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MSLCE Students Talk Advertising + Media Strategies with Medill Professor Judy Franks

By Charlie Wein

It’s no question that these days, our lives revolve around our digital devices. Whether it be social interaction through Facebook and Twitter, artistic expression through Instagram and Pinterest, or even in keeping up with current events, we are more likely to access our preferred news outlets by digital means through our phones and tablets. Why? The simplest answer…convenience. Some days, we probably spend more time looking at screens than the world around us, and many industries were forced to shift their business practices to adapt to this digital world. Most notably, the business of advertising.

The graduate students in the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program had the opportunity to sit down with Northwestern Professor Judy Franks to discuss the matter of advertising in a digital age. Judy Franks has over 30 years of experience in the advertising and media strategies industries and currently teaches for the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.

Judy provided many perspectives concerning digital advertising. One particular quote stood out. “Digital media has changed the world, and not necessarily for the better”. Advertising a product successfully is a complex endeavor. In print media, advertising is carefully designed and placed strategically in mediums that will best reach the target audience. The same is attempted in the digital world. However, there are many more hurdles for advertisers to jump over to ensure their ads are being publicized as expected; ad blockers, ad fraud, and stacking (placing one ad on top of another ad) to name a few. Advertisers are being forced to spend additional money to circumvent these roadblocks, and as Judy points out, this is not just a detriment to the advertiser, but to us as consumers. We are bombarded with digital advertising daily, much of which is ineffective, and frankly, dishonest. Judy commented on practices such as markets paying B-list celebrities to aggressively push products on social media, or paying for positive reviews on Yelp or Google; “Markets are buying what should be earned”.

Judy offered insight to the many positive aspects of advertising and marketing strategies. Ways to successfully build a constructive relationship between the advertiser and consumer, and enlightened students interested in the industry to the many career opportunities available to them. One such student, Ella Yuan, offered her takeaway, “She mentioned a lot of different media/ad related possible work opportunities, such as the ad full service, the ad tech, data scientist, direct media, etc. She opened my eye to different working paths that I can go into in my future career”. At the end of the lecture, Judy offered perhaps the most important advice. When working in the industry “Don’t forget your own experience as a consumer”.

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