Bowen Dwelle is the Founder and CEO of AdMonsters. Since 1999, AdMonsters has grown from an informal group of early pioneers in online ad operations to a global network of senior leaders in the field. We recently spoke with Bowen about AdMonsters and the future of digital media.
The Makegood: Bowen, after working in advertising technology and advertising operations in the mid 1990’s, you founded AdMonsters in 1999. What was your motivation to start the association and conference series?
BD: First off, AdMonsters isn’t an association, at least not in the formal sense of the word. AdMonsters is an integrated media company, providing strategic insight on the future of digital media and advertising through conferences, our web site, research and consulting services.
When I first started AdMonsters, I had been deep in the software world for many years, and I found myself wanting deeper professional connections with my peers. I took a look around some of the existing conferences, associations, and professional communities that served the field at the time, and it became clear to me that I was looking for something different. The field that I found myself in – ad technology and operations – requires a unique combination of technical and business skills, and tends to attract people who are technically adept but also integrative, pragmatic thinkers. I had no interest in bureaucratic standards-setting, nor in the broadest industry trade-show-type events – I was looking for direct connections to people who were working on the same types of problems, and who were willing to dig in, discuss issues, share experiences, and solve problems together. That simply didn’t exist – so I pulled together a group of like-minded people, and created it.
The Makegood: Over time, AdMonsters has grown into a premiere organization in the industry. How have you been able to grow and maintain the quality at the same time?
BD: Quality is for me almost synonymous with integrity, and quality and integrity are what create real value. Perhaps especially in the world of advertising, where the message so often becomes subservient to the overt goal of selling, quality may get left behind. I wanted to build a community that I wanted to be a member of, a community I got real value from, and that I could be proud of, so I made quality a goal from day one.
It’s important to remember that advertising and publishing are intrinsically related – after all, that’s what media is for the most part: advertising–supporting publishing – but that doesn’t mean that advertising should dictate what gets published. Advertising works because there is an audience. If the content isn’t relevant, if the editorial mission is clouded by a lack of integrity, or if the goal is simply to amass the largest audience possible, the value to – and therefore of – the audience is less. We have maintained quality by having a clear mission, both in terms of the nature of the community that we are serving, and of our editorial vision for serving that community.
The Makegood: AdMonsters is putting on the OPS: Digital Done Right event Thursday October 4th. Can you tell us a little about the event?
BD: OPS is our premiere event of the year. We’re calling it Digital Done Right because we want to show that despite all the complexity, the constant development of new technologies, the challenges of a still-new medium, there is a group of leaders who know how to Do Digital Right. OPS brings together people from across the digital media landscape – technologists, strategists, monetization experts, operations gurus – who are not intimidated by this complexity. Not that they have solved all the problems, but these leaders do have the experience, the skills, and the insight to use technology to make digital media work, and work very well indeed. The OPS community is showing each other the way to the future of digital media.
The Makegood: Who should attend the event and what kind of insights can they expect to leave with?
BD: Anyone who runs a business, a division, a department whose revenue depends on the profitability of digital media should be at OPS. This includes digital publishers and content creators, agencies, technology companies, innovators, investors, and brands that understand – or want to understand – how to do digital right. AdMonsters events combine the highest quality peer-to-peer learning, focused discussion, and facilitated networking to create a closely-knit band of digital leaders that transcends traditional boundaries between competitors, clients, and vendors.
We’ll cover many topics, ranging from programmatic premium, the evolution of agency trading desks, data as a currency, mobile tracking, branded content, multi-platform video strategies, the evolving role of social media, responsive design and advertising, to the the brand’s view of the future of digital advertising, and participants can expect to come away with insights in all of those areas and more, but most of all they will leave with a uniquely valuable experience as a member of a true professional community – a community that they can continue to draw upon as they move their careers and businesses into the future.
The Makegood: Thanks, Bowen.