Ever thought about a career in digital advertising? Here’s what you need to know

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Arguably one of the most rapidly changing and growing industries, digital advertising is an exciting area to build a career in.  

When a friend told me about the industry, and the company I now work for (AppNexus, a Xandr Company), I was completely blown away by what I found out, in particular the world of ‘big data’. At the time, AppNexus processed over one TB of raw data per day from transactions in the system, and today this value has much more than doubled. As humans, we produce massive amounts of data – in fact, 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years alone. The massive opportunity around the use of this data excited me, particularly in programmatic advertising, which basically means using algorithms to ensure people have an enjoyable and relevant advertising experience when browsing online.

So if this sounds intriguing – how can you get into digital advertising?

There are no specific requirements, particularly as the roles within the sector are so diverse. I studied Maths at university and then did a Master’s in philosophy, and my colleagues come from a range of backgrounds. You don’t have to have a university degree; apprenticeships can also be a great route into a career.

I’d say personal qualities are more important than specific qualifications. Perhaps the most important things are being curious and finding change exciting since the digital advertising world changes so often and so quickly – it’s a completely different beast to what it was five years ago. If you like the challenge of adapting to new opportunities and new products then you’ll find endless opportunities. Perhaps you’ll even be able to drive this change yourself and be involved in creating those new products, which is what I’ve found myself doing.

Many roles in digital advertising are really collaborative, so team working skills are vital. For example, I’m a Senior Product Line Manager for the AppNexus Programmable Platform (APP), which allows media buyers (those negotiating online ad spend for brands, or brands themselves) to purchase online ad space in real-time with an algorithm. I’m essentially the coordinator between our engineering team working on product development and the commercial team with their knowledge of market nuances. I take my understanding of the clients’ problems, the expertise of the teams and turn that into a strategy that creates the best product for our clients.

As you can probably guess from what I’ve said so far, it also helps if you have a technical mind, as the online advertising ecosystem is really complex. I personally have loved getting my head around how it all works, as I find the logic of cause and effect so interesting. The complexity of the sector can make it tricky, as it’s so full of acronyms and technical terms that it can sometimes feel like another language. Again, having an inquisitive mind can make you determined to crack the puzzle!

If the idea of starting a career in digital advertising sounds interesting, there is lots of information here: https://www.appnexus.com/careers

Anne CoghlanAbout the author

As Senior Product Line Manager, EMEA at AppNexus, a Xandr Company, Anne is responsible for the strategy and vision for the AppNexus Programmable Platform (APP), the industry’s first programmable Demand Side Platform (DSP).

Launching her technology career in 2013 as Technology Consultant for Accenture, Anne led a 17-member system integration test team through major transformation projects for this global media communications company.  Since joining AppNexus in 2014, Anne has also served in a services role where she supported programmatic partners on both the sell and buy-sides of the real-time advertising marketplace.

Outside of her role, Anne is a member of the IAB UK Ad Tech Advisory Group and has led advanced programmatic workshops to educate and inform newer members of the industry.  She also mentors some of the next generation of digital talent through her association with WhiteHat apprentice.

Anne was recognised for her work this year when she was named one of The Drum’s 50 under 30 women of outstanding talent across the ad tech industry.

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