Media Mavens 2010

Media Mavens: Carrie Frolich, MEC

Digital Expert Behind First Twitter Ad Deal Values Importance of Not Getting Caught Up With Technology

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NEW YORK ( -- Here's the irony of being Carrie Frolich: Her clients, such as AT&T, Macy's and Citibank, depend on her to stay on the bleeding edge of technology and digital media. She did the first real commercial deal with Twitter ("Title Tweets" with AT&T and CBS last year), and four of her clients were among the first to try out Apple's iAds.

But all of this makes her too busy to actually use the tools much herself. She's a sporadic presence on Twitter, but a recent post sums it up pretty well: "I am tracking behind on my plans for world domination. Gotta step up my game."

Three years ago, Ms. Frolich was a digital media director, splitting time between MEC and sibling media shop Mindshare while getting an education in Group M, the holding company for WPP's four media shops. That's when she was part of the team that brought in the AT&T account, consolidating the giant marketer at one media agency for the first time.

"They are good about bringing us opportunities first," said Steve Governale, executive director of digital at AT&T. "I think she has very good instincts in terms of seeing tech or trends or new tools and identifying those that have an opportunity to scale vs. those that are a flash in the pan."

To handle that account, MEC doubled in size, and Ms. Frolich ended up overseeing all of it. In January, she was promoted to managing director of digital for North America, overseeing display planning and buying, paid and organic search and consulting and gaming, as well as being tasked with creating a five-year plan for the agency.

"What are we seeing as far as our clients' needs over the next five years? How do we build up offerings to help us get there? What are the things we need to advise them on?" she said.

Ms. Frolich started her career in Miami working for a lobbyist. She became a digital expert because, well, she had an AOL account and knew how to use it. When she came to New York, she started at an upstart digital agency, Organic, which at the time had 19 employees in its office. "Everybody there was, like, 25," she said. "There was no skepticism of the young." Her career progressed quickly. In five years, she was a media director.

When she joined WPP, things changed. "At a big agency, they have all these longstanding, trusting relationships," she said. "All of a sudden my hit rate on pitching an idea went from 10% to 70% overnight."

But what she learned then is that the key is to stay ahead of the technology, but to also know that none of it really matters. "Over time, it's so easy to get caught up in the details of the specific opportunities," she said. "The most important thing to be expert in is the client's businesses and their customers."

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