Beth Wallace was introduced to the listeners of Paleo Ad Tech during our Joe Zawadzki episode where the founder of MediaMath mentioned his experience in the early 2000’s with his graciously demanding client at AOL – a client who, in the grand tradition, pushed Joe and his tyro team at Poindexter to innovate faster. That client was Beth Wallace. Now CEO of Big Lens, a digital media agency based in Reston Virginia, Beth is a long-time consumer and direct marketing and media practitioner who joined Meredith in Des Moines, Iowa after getting her MBA at Northwestern. Part of a management training program, she rapidly found an affinity with direct mail methods of customer acquisition, which – as she tells Marty and Jill in this episode – were very similar to today’s digital marketing mojo, but more exact.
Joining AOL in 2001 (the same year AOL acquired Time Warner in what was then the biggest merger in U.S. history), our ad tech pioneer set out to apply the rigor of DM to digital acquisition, frustrated that ads were bought online they way they were on TV. Working with Poindexter (later [x+1]) and DoubleClick, among others, she was the savvy, deep-pocketed client for a range of ad tech pioneers such as Joe Z., Mike Walrath and Ramsey McGrory of Right Media, and Mike Rubenstein of DoubleClick and then Google.
In this episode, Beth shares her hopes and dreams for AOL customer acquisition, how ad targeting and measurement was done in the early ’00s, and how she tried to improve efficiency and effectiveness for her campaigns at AOL. Along the way, she provides some fascinating color about the AOL culture and working methods and apercus of ad tech’s finest in the years when they were “just kids.”