David Berkowitz is SVP Corporate Marketing & Communications at Mediaocean. Prior roles include running marketing for video production marketplace Storyhunter, leading the strategy practice at social listening firm Sysomos, CMO at Publicis agency MRY, and co-founding the emerging media division of Dentsu agency 360i.
Who is your digital hero?
I have many heroes who have been mentors and sources of inspiration, but if I need to pick one right now, I need to call out Sarah Hofstetter, president of Profitero. I worked for her during my seven-year run at 360i, right before she took the reins as CEO.
What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?
She’s way more than a digital hero. She’s someone who earned her way into high-impact roles where she helped transform the ad industry for the better.
She’s always looking out for her clients and teams, and she inspires her teams to overdeliver for what clients need — often before clients often know what they need. She has also always put her family first, leading by example to show that one can pursue a career while also making time for personal priorities.
It’s also telling that issues that come up so prominently in advertising today, like DEI and work-life balance, are topics that she was speaking about candidly 15 years ago. She always is steps ahead.
How has her heroism helped to drive digital?
She’s taken on challenges that seem less challenging in hindsight. When she started building the Emerging Media team at 360i, she was pushing the agency and our clients into the forefront of social media — and hence the forefront of marketing at the time — before there were great business models. 360i’s tagline at one point was “navigating where there are no roads,” and Sarah has embodied that as long as I’ve known her, and before.
What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
We need honesty, accountability, and transparency. We need those to be defining characteristics of companies in advertising and marketing, of leaders, and also of the industry overall.
There are too many shortcuts going on across buyers, sellers, and everyone in between. Too many in the industry are focused on optimising around generating the most impressions and, inflating valuations, rather than delivering value to customers and taking care of their teams.
Beyond that though, to attract the next generation of talent, it’s not enough that we are good; we also have to do good. Purpose matters. How can the marketing, advertising, and digital fields address some of the global crises right now like climate change and misinformation?
The fact is we need so many heroes right now. We need climate heroes. We need DEI heroes. We need democracy heroes. We need education heroes. We need empathy heroes. We need truth heroes. We need companies to put up job ads left and right that say, “Heroes wanted.”
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
I don’t think anything I’ve done is heroic, even if I have some achievements I’m proud of. I have too many real heroes to consider myself part of their pantheon. But one achievement I’m proud of is founding the Serial Marketers community four years ago that’s now 3,000 members strong. It’s a place where quite a few members have made meaningful connections, sourced business deals, found jobs, hired talent, and furthered their goals in some way.
It’s the one club I joined that’d have me as a member, and most days, it’s hard to process that it’s a club I started and continue to lead.