We exchanged emails for this interview and it has been slightly condensed and edited.
Marc Goldberg: Brian the other day you were walking your dog on my block. Was it a pleasant experience?
Brian Leder : Ha yes! Stalker.
MG: Listen that is why I have a RING for people like you! Anywho you are a friend and neighbor and thought your story is a good one. Can you let people know about your journey?
BL: Sure, after spending the first phase of my career on the publisher side, both at CBS, The WB (remember them) and seven years in Silicon Valley at Yahoo!, I made the jump to the agency holding company world. After 11 years working across a variety of agencies in senior level roles in Chicago and New York, I decided that I could more effectively serve brands as an independent entity.
MG: So at Ramp97, are you positioned as an independent agency or consultancy?
BL: We’ve actually created a new breed of agency that bridges both roles. We hear from brand marketers there’s a continued absence of senior level strategic thinking and involvement on their business, and a need for a fully transparent and agnostic partner that can execute integrated media planning and buying on their behalf across all channels.
MG: So wait you are buying TV? People still do that?
BL: Ha, yes…it’s still an effective and efficient reach vehicle. The difference is we’re taking a data driven approach when it comes to planning and buying traditional linear TV, and integrating connected TV and online video, all with the goal of driving greater effectiveness, cost efficiency and transparency. Translation, we’re seeing better results and saving brands a significant amount of their working budget that they can reinvest back into their campaign.
MG: Are you seeing any different trends during the pandemic with TV? Usage higher? Netflix and other streaming?
BL: It’s been fascinating to see what services like Disney+ and HBOMax have accomplished during this pandemic to transform how we consume television and film. Shows like The Mandalorian and Wandavision have effectively revived appointment television, successfully leveraging social to build anticipation and sustain viewership week over week. To go even further and change the theatre-going business model by enabling a first run motion picture experience to stream straight into your living room (in some cases for free with your existing subscription) will have lasting effects on consumers and the industry.
MG: Are you seeing any different trends during the pandemic other than TV?
BL: Oh for sure, you’ve no doubt read that commerce has accelerated during the pandemic. While our clients have certainly reaped the benefit, it’s become about guiding them to better capitalize on a bigger opportunity as they evolve their brand. By that I mean being cognizant of the omnichannel consumer, not focusing on one aspect, but crafting a media and business strategy that provides the best brand experience for the consumer, anticipating when, where and how they’re most comfortable buying.
MG: What do you think the pandemic has done to the client / agency relationship?
BL: Great question, I believe that there are agencies that rose to the challenge despite their own organizational adversity to help their clients through a tough time. That said, I’ve also heard far more stories around how the pandemic has done nothing but further degrade an already tenuous relationship around agency confidence and trust. Those that took the path of profits over partnership will no doubt feel the impact this year as they likely lose clients.
MG: That’s a scary thought, I didn’t think it was possible to get worse. So how did you approach the pandemic with your clients?
BL: For us, it was always about operating with trust, transparency and integrity. We believe that if we help our clients grow and succeed, even in the toughest of times, that’s a true level of partnership that all agencies should aspire to. A key part of that success is to invest in our clients, with senior level talent to solve the tough challenges ahead, it’s easy to relegate account ownership to inexpensive junior level talent just to keep the bottom line low, but that’s short term thinking.
MG: So imagine a world where everything is back. Where are you going first?
BL:Definitely going to Hawaii
MG: Whoh, not Glen Rock Inn with me?
BL: Um no. My family still likes me. When we lived on the west coast it was an easy trip, but now living on the east coast a bit more of a challenge. I’m really looking forward to both getting on a plane again, and feeling comfortable flying that many hours, let along going to restaurants and shops without a pandemic looming – that would be amazing.
MG: I know you have a Peloton, who is your favorite instructor?
BL: Frankly any trainer who can keep me focused and motivated for at least 30-45 minutes, but Alex Toussaint and Denis Morton tend to pop to the top of my list.
MG: Want to race?
BL: No you are super fast and better than me. (Editor note, Editor wrote this line…. 😉