Kepler Employees Learn What Their Parents Really Think Of Their Digital Marketing Careers

Take Your Parents To Work DayThe stereotype of parents being behind the times didn't hold true at “Take Your Parents To Work Day,” an event held in New York on Thursday at data-driven agency Kepler.

The program explained to parents how their kids plan targeted advertising campaigns. It also gave parents a better idea about just why that pair of L.L. Bean boots follows them around the Internet.

“It’s exciting to see what’s going on behind the scenes as you’re moving your mouse around,” said Chris Anderson, a mom whose two daughters work at Kepler. “It made me realize how complex this business is, and how you can be so targeted. There are also a lot of acronyms – I got some of them.”

Maybe they were being kind to their kids, but parents who spoke with AdExchanger said they didn't walk away with a creepy feeling once they got a peek behind the curtain of audience marketing.

“We have been riding this wave of free information as consumers for a long time,” said Mary Bennett, another Kelpler parent in attendance. “We’re learning that it’s not free, the same way TV is not free, but it’s a different currency. You’re trading your data.”

The parents even let slip that they like advertising – as long as it’s relevant.

“It’s convenient, especially when I’ve been shopping and that pair of shoes keeps coming back,” said parent Reae Sargeant.

Curiosity about which ads were being targeted to him and why led one dad to change his behavior.

“There’s a program out there called ad blocker, which I use,” Tom Sargeant said. “I’m actually going to turn it off, because I’m interested in what kind of [targeted] ads I’m going to see.”

Another parent put the agency in the hot seat, decrying poor quality, interruptive advertising.

“One reason people get annoyed by ads, including TV ads, is that they’re interruptive,” said Liz Gordon. “Print ads aren’t interruptive and people even enjoy looking at the ads. I know interruptive drives purchasing and buying, but is there a way of making these interruptive moments not as disliked?”

A Kepler analyst pointed to the industry’s shift to unblockable formats, such as native advertising, as well as the continued need to create high-quality, relevant advertising.

One mom, a former brand marketer who now works in integrative wellness, expressed surprise by how much the field had evolved since her heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“The big thing we did [for measurement] was to have them watch the commercial and see if they remembered it,” recalled Mary Bennett, whose daughter Courtney is a senior analyst in client solutions.

Kepler enhanced
Kepler "Take Your Parents To Work Day"

“We were just washing the market with hundreds of millions of inefficient dollars to create brand awareness,” she continued, without any targeting ability or way to tell if someone who saw an ad converted. “We did everything based on our gut.”

Today, people in digital marketing take for granted the ability to do something like target pregnant women, which was unheard of and would have been incredibly valuable in Bennett’s time.

Anderson, a freelance marketer for small businesses, worried that sophisticated techniques, such as ads that use hashed email addresses from a CRM database, would widen the gap between large corporations and everyone else.

“When you’re a small company, you know you need to get on Facebook, but how do you add those other things to your list?” she said. “It made me wonder how small businesses will do in the new age, and if there’s an opportunity to help small businesses with this.”

Though most in attendance spent their careers honing their expertise in other areas, all the parents rose to the task when planning a mock advertising campaign for a new smart watch. Some, however, chafed at their group leader’s suggestion that they target advertising to people aged 25 to 45 years old.

“Everyone I know with a smart watch is over 60!" Liz Gordon told the group.

After the parents presented their mock campaigns, Kepler employees, including CEO Rick Greenberg, applauded the campaigns created by the two dozen parents in attendance, which exceeded expectations.

“So where do you think all you smart people came from?” Gordon shot back.

 

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