While a fragmented media world presents challenges to media planners, Coleen Kuehn, president, strategy and planning at MediaVest, chooses to see the opportunities.
“In the past, it was certainly more straightforward, the planning and buying of media. But there were so many more unknowns,” Kuehn says. “Now we get so much more feedback and so much understanding about what we’re doing and how effective we’re being. Because we can target through the use of digital media or advanced television, we can get a sense of not only who’s seeing our ads and our communication, but who’s engaging with them.”
Kuehn says consumers can be targeted much more specifically than ever: “We can see the behavior online, we can see it through some advanced television platforms. And the oldest form of media, out of home, has now become new and hip and has all these digital components where you can interact with some of these out-ofhome placements.”
Media planners also have new tools, like buzz monitoring to see how people feel about client brands and even specific messages the agency disseminates. Recently, MediaVest has been able to use Audience on Demand to gather real-time information on consumers and their behaviors. Created by the agency’s parent company ViviKi, it enables the agency to take a closer look at whether relevant consumers are focused on collecting recipes or clipping coupons and act accordingly on behalf of, say, a food client.
“It sounds complicated, but it is really simple and it’s doing more meaningful marketing in real time,” Kuehn says. All of these advances are “really satisfying, because in the past it was almost as if you took a test and you never really got a score or a grade. And who wants that, unless you’re a terrible student.”
Kuehn was born in New York, but moved to Birmingham, Ala., when she was 5. “I had a very strong interest in understanding how people think and what motivates them,” she recalls. She studied business and psychology undergrad at Tulane University, but her first job was in Washington, working for Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
After three years, she decided to attend the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. While getting her MBA, she worked as an intern at Intel.
After graduation, Kuehn joined American Express to work on new products. She helped create early online banking products, working with both creative agencies and media agencies. Over five years, she says she gravitated more toward the media side. At that point, she was recruited by MediaCom CEO Alec Gerster, who in 1999 asked her to run the agency’s digital media unit. That gave her an opportunity to work with Procter & Gamble, without moving to Cincinnati. While she was there, P&G went from having four brands online to 40.
She then became interested in integrated communications planning and moved to MPG as executive VP, chief strategist in 2003. She joined MediaVest earlier this year.
Joining MediaVest enabled Kuehn to work with “great talent and a great client list” including P&G, Kraft, Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.
The other attractive thing about MediaVest is they have fully integrated their digital team, making it easier to put together smart, seamless communications plans. “You have to put aside the different organizations and the separate P&Ls and really focus on the clients,” Kuehn says. “I felt that was something I’d be able to do at MediaVest.”
As a youngster, Kuehn grew up playing competitive tennis and remains an avid racquet fan. “It’s something I’m trying to keep up with,” she says. Now she’s trying to teach the sport to her children, Olivia, Hanes and Annabel. “That’s the hardest job, teaching your kids. But it’s also pretty satisfying.”
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