MarTech Edge Interview with Justin Hansen, Co-Founder & COO, Media Tradecraft | Martech Edge | Best News on Marketing and Technology
MarTech Edge Interview with Justin Hansen, Co-Founder & COO, Media Tradecraft


MarTech Edge Interview with Justin Hansen, Co-Founder & COO, Media Tradecraft


Published on 20th Dec, 2023

Welcome, Justin! Could you provide an overview of your journey leading to the founding of Media Tradecraft? What challenges did you encounter in the process of establishing a next-generation media services firm?

It all began when I applied for a part-time job at Intermarkets while studying for my graduate degree in the Washington area. After graduating, I was fortunate to secure a full-time position as a yield analyst. My journey continued as I transitioned my data skills into ad operations, eventually leading to my role as the director of ad operations at Intermarkets.

During this time, Erik Requidan and I noticed a significant shift in how ad management firms were interacting with publishers. We saw an opportunity to create a better solution for both larger media companies and independent publishers, so we decided to take the leap and start Media Tradecraft in 2019.

What sets Media Tradecraft apart is its unique ability to construct fully customized revenue solutions for publishers through personalized, one-on-one service — something no one else in the industry provides. These bespoke strategies and one-to-one collaborations with publisher partners drive better results and, ultimately, more revenue for them. This approach requires more attention and work, but it allows Media Tradecraft to work with some of the world’s most well-recognized media companies.

Of course, starting our own company came with its fair share of challenges. Managing explosive growth has been one of the biggest hurdles. We have to stay true to our vision and principles, which sometimes means saying ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’ to potential partnerships with publishers. We also need to constantly hire to ensure we maintain a high level of customer service.

Looking back, I see that the journey has been an incredible one, filled with both triumphs and challenges. It’s been an exciting and rewarding experience, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve created and the recognition we’ve received from the industry.

Media Tradecraft specializes in bespoke digital advertising and monetization services for media companies. How does the company approach crafting custom ad strategies to meet the diverse needs of its customers?

Our approach begins with taking the time to understand the unique business goals, challenges, and audience of our clients, the publishers. This is a critical step because it allows us to build ad strategies aligned with their specific needs.

We firmly believe that each website should be distinct, and therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t suitable. Our team works diligently to ensure that the strategies we create are tailored to the individual publisher, optimizing all incremental revenue opportunities and maximizing the website’s true potential.

To stay ahead in this dynamic industry, we strongly emphasize being ahead of the latest developments and innovations. This ensures that our strategies are not only custom but also at the cutting edge of the industry, empowering our clients to remain competitive and relevant in the ever-changing digital ecosystem.

Can you elaborate on your approach to operational planning and execution as the COO of Media Tradecraft? How do you ensure your initiatives align with the overall business objectives?

First and foremost, maintaining close relationships with our publishers is paramount. We make it a priority to thoroughly understand their unique goals and requirements, which allows us to tailor our work accordingly to help meet these goals. Regular communication is a cornerstone of this relationship, and we conduct biweekly calls and meetings with our publishers to keep the lines of communication open.

Additionally, as COO of Media Tradecraft, I believe that clear and consistent communication within our internal teams is crucial. To ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards our common goals, we over-communicate with our development and operations teams. This means sharing not only the “what” but also the “why” behind our initiatives. It ensures that all team members are aligned and understand the bigger picture of what we want to deliver for our publishers.

You’ve mentioned yourself as being “obsessed with ensuring publisher success.” Could you share an example of a challenging situation you encountered while working on behalf of a publisher and how you navigated it to succeed?

In the realm of adtech, challenges are a daily occurrence because the industry evolves at such a rapid pace, with constant changes and disruptions. One particularly challenging situation that stands out was the early days of our own company, Media Tradecraft. It was an exciting time, but just a few months after our launch, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which profoundly impacted the entire media industry, resulting in massive declines.

In the end, through our hard work and custom strategies, many of our publishers experienced record revenue years despite the market’s severe downturn and overall industry depression. We were able to create new, unique approaches that maximized the value of every user and improved revenue even when CPMs were considerably deflated.

That experience reinforced our commitment to developing strategies that can weather the storms of the ever-evolving adtech landscape, and it remains a testament to our dedication to helping our publishers thrive.

How do you and your team stay agile in adapting strategies to overcome new obstacles and capitalize on emerging opportunities?

Staying agile and adaptable in our approach to overcoming new obstacles and seizing emerging opportunities is vital to what we do at Media Tradecraft. Our ability to do this is based on several factors: our diverse portfolio of publishers, extensive industry network, and a culture of testing.

We work with a vast array of publishers across different verticals, content types, backgrounds, and business goals. This diversity helps us adapt to various challenges. By drawing from our experiences with a wide range of publishers, we’re able to create truly customized and unique strategies. This also means that the strategies we develop are versatile and can be tailored to suit the specific needs of each publisher.

Maintaining strong relationships with various stakeholders in the digital advertising ecosystem, such as DSPs, SSPs, publishers, and more, is another key element of our agility. These connections enable us to stay at the forefront of emerging changes within the industry. By leveraging our network, we quickly adapt our strategies to align with the latest industry trends and opportunities.

At Media Tradecraft, we have a strong focus on testing. This means we are not afraid to experiment with new partnerships, ideas, and strategies. By testing and evaluating these new approaches, we can quickly identify what works and what doesn’t. This culture of experimentation and data-driven decision-making allows us to be responsive to changing conditions and refine our strategies based on real-world results.

Media Tradecraft has empowered publishers to garner over $245 million in revenue. Can you provide insights into how the company’s services contribute to such substantial revenue growth for your clients’ sites?

Our approach to achieving this impressive revenue growth is rooted in a deep understanding of each individual publisher’s or media group’s goals, needs, and specific requests. We firmly believe there is no cookie-cutter solution when it comes to this work, and tailoring our strategies to the unique circumstances of each publisher is crucial.

We don’t stop at bespoke solutions. We develop creative ideas, business practices, and data infrastructures that are designed to propel our clients’ revenue to new heights. These innovative solutions help our publishers stand out in a competitive digital landscape.

Media Tradecraft has been recognized as a Programmatic Power Player and has won several awards for its ad operations and consulting. How do these accolades reflect your dedication and expertise?

These accolades reflect everyone on our team’s collective hard work and commitment. What makes these awards particularly meaningful is the fact that professionals within our industry are the ones judging, voting, and deciding on the winners. This recognition from our peers and experts in the industry underscores the high regard and respect we’ve earned through our hard work.

While these awards are certainly a source of pride for us, the most meaningful feedback comes from our publisher partners. Their continued trust in our expertise is the ultimate award.