Q&A with Mobile Growth Leader Michele Webb

March 5, 2020

Michele Webb is VP of U.S. Growth & Programmatic at Entravision, specifically spearheading sales for its mobile-first DSP Smadex, but she’s also much more than that. As her nominator for the MGS mBolden Women of the Year Awards said, “Michele has a very strong focus on advertisers’ growth. She will never give up until she finds the right strategy that works for them and makes them happy with the results.”

It’s for this and so much more that MGA would like to congratulate Michele on winning the MGS mBolden Women of the Year Mobile Growth Leader Award. We chatted with Michele about getting her start, what it’s like to balance a high-pressure career with a family, and what every mobile marketer should be looking for in a DSP.

 

Q: Congratulations on winning the MGS mBolden Women of the Year Award! Can you tell us a little about how you got to where you are now? Did you have any mentors that helped you along the way?

A: My career started at the early age of 16, working in a telemarketing job and going to college at night. I moved into the digital world, specifically, in 2000 working for Neopets.com. You can say I grew up with the internet and watched the massive ripple effect of the first “Bubble Burst” with keen interest. I knew that this industry was to be my home. Fast forward to 2020 and I have more than 15 years of digital advertising sales experience under my belt, many of those years in a leadership role.

I always strive to over-achieve, but I think one of my strongest attributes is striving to help others succeed along with me. I take great pride in helping my team—and in some cases people from other teams—reach their goals and maximum potential.

Regarding mentors: Yes! My first and most important mentor is my mother—an entrepreneur extraordinaire who taught me how to blaze my own path on my own terms in business, and never settle for what someone else has in store for me, always asking for more than you think you are worth. As for industry mentors, I take mentorship wherever I can get it, and fully absorb the knowledge shared by my CEOs, other female trailblazers in the industry, and treasuring those who will give me their precious time and knowledge. My search for self-improvement will never cease. In fact, I am actually in search of a new mentor right now—not an easy task!

 

Q: Mentorship has continued to be important to you. Can you tell us why you think it’s important to mentor other women?

A: Too much time and energy is spent by many women on tearing each other down. If we are to make real progress towards true equality in the workplace, we have to build each other up. The next generation of women in our industry, whether from a younger demographic or those who are new to the industry, need the industry’s female veterans to light a path for them. I am proud to be one of the veterans lending a hand and helping to guide our rising stars to success. Mentorship is about getting your hands dirty in the field, working with people who have real challenges and who need real guidance. It gives me a lot of personal satisfaction to be of service to others and I personally learn so much in the process.

 

Q: You’re a mother as well as VP of U.S. Growth & Programmatic at Entravision. Can you tell us how you balance your responsibilities?

A: There are three main components: a strong support system; a disciplined schedule; and the “right” employer.

First, I could not do what I do without my husband. He is super hands-on and allows me to focus on work, knowing with certainty that our three kids, dog, fish, plants, house, etc. are all taken care of while I travel for business.

Regarding discipline, every morning upon waking I read an inspirational piece of content and write in my journal for at least 10 minutes, which includes listing out all of my personal priorities for the day. These priorities always include something related to my family. Additionally, I have strict personal rules about being present with my family. For example, no devices at mealtimes, no devices during basketball games or performances, no missed birthdays or special dates, and at least 30 minutes of unadulterated playtime every single day. It sounds silly to have to do these things so deliberately, but the reality is, in our digital, always-on industry, finding work-life balance as a wife and mother isn’t easy. It takes hard work and strict discipline to make it happen.

Additionally, you have to demand time for this type of balance from your employers. If they value you, they will have no issue with you leaving early to make it to a winter performance or recital, taking your child to the doctor, etc. When I interview with companies I dig in hard on their view on family and work-life balance, which isn’t always easy, but it is the only way for me to set my expectations upfront.

 

Q: Transparency in media is one of the topics that you often talk about and focus on in your work. How do you see transparency evolving in the year ahead?

A: The simple truth is that transparency is mandatory to have control of your ads and to understand all of the data signals available to enrich your growth strategies. Anything less than 100% transparency, affording you real-time data on site/app name, exchange, ad size, creative, and various other data points in the bid stream data, is NOT transparency. It’s truly amazing to have all of this data available to us on the media side of the business, so it makes no sense to me why, at this stage in our industry’s evolution, the advertiser can’t also benefit from this level of data from every single impression purchased. In 2020, two things will rule supreme—100% transparency and data (audiences).

Transparency also works both ways. Buyers now have the responsibility to share more data and communicate more openly with their media partners. Those that see the true value in partnering with their vendors will get much more efficiency out of them. I see more DPAs, and mutual non-disclosure agreements in the immediate future, and lots more interesting and deep relationship building between buyer and seller.

 

Q: If you could share just one tip with other mobile growth marketers, what would it be?

A: Establish these criteria when you are vetting DSPs, programmatic and/or other display partners:

1. You have a login to a real platform, not just a reporting UI

2. You can see exactly which impressions you bought:

  • in which app
  • In which Exchange
  • in which OS/OS version
  • in which carrier
  • in which location
  • in which phone model

3. You can see how the campaign is trafficked

4. You have control of your campaign

5. You can pass first party data to target or blacklist (suppression files)

6. Ensure every impression has a different price

 

Q: Let’s end this on a fun note! Tell us a little about yourself outside of the office. What do you do in your spare time?

A: You mean besides watching “Avengers,” “Star Wars,” or “Frozen” for the millionth time? Ha!

One of the pros (and cons) of motherhood is that I spend most of my personal time doing “kid stuff” like attending basketball practice, piano practice, watching kids’ movies, etc. However, the real beauty is that I can now share the things I love with them. Some of my favorite activities that I share with my family are hiking, yoga, vegetable gardening (yup urban farming!) reading fantasy and science fiction novels, creative writing, and painting. I am also a travel junkie, so we sneak in as many mini trips as possible and at least three real family vacations per year. My husband is also a recording artist, besides being a super dad, so I try to spend some of my “free” time in the studio with him. Luckily I LOVE music and the artistic process, so watching him work feels like play to me.



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