Media Mavens

Media Mavens: Robin Steinberg, MediaVest

This Fierce Negotiator Assembled a Million-Mom Network

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It hasn't been an easy ride for publishers grappling with new formats, channels and devices -- and the same can be said for the folks sitting across the table from them. To account for the digital shift in the media landscape, Robin Steinberg, MediaVest exec VP-director of publishing investment and activation, has helped assemble a new structure and standard at the agency in which there are fewer silos among practice groups.

Robin Steinberg, MediaVest
Robin Steinberg, MediaVest

"We're thinking about content, how publishers can be leveraging their assets in very different ways, and we're recognizing how to leverage a brand vs. just buying a page in a magazine," she said.

One result of the new structure was the Motherboard program Ms. Steinberg spearheaded with Meredith for client Walmart. The team recruited a digital network of more than 1 million moms via TheMotherboard.com, and the conversation inspired editorial content across the Meredith portfolio. The campaign linked some of the network's content to Walmart product pages, and the team also ran a full-page Walmart ad as part of the Motherboard program.

Rex Conklin, senior director of media at Walmart, praised the project -- and Ms. Steinberg's involvement -- via email: "Designed to link consumer insights with editorial content and advertising creative, this industry first brought 1 million moms into the conversation to help drive relevancy and business results for Walmart.

"Robin is a visionary helping to shape the industry by focusing on content rather than channel," he added. "Her leadership in the tablet marketplace will help transform how publishers, advertisers and consumers think about magazine content."

Ms. Steinberg, who joined MediaVest as VP-director of print in 2004, this year negotiated a deal with Hearst and Bonnier to provide MediaVest with demographic and engagement information data on tablet editions. Days later, Conde Nast and Time revamped their own policies on data sharing.

As part of the group's digital transformation, she also brought in Razorfish media lead Sarah Baehr as senior VP-director of digital publishing solutions. "We identified digital talent because we were going to change our approach and break down all silos," Ms. Steinberg said. "We can bring content to life."

At the end of the day, she's able to cultivate relationships because she's not afraid to laugh at herself and use her "Ruppet," which is a puppet through which she sometimes yells at people, she said, jokingly. But she's also serious and "tough, but fair," according to Mr. Conklin. "Robin is a fierce negotiator," he said, "unafraid of aggressively addressing sensitive or controversial issues."

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