Brian Sherman of A Million Ads: “Learn something new every day ”

Learn something new every day — This one is pretty straightforward. If you can learn something new every day then you are constantly building a bigger base of knowledge that will help you in all aspects of life. Sometimes I learn something new at work, or how to be a better parent, or simply how to fix […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Learn something new every day — This one is pretty straightforward. If you can learn something new every day then you are constantly building a bigger base of knowledge that will help you in all aspects of life. Sometimes I learn something new at work, or how to be a better parent, or simply how to fix something in my home. Following this mindset, I am constantly curious and push to learn all I can from everyone around me. It’s important to be curious and ask questions.

The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Sherman.

Brian Sherman is the VP Sales, North America at A Million Ads, where he is responsible for driving revenue growth and building out their US operations which includes Sales, Partnerships, Account Management, and Creative Services. His team is bringing their dynamic audio technology to brands, publishers and DSPs across the US. Brian has spent the last 10+ years in the digital media world, working at various publishers and startups, such as CBS Interactive, Live Nation, SoundCloud, and Zefr. At A Million Ads, Brian is able to combine his passion for music and audio with his background in media and technology.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I got my start in the media world, working at College Sports TV, which was eventually bought by CBS. After the acquisition I had the opportunity to join the CBS Sports digital team where I worked on some of the biggest sports events like March Madness, The Masters, and Fantasy Football. It was amazing getting the chance to be part of the digital platforms for some of the events I grew up watching. Throughout my career, I have always felt that you need to be excited by the company and product you are representing. That’s why I joined organizations like Live Nation, SoundCloud, and now A Million Ads.

As my career progressed, I was interested in joining smaller start-ups that are ahead of the curve on the latest innovations. A Million Ads offers just that, since we’re bringing a new audio technology to brands, publishers, and DSPs across the US.

I’m the VP, NA Sales, responsible for driving revenue growth and building out our US operations and partnerships across the audio landscape.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Working at an international start-up is always interesting! You get exposed to different cultures and ways of thinking, which I’ve always loved. SoundCloud is based out of Berlin and A Million Ads is based out of London, so I was able to spend time in both of those cities experiencing the people, culture and nightlife.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The only way to grow is to be uncomfortable.”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have found that my wife has given me the best advice throughout my career. She has been nothing but supportive, helps me build confidence in myself, and is always pushing me to grow, be uncomfortable and take on any challenge that arises.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

It’s not about the big things we do that bring goodness to the world, it’s the small things that lead to the biggest changes. I try to approach every meeting or interaction with a positive attitude that brings a bit of brightness to someone’s day, since at the current moment, we could all use that. I also push my team to be curious and challenge themselves so that they can grow their confidence in themselves.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting-edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

As consumers become more tech savvy, they expect personalized experiences when interacting with brands. Since advertising is how brands communicate with the world and ultimately their consumer, brands need to take into account this expectation of personalization.

The audio landscape has seen a massive shift over the last decade and brands are realizing that audio is a powerful format and provides an intimate space in which to speak directly to a listener. While there has been a shift in content, consumption and distribution, brands and platforms have forgotten about the most important touchpoint for the consumer…the audio ad!

At A Million Ads, we use data to create personalized digital audio advertising with more context and more relevance to better connect with people. Our campaigns have greater standout, higher recall and better engagement since we are speaking directly to the individual listener.

We use data to make our ads smart and relevant. This data could relate to the user (e.g. location, age or gender), their environment (e.g. time of day, weather) or even campaign data (such as deals or offers). When you combine creativity with technology, magic happens. This is how we create a unique and personalized audio ad, relevant to each listener where conscious and subconscious messaging can be used to catch attention and subtly build awareness.

Our Studio platform is a tool for audio producers and creatives to bring data right into the heart of their creative process. It links specific data points to audio and allows us to create millions of different ad variants within minutes. Studio then serves the finished product into existing ad-tech platforms.

We already work with world-leading brands such as eBay, Target, McDonald’s, Pepsi and Adidas, and more brands are taking advantage of this unique creative tech.

How do you think this might change the world?

While our tech may not change the world per say, we do believe we can make the audio experience better for consumers, publishers and brands. We can complement the listening experience, while also delivering a message that resonates with the listener because it’s been tailored to them. Gone are the days of the shouty, annoying radio advertisements that you hear over and over (which ultimately lead to a negative experience). We can bring audio ads up to par with other mediums like display, video, and social and create something consumers will value.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

While personalization is extremely powerful, it should also be handled with care to ensure ads stand out, but do not make consumers uncomfortable.

As a consumer, I want brands to know things about me like where I am, what day/time it is, etc. so I can have a tailored experience. However, I don’t want them to mention my children’s names or the fact that I snuck in an extra dessert last night…that would be over the line. We make sure that the ads we create don’t cross that line.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

When I first heard about A Million Ads, I thought the idea made so much sense that there had to have been several other companies doing it. What I found was that A Million Ads was the only one pioneering this vision of audio ads. I quickly realized I wanted to be part of that process and bring this innovative new tech to the US market.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We need the creative community to embrace this new innovation since it can simplify their work stream and allow them to have a bigger creative palette to utilize in the audio campaigns. We also need brands to change the way they think about their audio strategy. This tool allows them to think in longer terms, as well as bring bigger creative ideas to life utilizing the data available.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

While the pandemic had a big impact on the advertising industry, our dynamic product was able to help brands navigate out of this difficult situation. With changing restrictions and lockdowns all around the world, advertisers were able to react to the pandemic in real-time.

For example, restaurant chains could change their messaging from outdoor dining to delivery only whenever the conditions change, wherever that store’s location happens to be.

Consumer behavior also changed, but with many people continuing to work from home, streaming of digital audio, music and podcasts actually increased, giving advertisers more opportunities to speak to their consumers. The key is to get them the most relevant and up-to-date information possible.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t over think it — I know that I have a tendency to overthink any problem at hand. I mull over all the potential solutions, pitfalls, and outcomes. While this can be a helpful exercise, there are times when I end up not being able to make any decision at all. This delays conversations, projects, and even things outside of work! I’ve found that if you make your best educated guess at the solution and put yourself out there, that is the best step forward to coming up with the right answer. We can’t always be certain that we’re doing the right thing, but as long as we make our best effort to solve a challenge and have a clear idea as to why we think it’s the best path forward then that is the only solution we need.
  2. Learn something new every day — This one is pretty straightforward. If you can learn something new every day then you are constantly building a bigger base of knowledge that will help you in all aspects of life. Sometimes I learn something new at work, or how to be a better parent, or simply how to fix something in my home. Following this mindset, I am constantly curious and push to learn all I can from everyone around me. It’s important to be curious and ask questions.
  3. Plan the work, work the plan — We tend to look at what we want the outcome to be and question how we will ever get there. The task seems so daunting and impossible. However, I’ve found that if you break it down into smaller pieces and come up with a strategy about how you can get there, then the task doesn’t seem so daunting. If you plan the work ahead of time, and keep focused on executing that plan, then you will reach your outcome. At the least, you will have learnings as to why you may have missed, but the most important thing is to stay on track to reach your goal. Having a roadmap for that process is crucial to its success.
  4. One day at a time — Life has a tendency to be overwhelming at times. There are so many challenges we face every single day whether it’s related to work or life. I know that I have a tendency to think about the past and future quite often, but the truth is I can’t change the past and I have no way to predict the future. The only thing I can do is make the most out of today. As a goal, I try to make each day a positive one. If I can string together enough positive days, I end up with a positive week, and those weeks leads to positive months. Tackling each day as it comes helps focus my mind of the tasks at hand, instead of thinking about things that will just derail off my path.
  5. It’s ok to make mistakes — Making mistakes means we’re trying something new. If we take the safe path all the time, we will not end up growing or learning. I try and fail at things often. The key is to learn from those mistakes and be better the next time. I’ve crashed and burned at meetings before and during presentations, but instead of shying away the next time, I put myself back out there. I made sure I fixed the mistakes I made the last time so that it never happened again. This tip has helped me grow and develop both professionally and personally.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

People tend to think that it’s the big things people do that change the world, but I happen to think it’s about the everyday interactions that have the most effect. It’s the conversations with your family at the breakfast table, the morning check-ins with colleagues and the quick conversations with the people you meet on a given day that create a network effect of positivity (or negativity).

How can our readers further follow your work online?

A Million Ads:

Brian:

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Tips From The Top: One On One With Matthew Eichhorst

    by Adam Mendler
    Purpose//

    Advice FOR Millennials FROM Millennials

    by Alex Blynn
    Community//

    Kashi Sehgal of Gigabark: “Human beings need to communicate”

    by David Liu
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.