From Stock Picking to Media Planning for E-Commerce Growth

As someone aspiring to be an investment portfolio manager, my interest was in managing asset allocation of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. Banner advertising, PPC, and SEO spend were foreign territories. But delving into the world of e-commerce at meant managing hefty media budgets, aiming to attract new customers at a cost lower than the revenue. I needed to bridge the gap between my investment classes and the new world of online marketing. Lucky for me, along with a sizable media budget, I had the support of a skilled team of media buyers and quants who excel in advanced analytics.

Our approach was refreshingly simple. Starting with over thirty publishers catering to different segments of potential buyers, we experimented with a variety of properties, ad budgets, creative concepts, and promotional offers. Adding tracking pixels allowed us to continuously collect and analyze view and conversion metrics attribution, and at least once a week, we rigorously removed the bottom quartile performers from our portfolio and introduced new properties to replace them. Adding another layer of variables – seasonality, days of the week, and insertion times – turned our online media portfolio into a quant’s paradise.

With our spend reaching multiple millions each month (and revenue even higher), our media portfolio resembled a mutual fund spread-sheet rather than the pretty looking Power Points people were used to. Our approach proved extraordinarily successful, propelling’s e-commerce business to over $125 million in less than three years.

While my dream of becoming a portfolio manager in investment management didn’t materialize, I discovered a new and fascinating field. Looking back, the skills acquired managing the student investment fund of my alma mater easily transitioned into the world of online marketing. Read how the skillsets seamlessly matched up here.

To all the job seekers out there, uncover your true interests and strengths, sell your skills to a company, and showcase how they can leverage those skills, especially in new and emerging technology fields. You’ll be surprised at how your skills, rather than degrees, shape your career leading to extraordinary success for both you and your employer.

And for you employers – start hiring for skills. Taking a chance on your people pays off, because if you don’t, why should your customers take a chance on you? It’s a win-win scenario. Start hiring for skills now.