ImpreMedia’s CEO Ivan Adaime: “Putting Your User First Always Pays Off”
What: We spoke to Ivan Adaime, recently appointed CEO at ImpreMedia, about what he's learned from his time at the company and what he forecasts for these rapidly-changing times.
Why it matters: ImpreMedia's years of experience with Hispanic audiences and Ivan's career path are an example of how hard work, willingness to adapt and an ability to recognize your strengths are the basic requirements for success in the digital age.
Ivan Adaime first arrived at ImpreMedia, a New York-based media company that targets U.S. Hispanic audiences, as VP, Digital in 2012. Just a few weeks ago, he was promoted to CEO. We touched base with him in order to revisit his learnings throughout his time at the company and find out about what he envisions for this new transition that has placed him at the forefront of the initiative.
Portada: You have been working at ImpreMedia for almost 7 years. How would you summarize this experience?
Ivan Adaime: It has been a great experience full of learnings. A little bit over six years ago, we put in place a new strategy for our digital offerings. Since then, our audience has been growing year over year and is now 10 times higher than it was 6 years ago. We reach now over one million users daily and have over a quarter million of active newsletter subscribers.
It wasn’t a straight line though. The media landscape changed wildly and we had our fair share of mistakes and self-inflicted wounds, but we learned from them all. Once the content, the user experience, and the audience were in place, we started to get results on the revenue front, increased in the last years due to programmatic.
Portada: What are some valuable things that you have learned in the last 5 years?
I.A.: We learned that putting your user first always pays off. The rest, including monetization, will follow. Since we don’t do any paid audience acquisition, we focused on satisfying our readers' need to grow. Therefore, we invested mainly in two main areas: content and technology that allow us to offer a great user experience.
We also learned a great deal working with data. It has helped us understand much better what our audience and advertisers value. In many cases is not what we think that they value. Working with data is not plug and play, though. You first need to know what you want to know. Only then you’ll be able to mine for the data that will help you take the best product and business decisions.
Most importantly, we learned how important focus is. There are so many opportunities in media today, but you can’t follow them all. You need to go after those that make sense to you. If not, you’ll lose many resources pursuing opportunities that are not meant to be.
We learned that putting your user first always pays off. The rest, including monetization, will follow.
Portada: What is the future of Spanish-language digital media in the U.S?
I.A.: I think it faces a great future as it has and will have a sizable audience willing to consume media in Spanish. This segment of the U.S. population is here to stay. On top, all reports forecast that a good portion of the population growth in this country will come from Hispanics, either already living within or new immigrants. But this audience’s media habits are changing rapidly, thus the opportunities will be greater for media that are able to adapt to these changes and build sustainable business models.
Portada: We understand ImpreMedia sells a substantial amount of its digital inventory programmatically, can you explain why this offering has grown and what the growth drivers are?
I.A.: That is correct, most of our digital revenues are programmatic and that's what has been fueling our growth year over year. Since we saw 2 or 3 years ago that the shift to programmatic was inevitable, we put a lot of effort into updating our ad stack. One thing is having it structured for direct sales, but it's very different having it optimized for programmatic. We invested a lot of resources on data, improving page speed loading times, viewability and combating ad fraud.
We are the only Hispanic publisher that has the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)’s certification for improving transparency and fraudulent advertising. We cleaned up the user experience and removed all intrusive ad formats from our websites. In short, we greatly improved the quality of our inventory. And that translated into a much greater yield. Add to the mix our audience growth and you have pretty much the main drivers of our programmatic reality.
Working with data is not plug and play. You first need to know what you want to know.
Portada: Who are your main partners in the programmatic offering on the DSP side?
I.A.: We tend to work with the main players in the digital advertising ecosystem: Google, Amazon, AppNexus. We are connected with the main exchanges via server-to-server bidding and we have PMPs active with agencies and advertisers through several DSP platforms. We too do work with smaller companies that add genuine inventory demand, the one that cannot be found in the exchanges.
Portada: What do you think will be the role of video? Do you think publishers have an important opportunity getting audiovisual (TV) budgets going forward?
I.A.: Some publishers might have an opportunity, but it is not a battle that all publishers should fight. For some it would make sense; for others, definitely not. Timing is also important. The infamous “Pivot to Video” that left a good number of casualties in the media ecosystem should be an important lesson moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, our video offerings are growing year over year, and most likely will continue to do so, but we are doing it at our own pace.
Opportunities will be greater for media that are able to adapt to changes and build sustainable business models.
Portada: The roots of ImpreMedia are in newspaper publishing, how are these roots reflected in ImpreMedia's DNA today?
I.A.: Our roots are well reflected in our commitment to stand for —and to super-serve— our community when it matters most. That hasn’t changed a bit and is our daily guide. What is very different is the audience that we reach in the digital front 95% comes from a mobile device, 60% is under 45 years old, predominantly women. Thus the content and the way to reach them is very different.
Portada: What role do you see for print media going forward at ImpreMedia?
I.A.: It definitely has a role as we still have a sizable audience that wants to engage with our print products on a regular basis.
Portada: What will the salient features of ImpreMedia be in 5 years?
I.A.: We’ve been living in a period of rapid change and most likely this will continue. We are seeing a lot of great opportunities in the near future. If we succeed in pursuing them, in five years our audience will be even bigger and more engaged than it is today. But we will follow each opportunity responsibly. We are committed to building a company for the long run, one that is able to survive platform and user-consumption changes. To do so we need to be humble and agile to read and react to those changes. Therefore, we will continue to operate in a nimble way, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths and pursuing new opportunities in our own terms.