Matt Barash is Senior Vice President, Global Publishing & Platform Partnerships, Zeotap. His career stretches over two decades including most recently SVP of Strategy & Business Development at AdColony. Past programmatic leadership positions include roles at Forbes and News Corp (Fox Audience Network).
Who is your digital hero?
From the moment I met Mark Fruehan, I’ve always been inspired by his larger than life presence in every room he walks into. Mark has domain ownership of every nuance of his trade and the passion by which he relentlessly pursues excellence in every challenge he faces has been nothing short of inspiring. To me he was a manager, turned mentor, turned close confidant.
To the employees at Opera Mediaworks (where he was President and a co-founder) he was a leader and role model. And to our competitors at rival mobile ventures, he was a friendly adversary who strongly believed a rising tide lifts all ships. He is a class act in every sense of the word. All while being the consummate family man to his wife (Cherie) and two kids (Roman and Marcella).
What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?
Mark is a true legend.
He’s gritty, competitive and passionate with an unprecedented commitment to excellence and his professional track record speaks for itself. Mark’s work ethic and winning ways can be traced back to his days playing college football at Penn State for Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in FBS history. He is amongst a select club of former players who can wear a national championship ring and talk about the glory of winning it all, but with the enviable modesty.
Mark just wins, plain and simple and leaves it all out on the playing field. No matter what. No matter where.
At each stop along the way throughout his career, Mark has brought teams from all over the world together to collaborate and solve. He’s driven complicated business development deals at the highest executive levels and then an hour later sat with an entry level employee to help them navigate a new interface and optimize a campaign to maximize revenue because it brought the company one step closer to goal. He has always personified the concept of the selfless leader and a skilled deal maker.
Mark has always never shied away from a challenge. As his career has progressed, he’s shifted gears into the chatbot space and now the ecommerce space, where he leads Business Development for a really cool startup, Tradeswell.
How has his heroism helped drive digital?
Remember the never ending joke about “the year of mobile”? For far too long, the mobile economy and the “Lumascape” were completely bifurcated. Mark was a driving force to bridge the gap between the two markets.
Mark’s mission while at Opera Mediaworks leading the AdMarvel team globally was to drive significant growth on behalf of the developers he worked with and to improve campaign performance for the advertisers who entrusted his operation with their media investment.
As the composition of spend across in-app went from exclusively installs and downloads to a diversified blend of Fortune 500 brands demonstrating a commitment to testing new formats and addressable opportunities in mobile, Mark led the charge. He worked on countless DSP/network integrations to ensure that every major spender on the planet could transact across Opera supply efficiently and effectively and provided a true consultative approach to partners looking to dive into a new and unfamiliar space and mitigate any fear or risk in the process.
What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
2021 will mark the most transformational year in digital to date. Companies will have to adapt to a breadth of new challenges, starting with how they invest in people and culture.
The next digital hero will have an eye for talent, in a way that creates new corporate opportunity rather than relies on a legacy mindset. Digital desperately needs greater diversity – of background, of thought, of vision and skill. Heroes will think differently, win differently and measure success differently.
Tomorrow’s digital heroes are poised to challenge the status quo today. They won’t just be the movers, but rather the forward thinkers who dare to shake things up.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
The beauty of digital is that it will always remain an imperfect practice. For the past twenty years I have been lucky to work for and amongst some of the most incredible minds in the space. And yet no one will ever crack the code to enable a perfect advertising economy or culture.
So while it would be easy to point to KPIs around revenue growth or shout out major acquisitions I was fortunate to be a part of, the real answer is the pride I take in watching the hires that I’ve made throughout the years grow into the next generation of digital heroes, who are chipping away at that quest for perfection to drive better results, more innovative products and standards, a more meaningful workplace connections and ultimately a vastly improved industry.
And that future is happening now.