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Ad Ops All Stars: Eric Hill, Cars.com

by Kathleen Booth, on Jul 28, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Eric HillWhat does it take to build a more diverse and inclusive ad ops team?

This week on Ad Ops All Stars, Eric Hill of Cars.com talks about his experience as a black man in the ad ops world, and what he's doing today to increase diversity in the profession. 

Eric's ad ops career has taken him from managing digital revenue and operations at Tribune, to overseeing advertising strategic sales for Microsoft, and now serving as ad operations and ad trafficking manager for Cars.com. In that time, he's managed teams as large as 50 people and as small as four, working on both the direct and programmatic sides of the business.

Today, Eric is focused on giving back to the ad ops community by mentoring younger professionals, and playing an active part in encouraging diversity and inclusiveness.

Listen to or watch the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear Eric's story.

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Transcript:

Kathleen: Welcome to the Ad Ops All Stars podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and today my guest is Eric Hill, who is the ad operations and ad trafficking manager for cars.com. Welcome to the podcast, Eric.

Eric: Hey, thank you for having me.

Kathleen: I'm really looking forward to speaking with you today for a couple of reasons. Number one, I need to hear all about the sneakers behind you, which we'll get to. Number two, your resume reads like the who's who of the ad operations world. You've had incredible experience across a range of amazing companies. Microsoft, Tribune, Sears, Hearst Magazines. I could go on and on and on, but I won't. But when it comes to Ad Ops All-Stars, it sounds like I'm talking to the right guy.

Eric: Okay. Well, we'll see. It's been a journey and a lot of those titles and those stops along the way were specifically to kind of put me in a place where I'm totally peaceful about being in ad ops.

Kathleen: Yeah. You talked about that when we first met, which I love. Now, before we dive into your story, I always ask the people I interview in the beginning of sort of icebreaker question. Which is if you had to describe your job in ad ops to a five-year-old, how would you do that?

Eric: Oh, wow. To a five year old. I would probably say that I would describe myself as a fun babysitter who is going to teach them tons of things along the way, and be adventurous all the way through.

Kathleen: Love it. All right. And I think you would definitely be a fun babysitter.

Eric: So, we're on the way to the zoo. So let's-

Kathleen: I'm down for that. Yeah. All right. Okay. So before we start talking too much about ad ops, let's talk about the shoe collection. Because if you're watching the podcast on YouTube, or somewhere else you'll see this, but if you're listening, what you might not see and now maybe might make you want to go watch the video. But Eric has this awesome wall of shoes behind him in his home office.

Eric: Yes. Well, fortunately I can't put all my shoes on the wall, but I've always had this obsession with collection of shoes. Collection of many things, watches, glasses, shoes, but mainly shoes and folks that's worked with before, especially in my Tribune days, kind of know how the obsession goes. But I'm probably at maybe now maybe 125 pairs of shoes that I own. That's with me donating maybe 50 or so within the past year or so.

Kathleen: Are they all sneakers or are they all kinds of shoes?

Eric: No, they're boots. They're casual shoes, dress shoes, sneakers, but the biggest collection of them are sneakers yes.

Kathleen: Okay. Because I was going to ask what does it take for a shoe to make it onto the wall? Because I see the wall where you've got a couple of pairs. Are there certain types of shoes that are your favorites?

Eric: The ones that make it to the wall are vintage Jordans. Jordans will make the wall, and then I have kind of like a giant shoe box that is customized for shoes to maybe how it was maybe about 20 pairs of shoes. That's a Jordan one as well with 20 pairs of Jordans in that. Then I have an array of many other pairs of shoes. Yeah, so I I've cut it down tremendously from what it used to be in the past, but yes. So folks that know me know that that's my obsession in collecting shoes and certain other items.

Kathleen: I knew there was a reason I liked you a lot because I too am a shoe person. Although I will say different kind of shoes than you're getting.

Eric: I would hope so.

Kathleen: But mad respect for what you've done with it. I think that's awesome. We could have a whole nother podcast on shoes, but we're here to talk about ad ops.

Eric: Oh, we definitely could. Yeah. Ad ops goes hand in hand depending on where you stop in at a company, you'll see people have some very nice shoes.

Kathleen: I love it. So talk to me about how you first got into ad ops. What was it that led you to this career?

Eric: I'll be exposing my age somewhat, but it was in the late nineties, when I actually kind of stumbled across working at Chicago Tribune at the time and just helping individuals navigate the website. chicagotribune.com was just newly built and they had their AOL portal as well. So I was kind of helping folks navigate, look at archive articles, how to find things. And very new at the internet space, also myself. So I kind of stumbled it not knowing what ad ops was, but I knew what I was doing, me being hands on, me kind of being that resource for folks kind of needing to know how do I do this, that, and other.

Eric: Also being that person that nobody knew what the hell you were doing. So I kind of fell in love with that. That led me down the path of when they really started to from that poin, started calling it ad ops. At the time it was customer service, but it more or less formed into an ad operations type position. The department kind of formed is that as well.

Kathleen: You've stuck with ad ops for a long time across a lot of companies. You mentioned when we first started talking that you're in a place of peace with your career. Can you talk a little bit more about that and what do you mean by that?

Eric: Well, I will say what I mean by that is when I came into at ad ops, there was very few if no people that looked like me there. Which was it had its advantages, but for the most part, it was uncomfortable. Even going to conferences and be a parts of different things, even clients coming in the office, or us going out and celebrating with them in restaurants, things of sort. It just always appeared as the odd ball.

Kathleen: For those who are listening and can't see the video, they don't look like me because?

Eric: That is correct. I'm an African American man. I'm six foot five, over 300 pounds. I can be noticed and I am noticed any and everywhere I go. But the African American aspect of it was something that I had to kind of grow into feeling comfortable, because it was not the melting pot that I felt that it should be. It took some time for me to be able to not only understand my role within ad ops, but also kind of figuring out my niche of how I could change that. Even if it was for myself and whatever company I was in, leveraging whatever responsibilities, or even power that I had to kind of shift the landscape and kind of making it a little bit more inclusive, and not just wait for it to happen.

Eric: So my career has kind of been a path of doing that along with educating, finding new talent, kind of developing them and graduating them out to something bigger and better. That meant whether it was within the company that I was at, where even outside the walls of that company. Because the industry is huge. Most times the folks that I was managing didn't know that. They only knew what was going on in the four walls of that building that they reported to every day.

Eric: So it was my job and I took it upon myself to make sure that I kind of spread that love and wealth outside of just who I am and have people be inclusive to what I was doing. But then also me introducing them to the rest of the industry and what everyone else was doing. That is where the peace came in once I got the niche of saying, now I know how to do that. Let me go here, or there and the other and see if this works wherever I go. That was my gift to what I learned from multiple people that helped me, but also my gift back to saying, "Here's new, great talent that folks probably would have never discovered at all."

Kathleen: Why do you think there is such a lack of diversity in ad ops?

Eric: I wouldn't necessarily say ad ops in my experience. In corporate America, it's the lack of diversity all across the board. But I think ad ops was always kind of that distant cousin that nobody really wanted to deal with. So that department always looked and felt a certain way. It just was never a priority to grow and build ad ops departments. So it kind of remained if such, very small. Just a couple of folks doing 10 people's jobs, things of that nature wearing multiple hats.

Eric: So it never really grew to have that additional space to have other individuals with different cultures, backgrounds, ideas, kind of being part of the organization or that particular department.

Kathleen: I think you and I talked about this, but before the interview, when we first met, it does seem as though when it comes to diversity there is gender diversity within ad ops. You do see a lot of women, at least in my experience, which is really interesting, but that hasn't extended to racial diversity as much.

Eric: It has not. The funny thing, and we talked about this, folks that I learned so much from, and kind of pick brains and kind of molded my image so to speak around some of these folks, all of them are women. I called them my fantastic four. Barb Healy, Catherine Beattie, who you've already interviewed. Laurie [Tablayers 00:12:35], Tina Holmes. So, there's folks out there that was very instrumental in my development. Like I said, I was able to kind of tap into kind of what I learned from them to kind of build something, or develop people in a way that's not so traditional.

Kathleen: So I'm so fascinated by this topic. You've talked about like making it sort of one of your life submissions to change that lack of diversity. Other folks listening are going to be people who lead ad ops teams. If improving diversity is something that's important to them as they build their teams, what advice would you give them?

Eric: I would probably say it seems like the reverse, but it's not an aggressive effort to go out, and create a diverse team. It's not like I'm going out and saying, "Hey, I'm down one African American, let me go on here to try to interview." It's not one of those things. It's just not allowing biases to stop you from improving your team, and making sure you have a robust team that have individuals sitting next to each other, that they probably wouldn't deal with and talk to on a normal basis. But understand that multiple people in all shapes and forms, whether it's race, whether it's gender, even sexual orientation that people kind of say, "I know somebody like this. This person is on my level. This person is very smart. This person I can lean on as a resource, and build relationships with."

Eric: So sometimes we are so tribal that we don't necessarily break out that norm unless we're forced to. So, I've done that and made it uncomfortable probably for some, which they probably would never admit. But had them kind of working with folks that they normally wouldn't deal with, and probably never went to school with. Never had to kind of depend on in that type of way. So it was just my mission to kind of create that in some way.

Kathleen: You know what you say, it really hits home because we've talked a lot about this in my company. About how when you have a team, and when you're hiring is based on hiring people who are within the networks of the people that already work for you, you're going to get more people that look like the people that work for you. So there's something about not relying on those networks, which it's so easy to fall back on that because you feel like people are pre-vetted and you feel like it's going to be quicker and easier and better odds of success just because, "Hey, I know that person, right?" But breaking out of that, I think you're right. Can have a really big impact.

Eric: Yeah. But when I would look at resumes when I was vetting folks, I would always purposely not look at the name of the school that they went to. The very last thing was looking at that. I directly paid attention to their credentials, what they did, where they worked at, and of course looking at for spelling errors and things of that nature that we do when kind of trying to trim down the list of individuals that you sit down in front of. But the very last thing, second to last was the school, and the very last thing is the actual name. That's the way you kind of eliminate some of those biases, because by the time I get to the name, I've made a decision whether this person is at the top of the pile or is in the waste basket. But it's based off of strictly that.

Eric: I think a lot of people don't get that shake, because the first thing folks look at is name and they might look at her last name, and it might be a bias there. Then they look at the school and then they say, "Oh." And then by the time they look at the credentials, they're kind of like, "Oh." So I trained myself to kind of work backwards in that sense of how I view people so I can give them a fair shake.

Kathleen: I think it's interesting that you described that process, because I think you're right. It's even worse these days because either you're doing hiring and you're looking at LinkedIn, where the picture is the first thing you see. So you don't even need to look at names to start with bias, or I found, and I work in marketing. So maybe it's different, but I have found that when I hire there's this real trend of people including their photos on their resumes too. So it's interesting. The deck is stacked against people in terms of even if you to do what you're talking about, oftentimes it's hard to not see.

Eric: Yeah. Right. Sometimes you get into those situations where it's exposed to me just [crosstalk 00:17:58].

Kathleen: We all hope that we would not allow it to influence us, but I don't even know that, I'll just speak for myself, I don't even know that I'd be aware if it was influencing me. You know what I mean? Like there's conscious and unconscious bias and you can't spot the unconscious stuff.

Eric: If we've learned anything probably within this last four or five, maybe even six years, is that the unconscious bias becomes something that you can't kind of get rid of, if you don't at some point of time recognize it, and then do something about it. So sometimes you have those biases based on past experiences, or what you've heard, what the media has shown you. Whatever the case is.

Kathleen: But your parents raised you to believe, yeah.

Eric: Right. Exactly. Those things you don't necessarily say, "That's not a bad thing. My parents are really nice people and they raised me right. They did the right thing. So the way they did this is correct." But sometimes we have to take control of our own individual thoughts, and processes of what we feel is the best for us. The way that I build teams or kind of hire and motivate folks, might not be the best for other individuals in the way that their manager style is. But it's best for the people that I put together, the type of team I want to compete to be great, and try to push them to their best.

Eric: The best feeling is kind of seeing them wherever they go and reach back and just say, "Hey, I remember you did this, thank you for that. I didn't understand when you were doing this until now." Those are the best emails, and responses, and it makes it worthwhile what I'm doing.

Kathleen: So speaking of teams, you've worked in a lot of different places. What's the biggest ad ops team you've ever managed?

Eric: That one has been fairly recent. I had an opportunity where I'm working for a company and they wanted me to come aboard and kind of do a contract that worked with Microsoft. This is where the Microsoft piece comes in. Initially, it was sketchy about the amount of people I was going to be managing and things of short, but it quickly, and when I say quickly, I mean within a month turned into from maybe 16 to 18 people. I would be managing 250. That was 50 across the country. So I was managing folks out of Chicago, Seattle, LA San Fran, Austin, Boston, Atlanta, Toronto, New York.

Eric: So managing that many folks was a challenge within itself, but being part of kind of bringing these people together even virtually, because even though this was prior to COVID, it was still kind of a virtual type situation. I couldn't get in front of every single person. It was a challenge for me to kind of extend myself to that many people, but then it was also a challenge of saying what you're trying to do or what you want to do, now you can do it on a bigger scale. Are you up for it? That was the reason why I took the contract and said, "Yeah, let's go ahead. Let's do it."

Eric: So ended up having a great time doing it, and managing folks who were who were great, responsible, and it made it that much easier, but it was so diverse of a team. The melting pot was like ridiculous. That was kind of like the dream situation to come across. I was able to experience that, and I will never forget that throughout my whole career.

Kathleen: Oh, I love that. Now, you're at cars.com right now. What is the ad ops team at cars.com look like?

Eric: The ad ops team at Cars, much more convinced than then the situation I just describe. We've got three folks, myself. Then I have an offshore team that kind of works with us on a day to day. But the good thing about that is the diversity that Cars kind of presents. Not just with folks that you're managing and you're influencing, but the culture in itself kind of lends to, "Oh, this is a great situation." When I say that, it's at a time when it's very hard to balance the two. Last year with COVID going on, with, social activism at its height, and racism kind of poking his head out.

Eric: It's not an easy task, but I can say and I'm not just saying it because I'm with Cars now, but I'm saying it because Cars does a great job at making sure individuals are heard, and they can create these bubbles that allows them to feel included. So I'm talking, we have Slack channels in groups for Black Lives Matter. We have it for pride, for families, and you rarely see that in a company that embraces that. And kind of encourages you to be yourself and allow other people to know who you are, what you represent, and kind of what that means. It just brings to light seeing the differences in people still working together and not allowing that to affect the day-to-day job in hand.

Eric: So I feel like I'm at the perfect spot to kind of bask in the glory of kind of dealing with all of that. Also kind of what my mission and goal is to kind of make it much more multicultural, and inclusive. I'm kind of able to introduce them to many different ways of getting that without necessarily just meaning I got to hire people to kind of make that work.

Kathleen: It sounds like a great place to work.

Eric: It is, right.

Kathleen: That's awesome. Now you mentioned it's three people, is that because are you heavily programmatic? What does your stack look like?

Eric: Well, the way that we're kind of positioned, we kind of work in three different departments. That has changed recently, but these three departments still work together in itself. It's the account management team that is directly pretty much under sales and kind of manages the accounts and things of that nature. Then you have the trafficking team, and then you have the ad product. So ad product handles the stack and programmatic piece. They're much more of now under the tech side of business, and add product in itself.

Eric: So we allowed them to handle that piece, and the trafficking pieces handled primarily from national and local in regards to sales coming in. Also some initiatives from social and video and things of that nature, but that's kind of how we're kind of put together. Which could change in the future, but how we're kind of positioned at cars.com. So there's several different pieces put together and multiple hands in the pot kind of handling multiple businesses.

Eric: So it lends itself to not being just everyone that knows everything is in on the trafficking team, and everybody kind of can go to them. It's literally a combination of that account management team at trafficking and also ad product.

Kathleen: What is your day to day look like?

Eric: My day to day is working with my team, making sure that they are assigned the workload in properly, and making sure that they're up to speed. Working cross-functional around all departments to kind of make sure that I'm the representative of my team, and making sure that whatever touches us, it has a say so, and has a voice. So dealing with that, dealing with my office off shore team, and making sure that they're up to speed because they handle most of the QA piece. Looking over the reports, making sure that my team is getting better. And then you got the grant work when it comes to ad ops, where that never dies.

Eric: Screenshots, your mocks, your creative swaps, creative placements, changing URLs, things of that nature that are bare basics, but consumes your time also. So it kind of helps me out, because I go in and I help in hands-on as well. Bringing me back to my whole old trafficking days of kind of where everything started. So it's kind of a best of both worlds for me to kind of deal with things from a trafficking perspective at a high level, and also introducing what trafficking is to the company itself. Because I hear it all the time like what are you guys do? You guys help us.

Eric: I'm pretty much trying to connect the dots and letting folks know kind of where we come into play in the whole ecosystem of what is going on at this company that has several different workflows. But just letting them know where we kind of intersect and where we come in, and the part that we play.

Kathleen: How has your team measured? What does success look like for the trafficking team?

Eric: For right now, part of that is kind of efficiency. Some of that comes from metrics that we can kind of look up and see, but then also an extension of that, and me kind of getting the ear of folks that we service. So whether it's our internal, or external clients kind of hearing feedback of what is going on, what can we do to get better, and do better, and kind of me trying to trim the fat so to speak and trying to increase our SLAs, trying to cut out the middleman in certain areas to make us much more efficient to getting things in and out as soon as possible.

Eric: Then at a grander scale, it's me watching my folks work independently, but also kind of judging them and monitoring them based on projects I might've signed, or things that I might have them work on and seeing how they kind of go to task in regards to kind of agency. I tell folks in ad ops all the time, you will learn much quicker how to execute something before you would know what it is that you execute. You'll learn how to press these buttons and do these things and get this live. You got this on-site and you got a rush order, and you went in and you did what you were taught to do, but then can you tell me on the back end what it is that you actually did?

Eric: Tell me kind of areas within the ad tag, or whatever that kind of started the domino effect for you to kind of get it live. Those are the things that you kind got to train backwards. Just say that you've gotten that piece together. I don't have a problem with you going in and push your buttons and getting it locked. You know how to do that, but it's time for you to understand what it is that you did every step of the way, and each area of the company that it affected, and how to troubleshoot. So they're in a place now where they're learning how to do that. They're learning how to troubleshoot. They're learning how to ask the right questions and being able to work through problems.

Eric: So there might be times when I say, "Hey, I'm going to assign you disorder. You tell me what it is you think you should do." And then kind of know in that sense. So just let me know what you think. There's no right or wrong answer. It's just let me know how your mind is working. Then that way, we can kind of work together to accomplish whatever goal. My team is great. Not only in doing that, but being open and culture. So as long as you're coachable, you can kind of learn these things, and you can kind of learn what is going on.

Eric: Then that next step is introducing them to the industry itself, and having them be a part of AdMonsters and different Ops Forums and conferences and things of that sort. Last year they were able to sit in on some virtual ones, and the next step is to kind of get them traveling once everything settles down to kind of face to face go, and I need them to kind of understand the whole ecosystem of the entire industry, and how things work, and not just how things work at cars.com.

Kathleen: So you talked about increasing diversity and you talked about training your team. I'm curious, what do you look for in the people that you hire?

Eric: I look for people, and I've used this as a buzzword. I look for people that I feel that are coachable, that are open to learn, individuals who have a way of kind of expressing themselves, and kind of a multiple facets. So for instance, with ad ops you might have three different people you might have to respond to in regards to one particular task. I need folks to be flexible enough that depending on your audience, you need to switch up how you communicate. And kind of knowing what that audience is, knowing kind of what those responses are. So sometimes you find that out. You're in interview phase of just seeing if they can kind of answer questions from different perspectives.

Eric: Whether you're communicating with a vendor, whether you're communicating with a sales rep, sales planner, or the VP of sales asking questions. There's certain things that you kind of need to know. A lot of that can be taught, but some of that needs to be somewhat understood. So, a level of common sense so to speak needs to be in play. Some folks just don't have it. Some folks can only work out of a box, and they're limited to kind of, I hate to say thinking out of the box, but working outside of the box. Because I'm not only do I need you to think out of it, I need you to kind of operate outside of that box as well.

Eric: When some folks are okay with just being in their box, and that's fine, but this might not be the job for you if that's how you need to operate.

Kathleen: Are there any hard skills that are a must haves for you, or prior work experience that's a must have?

Eric: I would probably say must have is some level of customer service, because at the end of the day in ad ops, you're supporting something. Even if it's you're supporting a product, you're reporting or you're answering to that product manager or something of the sort. So it's always kind of, first thing is being able to have a level of customer service, and understanding the requests coming in, their dire need in the requests. Sometimes it is like urgent and sometimes it ain't so urgent, but they-

Kathleen: But they make it sound like it is.

Eric: They might sound like it is, but you still need to have your customer service hat on regardless either way. So I look at that as something that I truly would like to have. I like also individuals who were active in their schooling with different groups, whether it was sports, it could be volunteering, it could be a fraternity sorority, something of the sort. Because ideally I want you to work as a team because we need to work together, but then I also sometimes need to have you work solo as an individual.

Eric: So some of those things, I kind of look at and say, "I can't have you just be good at working by yourself." Working with the team as a team is very important, because I mean team players. Because if you're a team player, then I at least know you're coachable, and you're able to kind of follow my lead, or even lead of others that I put in place to kind of train you or lead you in a direction that I think fits for the outcome. All outcomes are different. The goals are different every which way.

Eric: So I need folks to be able to understand or been in those situations in life, where things don't play out the way that you initially thought that they would, and you can change on the fly.

Kathleen: You sound like you're a fantastic manager for the people who are fortunate enough to work for you.

Eric: I hope so. Some people say that I am, but I hope so. I've pushed some more than probably they would have liked, but I can say that it's been from the heart. That's why I said the peace came in when I stopped in my career trying to chase for titles, and things short. It was for the love and the passion of being able to find something I felt good about doing. Once I was able to do that, it's much easier for them to buy into whatever I'm trying to sell to them about what's going to be best for them. I tell them all the time, I'm here to make you a better professional, and make you good at what you're doing, but also a better professional at whatever is your next steps.

Eric: And that extends past our time together as you report into me. My folks, it's an open door. Any of my folks can always reach back to me with questions, requests for recommendations, things of that nature. I'm always here and available for them, because I feel that that's a long lasting responsibility that I take on when I bring somebody on my team.

Kathleen: So you may have already answered this question, but maybe not. If you were able to go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self, when you were just getting started in ad ops?

Eric: The advice I would probably have is be patient. They will come around, and that the ultimate gratification that I'm looking for is down the road. So like I was saying that those letters, and those emails that I get that could be five years removed from me. Some even managing somebody when they run into a certain situation, or when they get into a leadership role, and they realize what they have to do and say, "Hey I took this from Eric and let me send him an email."

Eric: Those are the things down the road that you kind of get satisfaction from. They don't happen on the fly while you piss somebody off and you push them to the brain, you don't get them to knocking on your door and say, "Hey I'm about to go home for the day, but thank you so much for what you're talking today. That doesn't happen right then, and there. It sets in and eventually becomes one of those things that you feel good about. I'm always going to be looked at as the Papa bear kind of ad ops and kind of nurturing folks to become better.

Eric: But it's good to kind of see people grow, not only as people and personally grow in their lives, and get married and kind of have children and things are short. But also just as a professional for them to kind of unload their talents on the industry, and kind of stay put within that, or within this frame. Like I said all the time, make sure that you pay it forward. Whatever I'm doing, the only thing that I ask in return, you don't have to buy me a good bottle of-

Kathleen: Maybe a pair of vintage Jordans.

Eric: Right. You don't have to buy me a pair of Jordans. But the only thing that I asked is that when they're in a position where they can actually kind of replicate whatever I did for them, but then to pay it forward and do it for someone else. Take somebody under your wing that you don't deserve to kind of be cared for and walked through the process and just kind of help them grow. It pays dividends to kind of have that happen. Then if you can have one person do it, and another person do it, and then it multiplies. Then in my own little world, I think that I've made a difference. And that's what I want them to also feel as well, eventually that they've made a difference.

Eric: This world is so small in ad ops that not many people that six degrees of separation that doesn't know each other, but people that you run into that you work with, that you manage and things of the sort. So it's always good to kind of stay solid, rounded, and have a good heart about what you do when it comes to ad ops. Sometimes it's much bigger than just the day-to-day stuff. It's about the relationships that you keep, the networking, the things that you do, the trips, the sacrifices, all of those things kind of play a part in kind of growing yourself, and lending yourself to others.

Kathleen: I love that Eric. That's a beautiful sentiment. I think with that, I am going to transition into the end of our interview because I feel like you just dropped the mic. I asked two questions. I always ask all my guests two questions. Of course, I want to hear what you have to say. The first one is that ad ops is always evolving. We're living at a time when we're talking about the death of third-party cookies, and all this identity and privacy stuff. How do you and your team stay on top of everything? It's a lot to continue to educate yourself. Do you have a certain resources you rely on for that?

Eric: Well, that's a good thing you say that. I rely on certain resources out in the field. So for instance, I have worked many times with Rob Beeler and AdMonsters, and then Michael Texidor at IAB. I was on the IAB certification committee for a number of years, and us trying to write the test for individuals kind of getting certified within the industry. So building those relationships with those that were in the class with me, certification classes and kind of networking, I've never missed to reach out to folks and say, "Hey, what are you doing at PGAgolf.com? What are you doing? What's different? How are you guys handling privacy?" Like we said privacy in this situation.

Eric: How do you successfully handle mobile since every year is the year of mobile? Some people get it down paten and they're able to kind of execute while others are still trying to wait for the year of mobile. It's kind of like tapping into those resources and constantly developing yourself. I have a great team that I can lean on at Cars with ad product and Michael Pickler, who kind of runs that team picking his brain, not only from a Car's perspective, but just things that he knows, and kind of can trigger with me.

Eric: But then also, like I said, reaching out to those individuals out in the workplace, whether it's in traditional ad ops, or even in the more programmatic world like folks that I know that are at Amazon. Ashley McGee is one of those individuals at Amazon that I tap into her a couple of times just kind of, "Hey, what's new? What's going on in this space or whatever?" So a lot of those times it's that, but it's a lot of reading. A lot of reading of publications and joining newsletters, getting things in your inbox. Instead of deleting them, actually read them, and network with folks. Then I'm a big proponent of conferences and things of that nature.

Eric: Even though sometimes it can get very salesy, and lose focus, but the ability to network and build relationships at those conferences makes a world of difference. You can really kind of reach out to folks to ask those questions that you might not be able to get at your own company. I get that those questions on LinkedIn sometimes, "Hey, how do you guys handle this? How do you do this?" Or whatever. So sometimes you can't get those answers. So you don't like the answers you're getting within your own company, but you have a network of folks out there to kind of depend on, and reach out to that gives you solid, honest feedback.

Eric: It's a world of difference. It's a world of difference, especially when you're vetting vendors and ad servers and things of the sort, or whatever. It's instrumental to have people that have kind of went down that path that can kind of give you some guidance along the way. I keep to that as my resources of how I get through my day to day.

Kathleen: So you are clearly a guy for whom relationships and networking and paying it forward is important. So now is a chance to pay it forward, because my next question is who should be my next guest? Who's another ad ops All-Star that I should talk to?

Eric: I don't know if this man had been pushed to you, but to be honest I had mentioned Bar Healy. Bar Healy is one of those individuals that I watch build. We used to joke, but build kind of like a kingdom of ad ops. What she was able to accomplish the times that I was under her at Tribune was like ridiculous. I don't think it could ever be done that way. We was in a sweet spot where ad ops was truly ad ops, and kind of finding this way. But the way she was able to kind of build that team, and grow that team year after year and get the best out of everybody. She is someone with a wealth of knowledge, not only on the digital side, but the print side is where she came from. And building relationships and kind of keeping those things as a family.

Eric: She could write a book or people could write a book about her and kind of what she was able to accomplish. And what it is that she means to so many folks. So I'm just a kind of a piece of the puzzle of what she has built, and kind of some of the things that I do, and how I view things come from her, and what I've seen firsthand that she's done for me personally. And has done for many other folks that has come through ad ops in the city and in this industry all together.

Kathleen: She sounds amazing. I have not heard that name before. So Barb I'm coming for you.

Eric: Yes, Barb is a good one.

Kathleen: I love it. Well, this has been a ton of fun. Thank you so much, Eric, for joining me for this episode. If you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, I would love it if you'd had to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave it a review. To hear more interviews with the other amazing ad ops leaders that we've spoken with, head to clean.io, and while you're there, check out our resource center to learn more about protecting your user experience on your revenue. That is it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me, Eric. This was a ton of fun.

Eric: No, thank you. I appreciate it.

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Topics:AdOps StrategyAd Ops All Stars

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