Podcast: Kavata Mbondo Stays In The Picture

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Kavata Mbondo presided over Time Inc.’s ad business during a period of dramatic upheaval for traditional media companies. When she started there, the iPhone didn’t exist, Facebook was a young scrapper and programmatic wasn’t quite a thing.

Mbondo recently left Time Inc. for a new venture: helping Getty Images launch a consumer-facing media business called FOTO. In this episode, she reflects on her years in digital media and describes the new publishing venture.

Getty Images is a B2B destination, but more than 95% of its visitors weren’t there to buy its assets. They were arriving primarily through searches for news, sports and celebrities.

“We have this large population of consumers who are showing up at a site that isn’t designed for them,” Mbondo says in this week’s episode of AdExchanger Talks. “The goal of FOTO was to create a destination for those Getty Images visitors who come in to be entertained.”

The site launched with programmatic monetization and is now expanding into sponsorship sales linked to events. In the episode she goes deep on the ad model, distribution and data assets.

Looking back on the last 10 years in digital publishing, Mbondo says, “Programmatic really rocked the world of a legacy publisher. Technology became king, data became queen and the conversations changed radically. The language evolved so quickly. You can imagine the learning curve [for] a traditional seller.”

But she says the programmatic economy has not left those older sellers behind. On the contrary, she argues age matters far less than humility and willingness to learn when it comes to career growth. And the typically larger networks of mid-career folks also provide an advantage.

“When you start in this industry, you think one day you’ll gain expertise and be really good at something,” she says. “The reality of the matter is, you never get to a point of expertise in this industry, because there’s always a surprise lurking in the corner. Never get comfortable.”

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