Reflections

This summer provided me with one of the most intense learning experiences I’ve ever gone through in an 8 week period of time. Because I was at a start up, I was expected to get up to speed and start making an impact in as short an amount of time as possible.

Through my experience at LiveIntent and the Summer Innovation Program, I gained a deeper insight into (1) the processes and daily minutiae that companies experience every day, (2) the power or influence of one person to change how something is done, and although cliche, learned to apply this type of initiative to my life: (3) go out and prove something by building a prototype, base it on some sort of data, and it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

To address the first part, every business must facilitate communication between its employees. At LiveIntent, we had meetings every single day at 9:30 to meet with the front end and back end engineers and an additional engineering team based in Argentina. When I first started in June, Skype audio was the preferred platform. In the next two weeks we switched to a different platform and bought and installed a speakerphone to improve volume and clarity. LiveIntent hired someone new during my last two weeks, Anna, and she implemented google hangouts. For the two years that LiveIntent has existed, the employees in the US had never met the ones in Argentina or even saw their faces despite speaking for a half hour a day and emailing back and forth. The obvious result was increased communication and stronger relationships with the engineering team in Argentina as well as a more human and enjoyable morning experience. Improvements, suggestions, and implementations like these work together to create a company culture and it was cool to see how Anna successfully navigated this despite her short tenure at LiveIntent.

Secondly, I enjoyed the challenge from my coworkers when I presented new ideas. Working in an industry I previously knew nothing about, I felt that my ideas would be useless or uninformed and during meetings, coworkers would ask deeper questions to see the weak points of my analysis or decision-making process. Through this constructive challenging I quickly understood that any decision must be backed up by some sort of data no matter how small. Exemplifying this principle to an extreme, Marissa Mayer once tested 41 shades of blue (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/business/01marissa.html?_r=0). However this does prove that there is always a way to take bias, human error, or other forces that work to obscure truth and reality out of the equation.

All in all, I had a great summer and it was an optimal experience for me at this point in my life. 

Advertisements

Midsummer

This summer I wanted to learn about a completely new industry, find something that particularly interests me, and have an impact on the company for which I am working.

I have accomplished the task of learning about a new industry starting from nothing. Before this internship, I could not describe the difference between a media agency, ad agency, ad tech company, or ad ops, but now I feel confident explaining the meaning and applications of : CPA, CPC, CTR, RTB, CPM, as well as a ton of other acronyms.

One of the most interesting things I have learned this summer deals with advertising and click fraud. There are fraudulent sites that employ click farms (groups of people that click on ads to generate revenue for the owner of a website, malware/spyware that has access to hundreds of thousands of people and can direct them to other sites or mimic their mouse and click movements to then replicate using a computer, and finally, sites that have hundreds of 1×1 pixel (microscopic) ad slots, thereby reaping immense profit without showing an ad to a site visitor. The people (usually overseas) that run the malware/spyware and botnets are the same people that frauded the banking industry, using the money to support illegal activities and trades. Fraud is one of the biggest problems in internet advertising industry especially since all the parties involved are not mutually incentivized to work together. Websites make money selling their inventory to the ad exchanges, ad exchanges make money selling the inventory to advertisers, and advertisers see higher performance metrics.

As for my work, I have been analyzing metrics on our site and looking for ways to measure our work, essentially creating Key Performance Indicators for my team. I will create, track, and record these metrics, and most importantly, set up an infrastructure for those processes and how to improve the metrics so that when I leave, someone can fill my place.