The Digital Leadership Corner - Interview with Rick Song - Chief Revenue Officer at Telaria

 

Global digital disruption and the need for digital acceleration is impacting every industry imaginable and the race is on to upskill and engage current employees while attracting the best and brightest digital talent to help organizations stay relevant and navigate the future. Making it even harder for companies to stay ahead of the curve, technology is altering the competitive landscape daily and lowering the barriers to entry for startups even in the most highly regulated industries. According to a recent Capgemini Digital Transformation survey, over 50% of global organizations are currently facing a digital talent gap and over 70% of U.S. companies expect the digital talent gap to continue widening over the next few years.

One example of a sector undergoing a major digital transformation is the traditional TV industry where cord cutting is at an all-time high and is expected to increase significantly over the next decade. According to Parks Associates, an international market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology, 52% of U.S. broadband households have a subscription to both pay TV and one or more over the top (OTT) video services. OTTs distribute standalone streaming media over the internet while bypassing telecommunications, multichannel television, and broadcast television platforms. Companies like Telaria provide content providers and marketers with leading technology needed to transact via private marketplaces to reach connected TV consumers.

I am pleased to share my recent interview with the former 212NYC President and digital industry veteran Rick Song:

What attracted you to work for Telaria? Give me a brief overview of what you do.

The opportunity to build a global sales org within the premium video and CTV space. I oversee global revenue and sales strategy and responsible for expanding strategic Video advertising relationships with the top TV broadcasters, premium video and CTV companies, while deepening engagement with the leading agencies, DSPs and brands.

 

Can you tell us about your career journey leading up to becoming a CRO at Rocket Fuel and now at Telaria?

I started my career at a small ad agency as a buyer out of college and have spent 20+ years in the media industry, primarily in digital, working for companies including Forbes, Yahoo!, Microsoft, iHeartMedia and ZEFR. I have a passion for digital advertising which has led me to take on many roles and learn various sides of the business from content to video, to social and programmatic.

 

Throughout your career, you have been very involved in the advertising community; IAB, 212NYC, Ad Club of NY just to name a few. Tell us about some of the initiatives you are most excited about and any advice you have for professionals looking to get involved?

I find it’s important and incredibly gratifying to give back to the community. I’ve volunteered for several organizations and one I’m very passionate about is Young Audiences New York. They are a non-profit which raises funding for arts education programs for underserved NYC public schools. As a product of the NY public school system and as a proud Dad with three girls all involved in the performing arts, it’s a cause very close to my heart. My best advice is to first decide if you can commit the time. Then pick an organization that you’re particularly passionate about and really engage and contribute. If you’re just looking for something to add to your CV, don’t bother. Neither you nor the org will feel satisfied without real engagement.

 

What motivates you to do what you do?  What are you most excited or passionate about? 

I’m passionate about our industry and how technology continues to change how we communicate and consume – and the role advertising plays in it. What motivates me is the amazing people I get to work with on all sides of the business. At the end of the day, people matter, relationships matter.

 

Who were your mentors or people who deeply influenced you?

I’ve had many throughout my career and I’m a big proponent of having mentors in all aspects of our lives – both personal and professional. On the professional side, I think it’s important to reach out to people who inspire you – particularly outside your company -- and ask them for mentorship. Not all will have the time, but I’ve found most will offer some level of commitment.

 

What is the best advice that you have received?

Not sure who it was, but it’s a mantra I’ve carried throughout my career “Love what you do”.

 

With the rapid pace of digital acceleration, many new roles needed for the future of work have yet to be created.  We know that there will be a lag for universities to equip students with all of the new skills for those jobs. What skillset should professionals be building today to stay ahead of the game?

It may sound gratuitous, but I think amplified training and education on the role of data (and its implications on privacy) as it will continue to play a larger and larger role as marketers increasingly become more savvy, particularly in the use of their own 1st party data.

 

The war for talent is heating up. What are some best practices for leaders you can share that nurture employee engagement and retention and when retaining and attracting talent?

I’ve always been a proponent of building a lasting work culture and its long-term impact on the business. I think there are examples of companies that may have the hottest tech of the moment but have not focused on building a cohesive culture -- and as a result have not been able stabilize growth. I’ve always believed high-performing, productive teams only come out of positive work environments.

 

Based on your conversations with CMOs, how are they keeping up with the pace of change and preparing their organizations for the future?  

I think in recent years, the pressure for CMOs to be tech savvy and current on all aspects of technology has netted positive results. I point to Linda Boff at GE as a key example.

 

Thank you Rick! We appreciate you sharing your insights and look forward to having you back soon.

 

Linda Gharib is Director of Marketing Communications & Media at Wolters Kluwer, and an Adjunct Professor of Marketing & International Business at Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business. She can be reached at Professor.Linda@outlook.com.

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About Rick Song

Rick is the Chief Revenue Officer at Telaria and leads the company’s global sales organization. He oversees all revenue and sales strategy and is responsible for expanding strategic video advertising relationships with premium broadcasters, connected TV companies, leading advertising agencies, DSPs and brands. An accomplished business leader, with 20+ years’ experience in digital advertising, he has also held leadership positions at Rocket Fuel, ZEFR, iHeartMedia, and Microsoft. Rick currently serves as an officer and Board Director of The Ad Club of NY and is a past President and Board Director for 212 NYC. He is based in NY and holds a BA from Carnegie Mellon University.