Experian Marketing Services will announce the appointment of Jeremy Hlavacek to chief commercial officer. He joins the company from IBM Watson Advertising, where he helped transform the business into a digital platform.
When asked to cite his strategy for the year, Hlavacek said it is to “unite the teams and raise our profile in the market” as the company continues to integrate and strengthen its position after the Tapad acquisition in November 2020.
Hlavacek, who will oversee the sales and the commercial organizations, has a “long-on-data” attitude that supports his view on making the advertising world “a better place” and space.
A fan of the fictional character Batman, and the fictional city of Gotham, he looks forward to structure through additional privacy regulations because it will “codify the rules of the game” and provide consumers with additional safety and security.
Search & Performance Marketing Daily (S&PMD) caught up with Hlavacek to talk about his new role, his love for data, and his vision for the future.
S&PMD: When and how did you discover a love for data and technology?
Hlavacek: Information is powerful -- and having increased access to information from data paired with technology transforms the world -- whether that data is used to forecast the weather, predict traffic patterns, automate or improve supply chains, inform where brands choose to prioritize shelf space, or help marketers plan their media strategies.
The combination of data and technology is only becoming more critical to the success of marketers and to business in general.
S&PMD: What is your vision for the use of data and technology in digital advertising?
Hlavacek: I think data and technology are a force for good in digital advertising and the world more broadly.
We live in a time where our abilities to measure, calculate, compute, and predict have never been better. This is incredibly exciting and opens up so many possibilities that the world is still uncovering. There will be twists and turns as we learn, but I think we will look back on these times as a period of incredible progress and unprecedented opportunity.
S&PMD: When in high school, what were your career plans?
Hlavacek: Honestly, I had no idea. I liked language and communication. My mother had worked as an editor at some large publications, so I did have an inkling that the media industry could be interesting. The lucky break for me was that I finished college right around the time that the commercial internet was becoming a real industry. I loved how the web was a completely new twist on my interest in communication. I jumped into an emerging and unknown space and never looked back.
S&PMD: How and when did that career shift to advertising?
Hlavacek: I worked at my first ad agency about 15 years ago. I loved the mix of "art and science" in advertising, but at that time I felt like the science side had more room for growth. Google was only a few years old and Facebook had just been invented.
It seemed like these companies were redefining the way advertising worked with an emphasis on data. That was very exciting to me, and drew me into the world of data-driven digital advertising.
Today, data can be an amalgamation of so many concepts. But at the core, it gets back to connections and insights. With ever-shifting regulations, data is becoming increasingly scarce and there is a real opportunity to drive growth in a signal-agnostic, privacy-friendly way.
S&PMD: What is the best piece of business advice anyone gave you, and from whom?
Hlavacek: The best advice I’ve received is "Don't get too high on the highs or too low on the lows." This came from a mentor early in my career. We were working on some early internet projects and had some huge successes, but also some big misses. The drama was high, and the rollercoaster got to be a little exhausting.
We were expending too much energy reacting to short-term outcomes and it was detracting from our long-term mission. Once we reduced the "drama factor," we found that the velocity of our projects increased.
One reason I like Experian is that the culture very much aligns with that approach. There is a lot of change happening in the data landscape, and Experian is focused on adapting to the market to steadily drive value over the long term.
S&PMD: What is your reason for joining Experian Marketing Services?
Hlavacek: Experian manages an incredibly impactful data set that helps the world make better decisions. We do a lot in the marketing industry today, but I think there is room for us to do even more -- especially with the acquisition of Tapad. I also believe that in the current market, companies with a long track record of security and safety in managing data are more likely to be successful. Experian’s dedication to providing a signal-agnostic offering is going to be critical as the ecosystem continues to shift.
Hlavacek: I like my leaders to make decisions and help the business make progress. I don't expect perfection, but I do expect action. It is my job to coach and calibrate the pace.
I want to be able to look back with my leaders and see that we have led the team well and made more correct decisions than incorrect decisions. I expect the same from our functional partners -- that as leaders, we are all working to raise the bar and partner towards leaving the business better than we found it.
S&PMD: What is your goal for the year? What does 2022 look like for you at Experian?
Hlavacek: My goal for the year is to excite and inspire the team for our mission. I want everyone to understand that they are part of an industry-leading organization and the work we are doing is central to the future of digital media and the open web.
No one should take anything for granted and we need to make the most of the opportunity in front of us. In short -- YOLO.