Pulpo Media’s Laura Willis, “I Bring a True Passion to My Career, and This is a Really Crucial Time for Our Industry”

What: Laura Willis, who was formerly Senior Sales Director at Pulpo Media, has returned to the company as VP of Digital Sales.
Why it matters: With her experience in advertising and media planning, and specifically in the multicultural space, Willis is a great addition to Pulpo Media's Digital Sales team.

Pulpo Media, an online ad network with access to proprietary data and technology that allows for the placement of ads specifically targeted at Hispanics across different channels, recently announced the appointment of Laura Willis as VP of Digital Sales. This marks Willis' return to Pulpo; after fulfilling the role of Senior Sales Director in 2017, she filled the position of Director of Integrated Sales at Meredith/People en Español for almost a year before Pulpo tapped her as Digital Sales VP. At Portada, we sat down with Willis in order to find out more about her perspective for the next year and what she brings to the table at the company.

Portada: It's an exciting time for Pulpo in that it's launching new products and adding new staff, how was it that the decision was made for you to come back to the company? 

Laura Willis: The decision was easy, and I’m thrilled to be joining the team. I’ve been on both sides of the “fence” with Pulpo in that I’ve been a client working with their media team and I’ve also worked for the company. I’ve been following their progress and seeing how the company has continued to evolve and adapt to the marketplace; with new products, stepping up to meet ever more restrictive industry needs, and expanding its team with great people. You couple all this with the fact that Pulpo is recognized by Ad Age for the 4th year in a row now as the largest Hispanic network, and I see the potential for great things for Pulpo and our clients.

If you don't have the scale, you can't have an impactful campaign—that's media 101.

Portada: What do you think you'll be bringing to the table to help Pulpo advance its growth? What makes you uniquely qualified in the space?

LW: Foremost, I consider myself as a Hispanic marketing advocate, and I bring a true passion to my career. I feel that this is a really crucial time for our industry, and brands need to take an active role to show that the Latinx consumer is valued and appreciated.

Most of my career was spent on the agency side, and I’ve helped brands develop their Hispanic communication strategy. I get to continue that here but working at a larger level to make sure that our advertisers are able to get their message out at scale – something that has been a challenge in the past.

Portada: What sets Pulpo apart from its competitors?

LW: Pulpo delivers Hispanic audiences at a scale that is unparalleled. Our next largest competitor reaches half the size we do. That’s really important because it allows us to get granular with our targeting, whether that’s targeting a Type 2 Diabetic Hispanic for a pharmaceutical advertiser or a new mom for a retailer. If you don’t have the scale you can’t have an impactful campaign – that’s media 101. And soon we’ll be making it even easier for our advertisers to reach vertical audiences with the rollout of specific content verticals and some other offerings we’ll be bringing to market in the upcoming months.

The most important thing is to be culturally relevant because cultural passion points will transcend language.

Portada: Recent studies indicate mobile will account for over 72% of all digital ad spend by 2020, how do you see Pulpo preparing for this?

LV: Because our focus is the Hispanic market, we reached 70%+ mobile delivery a few years ago. What happened is that we started recommending to our partners that if they have desktop and mobile, to put it on as a blended line so we can optimize to the best performing units—and of course mobile was outperforming. That said, we are investing heavily so we can make sure that our offering is keeping up with the latest advertiser needs and channels.

Portada: Given today's environment where Hispanics are becoming more acculturated, how do you target them effectively across different levels of acculturation?

LV: We feel that the most important thing is to be culturally relevant – because cultural passion points will transcend language, and I’ve seen throughout my career when marketers talk about acculturation what they are really asking is: what’s the right language? And there is not an easy answer because the Latinx consumer lives on a spectrum: there is not a prototypical Hispanic, there are generational differences, nuances from country of origin, and regional differences in where one lives in the U.S. At the core of what we do, we’ve developed a data-driven targeting platform that allows us to reach Hispanics in a precise and relevant matter. The more relevant we become, the less waste we have for clients which in turn allows us to deliver the best ROI. So focus on the commonalities and be relevant.

Portada: What do you like to do when you’re not thinking about marketing?

LV: I’m in two book clubs and I recently started taking cello lessons- which I love despite how cumbersome it is to get around the New York City subways with it! I guess I would describe myself a life-long learner. I love being curious and developing new skills and learning new things.


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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