We caught up with Michael Nececkas, Senior Director of Audience Development at Hearst Digital Media, to learn more about the digital side of this publishing giant.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I help manage the audience development strategy at Hearst Magazines, within the digital division. Specifically, my (fantastic) team oversees the email newsletter products and deployments for all of our websites as well as the paid spend for traffic, subscriptions, and affiliate marketing.

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

I sit in the audience development team and report to Brian Madden who is the SVP Consumer Revenue and Development

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

I think the most important skill to be effective in this role is a firm grasp on data analytics to see campaign effectiveness, track ROI, and explore what audiences and partners are most effective for what we are trying to achieve. I find it’s also very important to keep up with what’s happening in the marketplace with our vendors and paid partners. Efficacy and offerings change often and it’s important to make sure we’re catching and testing as many opportunities as possible.

michael nececkas

Tell us about a typical working day…

A typical day is optimizing campaigns, meeting with editors and team members to make sure what we are doing is reflective of each separate brand’s core identity. We want every e-mail we deploy or campaign we set up to be an extension of the site’s mission and value.

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

I love being able to see what’s working and what isn’t. I love trying to be able to figure out the why. Data tells you what people did but never why they did it. I think the thing that is more challenging is the patience needed when it comes to development cycles. We have a great product team (one of the best I’ve ever worked with), but it’s always a lot longer from concept to product then what one first thinks it will be.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

The basics are grow conversions, grow audience, and please our brand ambassadors.

From an audience standpoint, it’s building on an audience more for loyalty then unique visitors. We want to engage our audience to spend more time with and have more frequent consumption of our content. The more we can own the direct relationship with our audience, the better off we are.

Lastly, we always try to work with our editors to give them access to deploy campaigns that are important to them, unique to their voice, sustainable with the resources we have and of course accretive to earnings. From a metrics standpoint it’s the classics, CPC, CPA, open rate, click rate and visits per UV.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

That’s a tough one. I wish I had a favorite tool. I find you always kind of work with what you’re given. Each platform’s UI and campaign set up process is different. The easier question would definitely be which tools do I like the least and for that I’d have a ready answer.

How did you end up at Hearst?

I’ve had a really lucky career to date. I started my career at US News & World Report and learned about the basics of publishing and marketing. From there I went on to different roles at Scholastic, Conde Nast, Time Inc, and was most recently at the Vitamin Shoppe. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of really talented people. Here at Hearst, I’ve gotten to take aspects of what I’ve learned all along the way and put them into practice everyday.

What partner content or advertising sticks in your mind?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but one campaign that comes to mind is we worked with an advertising partner to highlight their content in our apps. The campaign was triggered when users got close to selected retailers. It created an action that put the advertiser top of mind as the consumer went into the brick and mortar store. I thought that was a great way to marry our brands’ strengths with data and audience that are unique to Hearst.

Do you have any advice for advertisers looking to get the most from their relationship with publishers?

Bring us your problems. We’re all in this changing landscape together. Chances are we know your paint points with audience and data. The more collaborative we can be on a problem the better the campaign will most likely be for both of us.

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