Young Guns: Exponential Interactive head of mobile, Nicole Liebmann

By AdNews | 19 January 2017
Nicole Liebmann

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the buzzing 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. Last week we spoke to Pacific Magazines group digital director, Neill Pitt.

This week, we head to Sydney to meet Exponential Interactive head of mobile, Nicole Liebmann.

How long have you been in the industry?

I’ve been involved in the mobile industry for almost eight years, since the very first ‘year of mobile’.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

Two and a half years.

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

I’ve always loved and specialised in the digital side of the advertising industry; from a career perspective I’m a digital native. In 2011 I narrowed my focus to mobile technology and advertising, first at Mobile Embrace and now Exponential.

Define your job in one word:


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

Long lunches, perks and hard work.

How does the reality match up? 

One of those has been pretty spot on.

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

Exponential delivers innovative advertising experiences that transform the way brands interact with audiences across desktop and mobile. My role is quite diverse and covers anything and everything to do with mobile advertising from strategy, through design, implementation and client management.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

There is never a dull moment and I love that I am constantly learning.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

I’d say never to underestimate the importance of trust and relationships in this business. There remains a lot of uncertainty and lack of understanding around mobile advertising, often complicated by the fact there are multiple vendors all talking the same talk and purporting to solve the same problems. This makes it hard for agencies and brands to know where to turn.

I’ve found that repeated success comes from taking the time to build deep relationships with clients, holding their hand when needed and of course driving exceptional results for them.

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

My glib response would be to say HR so that I could give myself more annual leave. I’m a travel junkie who is lucky enough to travel fairly extensively with work but never seem to have enough time to explore. My real response, however, is Strategy. This is because it offers the opportunity to work across all platforms and extends to the creative, financial and operational areas of business.

What's exciting you about the industry right now? 

That mobile is becoming a focal point of marketing, and the device opportunities are growing commensurately.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

Trump. And fraud. Which may be one and the same.

Who's your right hand person/who guides you day to day?

The one and only Tyler Greer our head of strategy for APAC. He has phenomenal intellect and has been a real mentor (as well as an all round good bloke).

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

They don’t exist yet because their job hasn’t been invented.

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

Watch this space.

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

That some mobile adverts are so poorly conceived and executed they go beyond being simply ineffective to having a negative impact on brand engagement. It drags down the industry and needs to be addressed.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I turn off for inspiration. That is, I spend so much time in the connected world I try to make time to digitally detox and find ideas and inspiration in books, from conversations with friends, from music and from just being (and not doing).

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

I saved my youngest sister’s life by giving her a bone marrow transplant.

Favourite advert is:

One that has always been a favourite is Lynx’s ‘Party Across the Internet’. This ad was quite different and very innovative for the time and when it was launched, the concept had never been experienced before.

More recently, I’ve stumbled upon the Sandy Hook Promise ad by BBDO New York which I think is amazing. It is one of those ads that leaves an impact and definitely gets the message across in a powerful way.

What’s your personal motto?

Fortune favours the brave.

I got into advertising because:

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

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

A primary school teacher.

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