We’re Not in Digital Media Anymore.

The digital media business is evolving so fast that the roles for people are changing very quickly. In some cases, people have migrated to adjacent industries. Others have so closely tracked the transformation of media into a technology business that they now essentially work for tech companies. And a few have left media and advertising altogether. Here are some recent examples:

Embracing technology. As the media business relentlessly transforms itself into a technology business, entrepreneurs are evolving their companies accordingly. Chris Cunningham, CEO of appsavy, pivoted his company and has now launched adtivity, a native ad platform for publishers. Likewise, Andy Monfried, CEO of Lotame, shed his profitable ad network business in order to focus on building a data management platform.

Creating new revenue streams. Media companies themselves are also changing. Some are looking for new ways—beyond advertising—to make money. Last year Glam Media acquired Ning, the SaaS-based social networking platform. Thrillist, the media business targeted to men, now derives more than half its revenue from its ecommerce unit, Jack Threads.

Going mobile. There have been a number of people moving from traditional digital media to mobile. Carrie Frolich, a former leader at media agency MEC, is at Apple working on iAd. Bill Clifford, formerly of Wild Tangent, is now the Chief Revenue Officer at SessionM, the mobile engagement platform.

Back to TV. While most of us started our careers in digital media, some have ended up working in an older but extremely effective medium: television. Bill Wise, former president of Right Media, is now the CEO of MediaOcean, the company that handles billing for billions of TV ad dollars. Dave Morgan, founder and former CEO of Tacoda and Real Media, is making TV advertising targetable as the CEO of Simulmedia.

Creating related businesses. A number of us are now working for companies that are adjacent to the media buying business. Chris Copeland formerly led GroupM’s search engine marketing division. He now heads up GroupM Next, the agency’s research and strategy group. I left AOL last year to create an HR platform for media and technology companies.

Out of here. And then there are people who have moved away from media entirely. Nat Turner, the co-founder and former CEO of Invite Media, recently launched his latest startup, Flatiron Health, a company that is working to cure cancer. Presumably, banner ads are not part of his business model.

There are still plenty of people that are keeping the faith. Rob Norman was recently appointed to arguably the most prestigious position in all of digital media as Chief Digital Officer of GroupM. Peter Naylor leads a formidable digital sales team at NBC Universal, as does Nick Johnson for NBC Sports.

But the industry built on people buying and selling banner ads is increasingly a technological one. That trend will surely continue, redefining how we make ourselves useful in the process.

By Matt Straz
Matt Straz was a senior partner at MEC from 2002-2008. He is currently the CEO of Namely.
Courtesy of MediaPost.

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