends back, I truly enjoyed the weekly challenge of sharing something useful with you.