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Founder, The Directional Group
New York City
When Judith Hamerman worked in ad sales at Financial Planning magazine in 1993, the company gave Internet banner ads away to clients who advertised in the print edition. “We didn’t know how to price and charge advertisers for them,” Hamerman recalls. “The biggest challenge for marketers with the Internet, especially back then, was, can you get scale? You didn’t have the numbers online that you have today.”
Oh, how the media world has changed. And Hamerman has had a front-row seat on the wild ride.
Hamerman has focused her advertising and marketing career on media outlets in San Francisco and Manhattan that embraced new technologies. Before founding The Directional Group, her own media and technology consulting firm, she worked in ad sales management for Computerworld and such Time Warner properties as Fortune and Fortune Small Business.
For many in the media world, getting hired by Time Warner would mean you made it. Among Hamerman’s West Coast set during the dot-com boom, however, she was an anomaly. “I was going to work for a traditional media company, and my friends looked at me like I had three eyes because I wasn‘t at a startup,” she says.
But learning how to operate in a Fortune 500 company was integral to breaking out on her own — as was attending the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program. “Earning an MBA from two top schools gave me much more credibility,” Hamerman says.
When Hamerman struck out on her own two years after earning her MBA, her goals were clear: “It was a pivotal time in the industry with Web 2.0 really coming to the forefront. Starting this company was about me seeing where the industry is and where it’s going,” she says. “We’ve been an industry in tremendous transition. I wanted to see how things were done outside of the Fortune 500.”
One of her clients is Hub Culture Ltd., a social media site for professionals worldwide that blends both physical and virtual worlds. The company sponsored the Hub Culture Pavilion at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, offering meeting areas, lectures, and workspace to attendees, as well exclusive video footage to members worldwide. The company’s revenue model is based on a digital currency.
“We’re continuing to figure out new models, continuing to understand what people will pay for,” says Hamerman. But, she adds, one thing is for sure: “People are not going to stop consuming entertainment and content.”
Judith Hamerman, BCEMBA 04