In this month’s edition of InsiderInbox, we have a fantastic guest who’s spent the last 4 years deeply embedded in the digital advertising industry. Shlomo Kutner began his digital career with Vice Media as an intern working in sales/media planning and integrated marketing. He then spent 18 months as an ad ops specialist with New York Magazine, before moving to The Real Deal, a NYC-based real estate news publication.
The Real Deal specializes in residential and commercial real estate news, catering to an audience primarily of brokers, financiers and everything in between. As Director of Ad Ops, Shlomo works closely with the editorial, sales, and marketing departments to optimize the user experience through integrated content and advertising that’s curated for their interests.
As the company expands more into B2C content to meet the growing interest in real estate, Shlomo has become heavily involved in redesigning TheRealDeal.com and he’s implementing new sales and marketing processes to get The Real Deal in front of advertisers looking to tap into this captive audience.
Here’s what Shlomo has to say about where the industry is, and where it’s headed, with a splash of his signature wit and humor.
1. Why did you choose digital marketing, or maybe it chose you?
I definitely didn’t choose digital intentionally. I started out as a philosophy major in college and then decided I probably would need a real job, so I switched to business. I had no interest in digital marketing at the time, but I got a job as an intern at Vice, which developed into ad ops role. I then moved on to New York Magazine and from there learned all about the digital media industry.
2. What is your personal mission statement?
If you’re not learning from your mistakes, then what are you even doing? We should always be expanding, learning and growing. If not, you’re silo-ing yourself and won’t grow beyond the scope of your job.
3. Tell me something about your job that inspires you to keep working at your company.
It’s definitely not the money…but I really like the people I get to work with, and I love that I can be involved in every aspect of the business. Here, we’re not just stuck in one department, if I have an idea for editorial or a business improvement, I can go to the Editor-in-chief or to the publisher and pitch ideas. I love that it’s very open and transparent, with no real hierarchy. Everyone’s equal.
4. When you think of the word “successful,” who is the first person who comes to mind, and why?
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I love that he really started out as a nobody, became a wrestler, and is now one of the most recognized and influential stars in the world. He’s also a motivational speaker and just an all-around great guy. You know, I’m very skinny and my goal is to someday look like him, but right now I like to call myself “The Pebble.” It’s part of my 10-year plan!
5. What is a skill that every digital marketer should have and why?
The skill of being able to learn. There’s never just one thing that you can always do—the digital space is constantly evolving, so you need to evolve along with it. You should know some HTML or CSS, but you should also be able to analyze data, identify trends, and to understand user behavior and what’s driving it. The best skill is to be a jack of all trades, master of none.
6. What is the best part about your job?
That I can work from home. I really love the flexibility. If you’re working in digital, you can log in anytime, from anywhere and get your work done. In the office, you get easily distracted by coworkers, but at home, you can lock-in and finish what you need to do, at your own pace. And maybe play with your puppy sometimes, too.
7. If you could only use five digital tools, what would they be? And why?
1) Google analytics – It really helps you to understand your readership, where they’re coming from, how long they’re spending on the site and where they’re exiting. You can use that data to optimize their experience and constantly improve to address that behavior.
2) Google Ad Manager – It’s very easy to use, an easy way to make money, and in exchange, I can plug in a lot of great partners.
3) Sailthru – This is our email service provider. We used to have MailChimp, but it was a terrible experience with no analytics. It wasn’t a data-driven approach to sending newsletters. Since switching to Sailthru, our open rates have gone up, our click-thru has gone up, and I can personalize the email templates. We can also use our algorithm to fill in popular stories from our for our newsletters if we don’t have enough newsletter-specific content. Everyone is upping their newsletter game and having a great email provider is so important.
4) PowerInbox – When I was at New York Magazine, we used LiveIntent, and then switched to PowerInbox. It’s just so much easier to use and you can traffic ads through GAM. When I came here to The Real Deal, they were dragging ads into the template, and then going into MailChimp and manually pulling the data. With PowerInbox, we can now do this easily, and it’s reduced the amount of ad mistakes in our newsletters from 50% to less than 1%.
5) Quantcast or some kind of data software to learn more about your audience. This helps us to build user profiles and see where they’re coming from—what kind of hobbies they have, their lifestyle, their likes and interests. Then you can use that data to market that content to audiences.
8. Who inspires you? (Can be anyone in the industry, a personal connection, etc.)
Aside from The Rock, Elon Musk. He’s also involved in everything, a jack of all trades. He not only launched a very successful car company with Tesla, but he’s also got Solar City, Space X, and of course, PayPal. He does it all, and he’s not even close to being done. That inspires me to do it all.
9. What is the biggest digital publishing trend/challenge for 2019?
Flexibility. A lot of people have a myopic view of what their brand should be. But, in today’s market, you must be constantly evolving and expanding. For example, Business Insider started as a business-only publication, and they now have publications for tech, fashion, etc. They’re also starting affiliate marketing, so they’re hitting everything you should be doing to build a brand, even podcasts, and Alexa integration. Diversity and evolution are critical. This is also good for those of us who work in the industry as it creates a lot of talent openings.
10. If you could have one billboard and place it anywhere, what would it say and where would it be?
It would say “Eat More Chick-fil-A” outside of Popeyes.
11. What have you changed your mind about recently?
Something that’s really been bothering me a lot: Kale. At first, I thought it was great. And, then someone told me that it’s really hard and pretty much indigestible when eaten raw, so you have to massage it with oil to make it digestible. So, the next time I went to Sweetgreen, I noticed how hard it is. I think I’m done with kale.
12. What’s the one or two things you can’t live without to get the job done?
My dog for sure. He’s like my therapy dog after I’ve had a stressful day. Then, my laptop, and my one cup of Nespresso coffee every morning that really gets me going. Of course, then I crash at about 2 p.m. Also, I really think we should have 4-hour workdays. I might start a campaign.
Now, that’s a cause I think we can all get behind! Thanks so much to Shlomo for sharing his insights and sharp wit with us. We couldn’t agree more that the industry is constantly evolving, and staying on top of the shifting trends is the most critical skill for digital industry success.
Until next time, be well friends!