Rachel Pasqua is currently the Head of Mobile at MEC, one of the world’s leading media agency networks. Prior to joining MEC, Rachel served as VP, Mobile at iCrossing, where she founded and managed the emerging media group. The Makegood recently spoke with Rachel about her new position as Head of Mobile.
The Makegood: Congratulations on your appointment as Head of Mobile for MEC North America. Could you elaborate on what this role entails? How will you apply your 15 years of digital media experience to this position?
Thank you—I’m thrilled to be here! MEC, as an agency, has shown a real commitment to helping its clients stay ahead in a fast-evolving digital world. My role is central to realizing this vision. I will be working across account teams to guide our clients in the area of mobile, ensuring we deliver multi-screen strategies that extend a brand across the many devices that populate the customer experience. I say multi-screen because we’re an increasingly real-time, always-on society, and our attentions are rapidly shifting across multiple screens, from the smartphones in our hands to our televisions to the digital signage we see as we walk down the street. In this kind of world, the question is no longer “How do you extend this TV campaign to mobile?” but rather “how do you create a contextual, real-time conversation with that consumer across all the screens that matter?” More often than not, these conversations are started on or triggered by a smartphone, but we recognize that this is only one screen—albeit a fundamental one—in the media landscape. So we prefer to think less in terms of mobile and more about mobility—about how we can effectively connect with that real-time consumer from screen to screen. In this new role, I will be focused on fine tuning and continuing to bolster the strategies, internal processes, and pivotal partnerships that enable us to bring best-in-class mobility solutions to our clients.
The Makegood: How do you believe mobile has evolved over the past few years? How has it become an integral part of advertising campaigns?
I can’t think of a single client that isn’t investing in mobile to some degree—but that’s been the case for a few years now. What is new is the growing acceptance that mobile media and content require specific and unique consideration—that simply resizing a desktop banner for a smartphone isn’t the right way to go about it. More and more clients are open to, and actually expecting, us to come to the table with unique strategies for mobile. The industry is arriving at a place where we really understand mobile as a medium in its own right rather than just this ancillary thing, and that’s a huge shift.
The Makegood: What are your goals for mobile at MEC? How do these goals align with other aspects of digital media and advertising?
The foremost goal is the obvious one—to make sure that we’re telling a client’s story across all screens, with an emphasis on delivering truly engaging and innovative smartphone and tablet experiences. The long-term goal is a bit more complex and far more exciting. Smartphones are already an indispensible tool to activate and amplify the effect of print, broadcast, and digital out of home, and mobile factors heavily into the way MEC approaches these more traditional forms of media. However, when you think in terms of mobility, all kinds of possibilities take shape, from wearables to ambient experiences triggered by NFC and Bluetooth. The focus is quickly evolving from ‘mobile’ strategy to ‘connected consumer’ strategy, (i.e., approaching consumers when they need you and where they need you, and making the most of the moments that matter to them). My goal is to help clients navigate these new, largely unmapped territories, while defining what success means in these still-nascent areas. By genuinely integrating the concept of mobility into a client’s digital strategy, we are truly able to deliver on our ambition to be our client’s most valued business partner.
The Makegood: What are your goals for mobile internationally? How does international mobile differ from the mobile media you work on in the United States?
Mobile is pivotal to our business here in the US, but it has even greater importance for our clients in LATM, and APAC, and certain parts of EMEA, where smartphone usage is the dominant, and in some cases, the only screen available. These mobile-first markets represent a huge opportunity to deliver truly innovative, mobile-first marketing solutions. But differences do exist from one market to another in how we might approach a specific brand campaign. For example, what works for a hotel brand in Texas, likely won’t be as effective in Singapore and vice-versa. An understanding of how mobile needs and behaviors shift across global markets informs the decisions we make from targeting, to media selection, to the creative user experience. However, the intent is much the same globally as it is here in the US—we strive to reach the right user, in the right place, with the right content. The real difference is that in some markets, the interaction might begin and end on a smartphone, providing us with ample learning that can be applied to the way we plan and execute mobile-first strategies in the US.
The Makegood: Being experienced in the field of digital media, what advice would you give to those who have only recently joined the world of digital?
It all depends on where you’re coming from. I’ve had the good fortune to mentor a few younger people who are just starting out in their careers and my advice to them is to socialize and explore—get out there and meet as many people and as many companies as you can. Your best job opportunities will almost always come from a personal connection and the early days of your career are the most fertile ground for creating that network. Of course it goes without saying that you’ll benefit from intellectual exploration as well—read the influential bloggers in your area of interest, be active on Twitter, attend meetups and join grassroots professional organizations. The one quality I prize most in the people I hire and work with is intellectual curiosity, and I don’t think I’m unusual in that regard. So it’s important look for opportunities to self-educate—learning doesn’t stop after college or graduate school.
My advice for traditional media people is a bit different—you have a real skill to barter with since digital people often find your expertise equally mysterious. If you’re a traditional media planner, find a digital planner to skill swap with – there’s no real blueprint for it, but it will be an invaluable exchange for you both.
The Makegood: Thank you, Rachel.