Editor's Note: "Meet a Media Planner" is our ongoing series of Q&As where we find out what's on the minds of media planners at agencies across the country. Today we're talking to Arthur Yen, a finalist in the 2012 Yahoo Young Media Stars competition and a media planner at Initiative in Los Angeles. Arthur joined Initiative three years ago as a member of the digital planning team for client Inuit Consumer Group, best known for its TurboTax product. He worked in analytics for a year and then moved to media planning, which gave him the chance to do what he really wanted—influence media strategy.
Yahoo Ad Blog: How do you explain what you do to your mom or dad?
Arthur Yen: I tell them I practice mind control. I'm joking, but as planners, our jobs really are about changing user behavior---so if we're not influencing how people think and react, we're not doing our jobs. The great part about digital media is all the data we get to help us make decisions. I spend lot of my time looking over that data to help me understand how to best structure a plan that will help influence consumer behavior. You have to be creative and analytical in digital advertising; but deep down, you need to understand people. That's the main part of my job.
YAB: What's the most challenging part of your job?
AY: Let's be real---this is an awesome industry. I get to work with young, smart, driven people, explore the city, and go to restaurants, so there's not a lot of downside. The challenge to me is, how do I keep it fresh? How do I continue to push myself to think in new ways and not get bogged down in the repetition that can sometimes be part of planning? To combat that, you have to keep challenging what you know and believe---even if what you know and believe has worked in the past. That's how you thrive as a planner.
YAB: Name a campaign that you thought was especially effective or genius; something you admire.
AY: There's a campaign that an Initiative team put together for Hasbro's KRE-O building blocks that won a Silver Lion at Cannes. They were going up against Lego, and it's really tough to take on a product with that much incumbency. The campaign was predominantly online video---they did a custom You Tube build, using stop-motion videos; while the videos were playing, the page surrounding the video would break down into building blocks. It was a really cool way of speaking to a younger audience, and it got great results. That's the important part. It's one thing to do unique executions and create a great buzz tool. But if you're not shifting an action or mentality, the plan is kind of worthless.
YAB: What are some of the biggest concerns you're hearing from clients?
AY: For any digital advertiser today, I think attribution is a key topic---how do you more accurately attribute success to a campaign, a publisher, or a media channel? We have to move beyond simplistic metrics like clicks or post-click conversions, and find truer ways to ensure we're using the proper channels and publishers. Another challenge is that media channels are starting to merge now, so digital and offline channels are becoming more entwined. Tablets, mobile, online video---the space is evolving rapidly, so we have to look at new definitions of success there, too.
YAB: Your job may be awesome, but it has to be stressful. How do you de-stress?
AY: Video games have always been a passion for me. It's a great way to unwind. I can sit for hours in front of a TV and just kill zombies. In the winter, I try to go snowboarding. It's tough, because snowboarding season aligns perfectly with tax season. It's weird how that worked out.
YAB: What sets your agency apart? What do you appreciate most about it?
AY: Our focus is always on putting performance first. All the work we do and the plans we put together … we're always being challenged to tie it back to business goals and measureable results. It's not about being innovative, creative and different; that's not enough anymore. You really have to put a plan together that's going to move your client's business forward.