Young Guns: MediaCom digital performance director Sarah Goh

By AdNews | 17 August 2017
Sarah Goh

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

For our last Young Gun, to digital accont director at GroupM's [m] Platform, Dominique Netto.

This week we head to Sydney to speak to MediaCom digital performance director, Sarah Goh.

How long have you been in the industry?

Six years.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

One and a half years in my current role and nearly five years at MediaCom.

What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig?

Prior to MediaCom, I was working at a digital agency as a paid search coordinator. It was there where I first started developing a passion for everything search.

During an interagency meeting, I met the MediaCom performance team and was really impressed by the work they were able to do as a full-service agency. Wanting to be exposed to a wider scope of channels and functions, I took the role at MediaCom and never looked back. Over the course of five years, MediaCom has allowed me to develop and progress in my career, from a search executive to a digital performance director.

Define your job in one word:

Multidimensional

What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?

That it would be a well-dressed industry filled with parties and people talking all day.

How does the reality match up?

We are definitely a well-dressed industry; but more importantly one that encourages you to express your sense of self both visually and more importantly through your work.

In my role, there is also definitely more number crunching and analyzing involved. Given the nature of digital campaigns, we are exposed to a wealth of data and for me this is the most exciting part as we are now able to work more closely alongside marketing managers in better understanding their customers.

And above all, it must be said that there is still a strong work ethic in this industry; everyone is passionate and takes a lot of pride in their work.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?

MediaCom has evolved over the past two years to become more digitally focused. We look to solve business problems, providing solutions that extend outside of just media buying.

My role involves leading the digital travel team to deliver best in class campaigns that drive business results. One of the exciting projects that we are working on for a travel client at the moment is delivering an end-to-end solution for Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO). This included an upfront analysis to size-up the opportunity and defining the decision tree to developing the creative templates via our in-house content team, MediaCom Beyond Advertising and managing the feed. This project really shows the strides we have taken as an agency to connect data, creative and media expertise into a business solution for our clients.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

The ever-changing digital media landscape; this keeps me on my toes but also keeps me stimulated. I am constantly learning and this to me is the most important thing in a job.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

Learn to say 'no', sometimes you just need to. Managing expectations is the most important thing at work (and in life) and saying ‘no’ when it is required will allow you to do what’s best for you, your team and clients.

Also, never take things personally and never let it fester. Rather than dwell on it, it is important to address and discuss challenges as you’ll find that everyone comes out of it in a better position.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?

It would have to be our business science team. It is just beautiful what the team does; exploring data to uncover trends, behaviours and stories that are masked behind the numbers.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - we probably don't realise how much of our lives are now intertwined with a form of AI. For it to have permeated our phones and homes, it is not long before we'll need to learn to coexist with AI at work.

There has been a lot of opinion pieces around this topic from both ends of the spectrum, particularly around the displacement of jobs. Personally, I think that the relief that AI will provide around executing routine tasks will give us the opportunity to further our skills in tasks that require more creative thinking.

I’d also like to think that the onset of these technologies will only augment human intelligence, allowing us to uncover untapped regions of our brains.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

Overall as an industry we are not adapting our training and hiring quickly enough to the skills required for our ever-changing industry.

We need to start thinking ahead; with more tasks being automated, we need to define what skills will be important then and start shaping our roles now. For our industry, this could be developing talent in behavioural sciences so that we are able to elevate our understanding and deepen the connection with the consumer.

Who guides you day to day?

My sister, Shelley. Although she is not in the same industry, being the older one, she is always able to pave the way and provide (in my opinion) very grounded advice.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

My group director, Mark Johnson. He has been a massive support to me since I joined MediaCom and has always been my test bed for ideas. I can always count on him to provide a different perspective. Watch out MJ ;)

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in 2020 and how do you plan on getting there?

This is definitely the toughest question of the lot. I didn't imagine my role would be what it is now three years ago, so it is challenging to predict what it would be in 2020.

But if I had to say, it would be working in an industry where tech is at the forefront. To get there, I’ll remind myself to always keep an open mind and to never stop learning.

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

The increasing savviness of consumers when it comes to data collection and privacy.

Gen Z (and onwards) would have grown up with technology and will be aware of the trade-off in regards to privacy when something is offered for free.

With paid subscription services increasing in popularity, our industry would need to start assessing what ‘advertising’ might look like in the next five years.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

TED Talks - it is always inspiring hearing others speak passionately about their cause, their work and their life.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

That I legitimately considered studying fashion design in uni. But after doing a pros and cons list ended up in media and communications (no regrets there).

Favourite advert is:

This is probably one of my favourites and it is contextually relevant to our industry. I’m sure you will all find this relatable.

What’s your personal motto?

Be curious, always.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc. because:

I was fascinated about how communications was changing then with the onset of digital technologies and the implications it had on us as a species. And I still am.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Running my own stationery store. As digital as I'd like to be, I'm still obsessed with paper and ink.

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