A big thanks to all who attended our 2019 kick off panel, Buzz Words and Reality Checks, and a special thanks to moderator Jane Lacher, EVP Strategy Zenith Media, and panelists Kristen D'Arcy Vice President, Integrated Marketing & Media, American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.; Monica FoggProduct Director, IBM; Kimberly Thompson Executive Vice President, Managing Director, Spark Foundry; and Heather Ripp, Sr. Sales Executive, Pandora.


Our annual Trends panel usually sparks debate, but this year our panelists – who span all aspects of the media, martech and advertising industries – were unanimous in their views and focus for 2019 and beyond.

Top Line

  • Well-Deserved Buzz: Voice, Total Attribution Modeling, AI, & Personalization
  • Reality Checks: Virtual Reality, Podcasts, 5G
    • While these may become game changers, they’ve yet to reach the scale most advertisers are looking for. Then again, if you’re buying a specific audience should scale matter? Reality may be in the eye of the beholder
      • Virtual Reality has been the next big thing for years, but connectivity, enablement and accessibility are still a challenge
      • Podcasts, while admittedly hot, lack both scale and an ability to measure
      • 5G… here’s looking at you 2020


Breaking Down the Buzz

 AI: AI and Machine Learning are used interchangeably, but they are actually two different things noted panelist Monica Fogg. “Machine Learning doesn’t have context, but it can do the math faster. That means that it can process campaigns faster.” Machine learning processes vast sums of data, learning new things, whereas AI seeks to mimic a human response, making a decision via context. 

  • Monica Fogg sounds off…
    • “Repeat after me: Chatbot is not a dirty word. It’s created a new channel and habit. It’s a direct system (for example, turn on the lights) but it’s not yet as contextual as we want. Yes, it’s great that you can tell me the weather but now you have to tell me what it’s going to feel like and what I should wear based on what’s in my closet.”


  • Kristen D’Arcy on current use cases:
    • We’re using chatbots as a customer service tool and have been able to apply learnings to real life interactions in store and online.”


  • Heather Ripp on the benefits:
    • “It helps provide more personalized experiences (by combing data)… hopefully without being too creepy”


Voice: Move over digital natives and make way for the “Voice” generation. While still in its infancy, Voice offers a massive opportunity for product innovation and a shift in habitual behavior. As one panelist noted, not long ago consumers used to be wary of buying things through their phones, but look at us now. Consumers are repeating that same wariness with voice, but much like mobile payments will slowly adopt the behavior.

  • Monica Fogg on planning for Voice now and in the future:
    • “How does the AI conversation of today influence the behavior of children? This is the voice generation. As we plan these experiences, we have to plan for children because they will be natives. The question is how do you design an experience for a young population as well as aging population?”


  • Kimberly Thompson on the cultural shift posed by Voice:
    • “It’s a game changer. Today kids are getting socialization via headsets- playing a game with 6 other kids they’ve never met. We (Gen X) had physical childhoods. But this is an entire cultural shift in consumption.”


  • Heather Ripp on the Voice opportunity:
    • “Voice activation, specifically purchasing though voice, represents a huge opportunity for growth and voice identity work. Right now only 3% of consumers are purchasing though voice but it’s growing…”


Total Attribution Modeling: Panelists reported that now more than ever, marketing is being held accountable. Expect continued pressure to ensure metrics keep up with touch points- even, and especially, when they aren’t physical.

 Kristen D’Arcy on attribution and accountability:

    • “We need to be clear about the role of media in advance, and understand that innovation can mean tradeoffs…We’re moving beyond last click attribution to multi-touch attribution; we want to eliminate our marketing blind spots.”
    • “Our CFO is just as important as our CTO and Data Group. Marketing is being held accountable. For example, Personalization sounds great, but how much better does it perform? What is the lifetime value of a customer and should we make an investment behind personalization?”
  • Monica Fogg on accountability:
    • “It’s same for product. If we make an investment, what is the return? What is the amortization of the investment?”


  • Kimberly Thompson on attribution:
    • “We need to connect the dots between channels, and the activation of the IOT. It started with search, but voice will force us to look at things holistically for attribution. For example, we’ll need to start considering things like voice completion rate.”


Personalization: The discussion regarding personalization veered between AI, Loyalty, Gameification and Privacy as our moderator, Jane Lacher, highlighted how the value exchange has changed with technology. The ability to personalize an experience down to a specific segment enhances the overall consumer experience. And these enhanced and deeply personalized brand experiences are becoming the foundation for evolved loyalty programs.

  • Monica Fogg on the value exchange:
    • “There’s a currency shift for high value information that hasn’t been commoditized. What am I getting in exchange? Better rewards on the backend? Designing better experiences?”


  • Heather Ripp defined a personalized experience as something that makes our lives easier. Provides “utility.”


  • Kimberly Thompson on meaningful personalized rewards:
    • “We’ve become trained by rewards. There’s a big opportunity for personalized gamifiation. For example, with the Apple watch I don’t want a pat on the back or “good job” message, I want you to play me my favorite song. That’s a reward. That says I get you.”


  • Kristen D’Arcy on understanding the types of experiences their consumers find valuable:
    • “We’ve actually hired a Data Scientist to help. Younger people want experiences and early access. We’re looking at ways to reward engagement, not just purchases.”


Recap provided by AWM-NYC board member Jennifer Villani-Hammitt. Photo AWM-NYC board member Emily Eldredge


Did you miss the event?  Don't miss the insights

Do you already know everything you need to know about public speaking and presenting?  Is your personal brand clearly apparent on all your social media networks?  Do clients and friends value your stories and the experiences you share?  

It turns out most of us need to brush-up on our communications from time-to-time, or all the time.  Fortunately for members and guests at the 2018 “Personal Branding” event, Laura Ramadei and Ellie Heyman presented a great array of strategies to not only UP your Business Communication, but any conversations you have.  Laura recently joined UP Business Communications as Vice President, and has a history of communication training in business, government and theatre.  Ellie is UP’s Chief Creative Officer and displayed her theatre director and acting coaching skills in delivering great personal communication advice.

The team shared a bit about the science behind story-telling. Illustrating the value of telling the story “from inside out”. The goal: start with internal conversation. And while I don’t recall hearing the “authenticity” word dropped in first half of the session, the audience certainly captured the essence of that value.  

The challenge for most of us is finding a "sticky" way to communicate.  With both personal and professional audiences having minimal time and limited attention, each communication must deliver a value to the audience in the most clear and concise manner possible.

The Coaches from UP provided fun and interactive exercises with Alliance for Women in Media group.  Most included the audience working in pairs, with just a few members providing their examples for the entire group.  Laura and Ellie drew out the best examples of great communication and demonstrated how your business story could be as exciting and energetic as your most endearing personal story.

And while different people value different aspects of stories, the team provided tips on stripping “baggage" around communication and building your personal brand. The focus: learn to speak without fear of bragging.

While you probably already know human beings respond to narrative structures and emotion, Laura and Ellie provided a great framework with the acronym “CAPE”

C - Currency - We need to understand the value the audience needs. What do they want to hear about?

A – Authenticity - Be your true self, but your best self.

P – Passion - Pitch variation and gestures are more pronounced when passionate about a topic.

E - Erase the Exposition - start from a place of engaging interest. Start by grabbing the audience and don’t over share on the little details.

While this was only a one-hour session, the audience stayed on to enjoy wine and great hors d’ouevres hosted by PulsePoint and networking with Alliance for Women in Media members.  We hope to see you at our next event. And wish you clear communications, resulting in personal and business successes.

recap and photos provided by AWMNYC board member Anne O'Brien


The Alliance for Women in Media, NYC Affiliate is a professional organization dedicated to women in the field of media in the Greater New York area with an emphasis on peer-to-peer experiences. Through unique events and programming, AWMNYC provides its members the opportunity to make connections both personal and professional who inspire as well as educate. We welcome members that are interested in making authentic connections, sharing their experiences and have a desire to develop themselves professionally.

AWMNYC not only educates, inspires and develops top shelf professionals, but fosters strong business connections and relationships which translate into business opportunities for their employers and their clients. AWMNYC can assist you in your personal and professional development by providing relevant and meaningful relationships and experience for professional women in media.  Join today for the member price of $50 and enjoy discounts to events and invitations to special member only evenings.

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The "Women in Data Science" event was actually a controversial panel topic.

Timely topic? Yes.

Critical discipline? Check.

Interesting? Hmmm. After a long day at work, would anyone deliberately choose to spend their evening talking about dataBut… the AWM was created to help support and educate women in the advertising, media and entertainment space so in the end duty prevailed. Women in Data Science it was.

The night of the panel, three things became evident. Wine makes everything better. Because, you know, wine. Do not doubt the instincts of Jane Lacher, President of the AWMNYC, EVP at Zenith, and our panel moderator. Because, you know, Jane. And any misgivings we had about a night of Data were wrong. Because, you know, well that’s the point… you don’t and neither did we.

With a lineup of strong, smart and feisty panelists, including Alysia Borsa: Chief Marketing & Data Officer at Meredith Corporation, Karima Zmerli, Head of Data Sciences, North America at WaveMaker Global, Jeremy Crandall: Senior Vice President, Data Science, at VM-1 (a Zenith Agency) and Hollis Nymark: MS Data Science Candidate at New York University, we maxed out attendance and were still deep in conversation when it was time to wrap up.


If you weren’t able to join us, and even if you were, below is our panel wrap up and highlights. We will keep you posted on our next event, or keep checking AWMNYC.org 

1. Data is no longer a spoke on the marketing wheel; it’s the hub.

“Marketing needs to be data-driven,” said Alysia Borsa. At Meredith Corporation, Borsa is uniquely positioned to oversee both Marketing and Data. “It makes sense to bring them both together and centralize.” Karima Zmerli agreed. “Technology has democratized access to data.” As a result, analysts shouldn’t be considered specialists, but rather integrated team members. “Clients are asking for them at the table,” she stressed. But just thinking of data in terms of analysis sells the discipline short; Zmerli recently rebranded her department to reflect that. “Data is multidiscipline, not just analytics.”  “I’m allergic to the term ‘data’ in isolation,” confessed Zmerli. The term “’is overused. It’s losing its meaning.”

Jeremy Crandall also weighed in. “Data is so many different specialties at once,” which is due in part to “technology catching up to our goals”.

Saying that you need ‘data’ in today’s landscape is akin to saying you need ‘content’. Both terms have had their “it” moments and have become saturated to the point of being catchalls. They mean so many things to so many people that they risk meaning nothing (asap, anyone?). Our panelists agreed that to make data (and content while we’re at it) work for you, you need to start with the problem you’re trying to solve. 

2. Know what you don’t know.

A map is useless if you don’t know where you want to go. Likewise, data, in and of itself, can be irrelevant if you don’t know what problem you’re trying to solve. According to Hollis Nymark, currently studying for a MS in Data Science Candidate at New York University, the first thing students in the program are taught is “to be certain of the problem”. “It’s a bit data 101,” said Nymark.

Moderator Jane Lacher pressed panelists on the types of problems they are being asked to solve with data; the answer probably won’t surprise you. “Who is my audience?” was cited as the most frequently asked client question which speaks to marketers grappling with the volume of consumer data that they have access to via social platforms, publisher data, crm data and on and on. The ramifications and responsibility of collecting such data is a panel for another day, though you needn’t look farther than the national news right now to see why.

Borsa said Meredith has used their data to help clients develop new products as well as advise clients on where best to invest in terms of content development, i.e. identifying topics and trends with long tails. 

3. Data’s best friend is context

Data alone does not answer the “why”. It’s only meaningful in context, Nymark pointed out. The biggest gap (or opportunity depending on where you’re sitting), is bridging he divide between technology and development, and the business and marketing side. “There aren’t enough people right now who can make that leap,” noted Crandall who built her career helping with that translation. “We need more bridge builders.” Borsa echoed the sentiment. “We need more storytellers [in data]… people that can understand and translate the so what”. Borsa has trained her teams, even those in the data and technology trenches, to always keep the greater business and clients in mind. I ask “What are you working on and how is it driving the business?” If it doesn’t tie back to the broader goals of the company [or client], “they shouldn’t be working on it.” 

3. Data ownership is… a work in progress.

“Who owns the consumer?” Zmerli asked. “Data is perishable. It doesn’t last long. It’s how we share it that’s important.” Crandell agreed, feeling there was definitely an opportunity “for more cooperation between brands [agencies & partners]” in terms of sharing data. And that makes sense when you represent the media agencies. But in today’s publishing landscape, consumer data is the secret sauce that helps inform content- and it’s also a source of revenue. “We have a direct relationship with the consumer,” Borsa said, “so the data is proprietary.” They do share, Borsa said, though there needs to be a “value-exchange.”

One thing was unanimous across the panelists: everyone who touches data has a responsibility to protect the consumer, and more transparency is needed.

4. Sage advice for budding Data Scientists?

  • Alysia Borsa: “Understanding data can be applied to every industry. It’s a transferable skill set.”
  • Karima Zmerli: “Adapt quickly because data is built off of technology and tech evolves quickly. You can’t stop learning.”
  • Jeremy Crandall: Lots ofopportunity for those able to ‘build bridges’. Andthere are very few Chief Data Officers…”

A special thank you to the March 22nd panelists:

  • Karima Zmerli: Head of Data Sciences, North America at WaveMaker Global 
  • Jeremy Crandall: Senior Vice President, Data Science, at VM-1 a Zenith Agency
  • Alysia Borsa: Chief Marketing & Data Officer at Meredith Corporation
  • Hollis Nymark: MS Data Science Candidate at New York University


Recap by Jennifer Villani, AWMNYC Board Member

Thank you for joining us for our Women’s Leadership and Taking Risk Discussion

We hope you found it interesting and walked away with some valuable ideas in managing your career.  Please join us in thanking our panelists Kristen Metzger, Ife Babatunde, Jamie Petkanic and Courtenay Harry and our moderator, Karyn Detje.

Karyn kicked off the evening with this video featuring Ginni Rometty which really defines how women evaluate opportunities and our own experience. If you missed it, it is a short 3 minute video and worth a look. For the rest of us, it is a great reminder of how we often speak to ourselves. 

For those of you who were not able to attend, you were missed, but not to worry, you don't need to miss out. Be sure to join AWM NYC today and you will have the opportunity to attend our members only Taking Risks workshop session in the fall. 

 AWM NYC will be on hiatus for the summer months, look for more from us in the fall. 

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