Category: Interviews

Your blog is an Island

I recently participated in an interviewbattle on Daily Blog Tips which puts bloggers head to head such as Rand Fishkin vs. Lee Odden . This one was of course vs TheFutureBuzz or Eric Friedman vs. Adam Singer

The final question was the catalyst for this post which I wanted to explore further.

10. What is the best way to increase website traffic?

Treat your blog like an island. It needs supplies, traffic ports, trade routes, and visitors to remain habitable. Ignore one or more of these metaphors and your blog can become a deserted and desolate island fast – pay attention to each and you will have a favorite destination of visitors who want to come back.

Treasure Island by Aaron Escobar

Treat your blog like an island
Your blog is out there in the ocean of other islands and can be washed away and forgotten, or turn into a thriving place to visit. By treated your web property like a real property you can gain long lasting value and not get discouraged when things are not going your way (read: no traffic)

Without the right supplies your blog will die.

Get a good commenting system in place early – I recommend Disqus
Get a good platform or infrastructure – I recommend WordPress

Traffic Ports
Building a good foundation means traffic can come to and from your blog in the easiest way possible. To help this process along I recommend a solid SEO plugin for WordPress. This also means getting ready for visitors and clearly explaining your purpose and who is writing. Providing clear and concise information can provider users with a much better experience.

Trade Routes
Provide a way to contact you! This is constantly forgotten and it is too easy to overlook this step. With a simple for from Wufooor even a WP plugin you can have a contact form up in minutes.

You also need to get out there and participate in conversations that interest you and pertain to your blog. Notice I did not say “go comment all over the place” but rather comment where you feel you have further questions about a post or can add to the dialogue. This builds a solid “trade route” between your blog and others as your name and URL should always point back to your island.

Establish links to your inspirational sources. These will usually be one way links, but in time the favor will be returned. As an established source of quality information your island will too become a place people WANT to link to.


Getting ready for visitors is important – especially in an age where too many visitors can sink your entire island and new people have nowhere to go. This metaphor can be explained by checking out the Digg effect or knowing that a lot of visitors can make a blog slow down. To avoid this use a simple cache plugin for WordPress.

You also need a clear and concise path for visitors to follow. Checkout one of your posts and see how it feels to navigate to each of your pages. Confused? So are your visitors. Give options, provide other links deeper into your site, and give opportunities to find more information.

I think this island metaphor is just about used up – but I hope it provides some insight into what is needed to create a successful blog. I learned some of these lessons the hard way so hopefully sharing them with you will save you the trouble.

Have other ideas? Let me know in the comments and prove that this blog is not a desolate island alone in the blogosphere!

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MTA Online – How The NYC Subway Transit System uses the Internet and Social Media

A few weeks ago I connected with Diane Chehab on Twitter who is an official representative for the MTA (NYC subway transit system) who helps customers and answers questions. I was interested to hear more about how the MTA is talking to customers online and using social media so I interviewed her to hear more. As one of the millions who rides the subway each day, I was interested to hear more.


1. What type of Social Media sites do you participate on for the MTA and why?

Our goal is always to provide as many ways as possible for our riders to obtain information about our services and activities. One of the first Social Media “activities” we engaged in was podcasting, on our own website at, in 2006. The news about the NYC Transit podcasts was featured on blogs around the world, in at least 6 languages.
We also set up our MetroCard Promotions as RSS feeds, in 2008. The first social networking site we participated in was Flickr, at the end of 2008, where we post photos of MetroCard Promotions events and wonderful New York City sightseeing photos from all five boroughs ( On Twitter, which we also started this year, we will be tweeting about MetroCard Promotions, sightseeing in NYC using public transportation, special events we are involved in, as well as some tourism-related articles, transit trivia, links to our podcasts and Flickr, and our sustainability efforts.

For the time being, we have four accounts on Twitter: MetroCardDiane, MetroCardMatt, NYCTChantal, and MetroCardLisa.

2. What have you learned about subway travelers via Twitter?

One thing we learned is that the word “MetroCard” is very frequently used, as it is ubiquitous in NYC residents’ purses, wallets and pockets! It is more personal than money and very much a part of daily life for New Yorkers.
Last year, in June, we had distributed customized MetroCards for the Bronx Zoo, featuring the image of a lemur: six months later, I read a “Tweet” that from someone who had just noticed, or just received, a MetroCard with a lemur image.

Interview with Motoko Hunt about Search around the World & SES Chicago 2008

I recently interviewed Motoko Hunt of AJPR for Search Engine Strategies Chicago where she will be speaking in the Search Around the World: Europe, Asia/Pacific & Latin America panel.

Motoko Hunt
Motoko Hunt

1. What is your background and what do you do for

On my first “real” job, I was a corporate interpreter/translator. Then I got into marketing, and worked as Senior Marketing and Procurement Manager at Japanese trading firm in California. I managed marketing and procurement contracts between the Japanese Government, Japanese Defense Agency, top companies in heavy industry, and the manufactures/suppliers in US. I learned great deal about how the business works locally and Internationally.

Back in mid 90’s, I started to do some web site localization and press release translation work for US businesses targeting Japanese market. Did some display ad purchases, e-mail marketing, site submissions… all the good stuff.

It’s great that now as a Search Marketing Strategist, I get to use my past experiences with language, International business and online marketing work to create search strategies for my clients.

2. International SEM and SEO have become more important in the last few years – what areas should people focus on?

With both SEO and SEM, you need to research the market before you enter. You’ll need the data from keyword research, competitive analysis, market trend, etc. to create effective campaigns.

In Japan, more than 85% of people search to gather information about the services or products that they plan to purchase. Search is what make or break your business now. If you are not sure of the market, the paid campaign is a good way to test the market, keywords and the messages.

If you are targeting Japan, China and Korea, the mobile search is something you should look into as it’s driving so many traffics in these markets.

International SEO and SEM are not just for Multinational Corporations, but also for mid-small businesses. I know many small businesses in US are doing great targeting Europe and/or Asia.

3. What are some resources US search marketers can use to get up to speed on International SEM?

You can find some great information on web. ComScore, Nielsen and eMarketer have great market data. Government websites such as Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has some good data, too.

Many blogs out there are good resources, too. I write about Asia and Japanese markets on my blog and Multilingual Search. has forums about International markets including Asia.

Also, if your company has offices or partner companies in other countries, talk to them. They know the market and their target audience.

4. What are some campaign successes or failures you can share recently involving a campaign both inside and outside the US?

It’s not a US company, but H&M just landed in Japan this Fall, and creating a good buzz in the market. They opened mobile site back in July about 2 months prior to the opening of the first store in Tokyo. Through online and off line advertising, they pushed people to mobile site where they ran the pre-opening campaigns to draw interests and create an initial customer base.

The press release was picked up by many bloggers and shopping related websites, which created more buzz for them. As a results, when they opened a website (PC version) in September, they had almost 600,000 accesses to the site in the first month.

This example is not just about SEO and SEM, but a great example of how SEO, SEM and mobile marketing should be integrated to bring a success.

5. What are some tips for optimizing your site for multilingual compatibility?

Once you optimize your site structures and templates, you can use the same one for all markets. You shouldn’t need to optimize the same structure and templates again and again. You do need to optimize the content for each market, and here are some issues to keep in mind:

SEO/SEM Guideline – Create a guideline for SEO and SEM campaigns, and train everyone involved in the process using that guideline. Once the process is started, enforce it so that everyone keeps following the guideline. Setting up a good reporting/monitoring system helps, too.

Domain structures – Engines are set to determine the country of the website using the hosting location and the domain’s country code extensions such as “.jp” and “.uk”. Even if you have a site targeting UK, if the domain is structured as the site won’t show up in the UK search results when the users set it to search UK websites. At least with Google, you can now set the Geo Targeting to tell Google that is their UK site.

6. What are the latest flash in the pan “memes” in International SEM and SEO?

“Globalization”. There are numbers of great benefit of Globalizing SEM and SEO campaigns. You can save time, money, manpower, etc. But at the same time, it is a huge challenge especially for a large size corporation to “nail” it at each market. Perhaps, there is less room to localize content, etc. to make it work better in each market. Perhaps, they don’t have enough manpower or budget in each market to take on the localization part of the work.

In Asia, mobile search market has been doing really well, in many cases, more effective than regular SEO/SEM campaigns. But, I haven’t seen it taking off in US at all. Even in Europe, mobile search is not as big as it should’ve been.

7. Where can people find you and get in touch?

I speak at SES Chicago and other conferences in US, Europe and Asia including SES, SMX and AdTech. I’m managing SEMPO Asia committee, and attend SEMPO meetings in US especially the ones in NY and New England. I can be reached at motoko “at” E-mail is the best way to reach me at least initially, since I’m out of US frequently. I’m on Facebook, Twitter (motokohunt) and Linkedin. is a Media Partner with SES

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Interview: Ted West – SES 2008 San Jose

In my ongoing coverage of SES San Jose I present another interview with Ted West, CEO of Looksmart. Ted is speaking at this years event – more information can be found here.

1. Can you tell me about your background and a little bit about LookSmart?

LookSmart is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising technology company that leverages and licenses its AdCenter platform to operate high-quality search and contextual advertising networks. (more…)

Interview: Mark Jackson Organic Search SES 2008: San Jose

Mark Jackson who is President and CEO of VIZION Interactive took the time to do an interview with me about Duplicate Site Content and Multiple Site Issues which is also the panel he will be speaking on at SES 2008. You can also checkout other interviews at at the SES 2008: San Jose area.

Many companies/marketers are unaware of duplicate content/multiple site penalties. What do you tell someone who has just spent thousands of dollars developing a site that’s actually going to harm their SEO?

There are many ways to deal with the issue. Generally speaking, if there are multiple copies of a site or there are multiple copies of content you’ll want to suggest to them that while we can leave the content open to visitors, the search engines need to “see” only one copy of the content. So, you will want to use a robots.txt file or other means of disallowing the search engines from indexing more than one copy of the content.

That said, in very general terms, if I see someone about to launch a website that I know will hurt their SEO, I tell them NOT to launch until they’ve addressed any issues that could be less than “optimal” for SEO (redirects are not set up properly, URLs are horrible, pages are “invisible” to the search engines, or any other issues).

If you already have multiple sites with similar content, what steps (other than taking one down or developing completely new content for one of them) can you take to minimize the negative effects on your SEO?

Again, the “easiest thing” can be to make sure that the search engines can only index one copy of the content. There can be very legitimate reasons why you would want to keep multiple or similar copies available to human visitors, including having different versions for PPC landing pages. The best thing you can do, though, to minimize the negative effects on search engine optimization is to be aware of all of the duplicate content and to make sure that the search engine crawlers can only get to one copy. If it’s absolutely necessary to market each website separately, and there are many (thousands of?) pages of content, I would recommend that they – at a minimum – edit the first paragraph of content to be unique and ensure that Titles and Descriptions are unique.

As blogs become increasingly popular, many companies are developing unique domains for their company blog. If this content is syndicated through their homepage or elsewhere, will that have negative affects on their homepage’s SEO?

Generally speaking, most companies will tend have a “shorter version” of the content on their company home pages. It is typical for a home page to include the title (which is a link) and a brief description of the article or blog post. Having an RSS feed or other type of feed on a web page generally is not considered duplicate unless that content is the only content on the page. Most home pages generally have a lot more content on the page than one syndicated feed. In fact, we have seen that these small snippets of content on the home page, being regularly updated, can have a positive effect on SEO as search engines do like to see fresh content, rather than a home page that never changes.

Do micro-sites with completely original content, but which are affiliated/associated with the parent company/homepage, have a negative affect on SEO?

It really depends on the content of the micro-site on whether or not it has a negative effect on search engine optimization. If the micro-site has original content then it is a good thing. However, lately, we are recommending that a blog or micro-site be put directly on the main domain name rather than developing a completely separate site with a completely new domain name.

Does duplicating homepage content on social networks/profiles hurt your SEO? (E.G. if a company creates a myspace page and copies much of the content from their homepage onto their myspace page, will that be considered duplicate content)

Generally speaking, if you were to take content and text from your current website and put it on social network or a profile it typically is not considered to be duplicate. There is usually enough other text and enough other content on the social networking profile where duplicate content is not usually an issue.

How does a search engine identify that two sites are related/tied to one another? What if someone copies my webpage content to their page, but I have no association with them, do I get penalized?

In most cases, the page that gets crawled first will be the originator of the content. Any other pages that the search engines find (like someone who copied your web page and put it on their site) will be considered duplicates of the original. The same concept applies when you take copy from one of your web pages and put it on another; the first page crawled is the original; all others are duplicates. So, this illustrates the importance of trying to ensure that your original content, that exists on your website is crawled/indexed first.

For more information about Mark checkout his company website or see him at SES 2008: San Jose

Duplicate Content & Multiple Site Issues

More and more site owners are concerned that they might get penalized accidentally or overtly because of duplicate content. If you run mirror sites, will search engines ban you? If you have listings that are similar in nature, is that an issue? What happens if you syndicate content through RSS and feeds? Will other sites be considered the “real” site and rob you of a rightful place in the search results? This session looks at the issues and explores solutions.

Interview: Bill Hunt – SES 2008: San Jose

Bill Hunt is the CEO of Global Strategies, and will be speaking at the keynote round table discussion Why does search get credit for everything? He is speaking on the same panel as Randy Peterson, recently interviewed here.

You are participating in a keynote roundtable this year at the SES 2008 show in San Jose about attributing sales to Search – How much credit does an SEM program deserve?

It obviously deserves its fair share but this is the problem we are trying to solve… That search should not be an island and should be collaborative with other marketing activities. Historically, Search Marketers have tried to compete with other budgets rather than trying to be complimentary. We are trying to get marketers to understand they should work together and how to play nice with other marketers.

How do you determine the success of a Search campaign? What are some benchmarks for success?

It really varies. There are two key things we look for in metrics:

Most people with their search campaigns are only interested in Response Oriented — this is where the goal was to provoke people to do something. They want to know how many clicks and people buy. We are doing these but starting to do more around Awareness Oriented metrics – how many people became aware of us or our products during this phrase and what was their depth of their engagement with us.

Too many people exclude generic words from their campaign because the ROI is not positive but if they measures the awareness lift similar to GRP’s it opens up a different perspective. The current brand recall studies show this has tremendous value to the business. Additionally, we look at the “why only x” in terms of clicks and conversions. I have never been happy with a 5% click rate which means that 95% did not connect. If our client is the market leader they should be getting more but too many marketers do not take the time to understand why they are not getting their fair share of that opportunity.

What are some examples (generic or specific) of companies doing search right or wrong?
There are many large and small companies doing search wrong. Just about any search you do you will see mistakes with both paid and natural search. I see a lot of big companies that still have not effectively integrated search into their marketing organization. Those doing it well are many of the brands on the panels at this next SES. I am impressed with what Intuit has done as well as Intel – both are examples of well integrated search programs.

What is the latest “flash in the pan” meme in search marketing?

Social Media optimization – I think there are a lot of hacks out there that are jumping on this bandwagon since it is hot now. We are seeing a lot of chatter about optimizing social media content. While a lot of this is good information it is done after the fact rather than anything strategic that creates continuity. There are some companies who have embraced it and have tied it into a larger traffic and messaging strategy.

What are next generation search marketers thinking about?
They are thinking about content optimization across multiple formats and how to maximize all intersections with searchers. They will also be looking for was to integrate search into the entire content creation workflow.

What is one area you would like to see people spend more time on when looking at SEM analytics?

Monitoring paid and organic search integration.

Please share some of your professional background and why enjoy being CEO/President of Global Strategies?

I am one of the pioneers of Search Marketing. I got started by sending requests for inclusion into Yahoo! Directly to Jerry Yang when they were just starting out. I helped Outrider grow into the largest search agency that was acquired by WPP in 2000. After taking a break from search and working on a few internal consulting projects I formed GSI to work with companies to integrate search into the workflow for scale. We have grown to be a leader in enterprise and global search marketing. Why I enjoy being the CEO? I get to oversee a great team of dedicated Search consultants and work with some of the biggest brands in the world. I get to travel the world to meet with clients and teams. Last year I logged over 300,000 miles and visted 20+ countries. The travel around the world gives me the opportunity to experience many different forms of search marketing techniques and opportunities.

For more information about Bill Hunt or his company checkout Global Strategies.

Interview: Anders Hjorth – SES 2008: San Jose

Anders Hjorth will be speaking on the first day of the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose in the following track:Search Around the World – Part 2: The UK & Europe. Anders took the time to delve into some large International SEM questions and give clear advice to those who are participating in SEM internationally right now, or who are thinking about it in the future. You can find more information about Anders at the show or using the links at the bottom of the interview to get in direct contact with his company or see other SES 2008 Interviews here.

What is your background and what are you doing for Relevant Traffic?

I am part of what I would call the first generation of Europeans embracing cultural and language diversity. I was born in Denmark, travelled in my youth and studied in 4 different countries and in 4 different languages before beginning my career in France.

After having worked mainly in the French internet sector in various companies and functions, I became one of the founders of Relevant Traffic Europe, a Europe-wide Search Engine Marketing agency delivering technology solutions, search campaigns and consultancy in 11 languages and over 20 countries.

I today head a team of experts residing in various subsidiaries to accumulate and distribute know-how within client delivery and for tailor-made client solutions.

What are key issues to think about into the UK & Europe SEM market?


Interview: Erik Qualman – SES 2008 San Jose Q&A

Erik QualmanEriK Qualman is a Search Engine Watch Expert and the Global VP of Online Marketing for EF Education. He will be speaking on the upcoming panel at Search Engine Strategies 2008: San Jose on the Social Media Track Social Media Marketing: What is it and What is it Good For? More information about this session is included below.

Social Media has been a hot topic this year. Why should marketers enter this space and what is the key benefit?

Facebook just announced a year over year traffic increase of 40%. Any major brand would be so lucky to have this big of a jump to their site. Marketers should enter the social media space because you always need to fish where the fish are.

The key benefits are 1) could introduce your product to a new audience 2) low barrier to entry 3) valuable/real time customer feedback 4) helps differentiate your brand since some brands have been slow to move in this space 5) Social Media is here to stay so the sooner you start learning and adjusting the better off you will be in the long run.

Unlike SEM (or even SEO), SMM seems to be lacking in measurable metrics that marketers can tie directly back to ROI. What do you say to marketers who feel uncomfortable putting money into a form of marketing that they can’t prove is giving them a proper ROI?

Sometimes you need to look at the other side of the coin: What is the potential cost of not doing anything? How vulnerable are you to competition if you don’t do anything? There may still be hesitancy even if the competitors are embracing new technology, the key is to start small and get a few wins rather than trying to build the “perfect thing” from the start.

It seems like every week there’s a new “hot” social network that everyone raves about–what key factors should a marketer look for when deciding which social media properties to target?

Which properties align with your demographic and psychographic? If you sell walking canes then you probably don’t need to be on MySpace. Figure out which media has the best chance to be around for the foreseeable future. Also, figure out what assets you already have that you can leverage. Do you have a lot of original video content or do you have a huge user base that wants to connect. This will help you select the right medium. Also instead of trying to be on all social places at once. Start with the one that has the best chance for success for your product/brand and then grow channel by channel from there. This is very similar to search; everyone starts with Google then expands to Yahoo, MSN, Ask, Kayak, etc.

Facebook’s advertising platform seems to have fallen far short of expectations. Is it worthwhile for marketers to advertise on Facebook or are they better off spending their money elsewhere?

You should definitely test this as it is very easy to get up and running. From there you can determine your returns and go from there. Many brands have found more success sending their Facebook ads to a Facebook Fan Page rather than to their on site.

While we hear about many marketers making huge ground by marketing through social media (such as those addressed in the panel), far more fail than succeed. Is SMM really something that you can guarantee will be successful if “done right” or is it luck-of-the-draw to a certain extent?

Nothing is guaranteed – intelligence, enthusiasm and luck will take you a long way in life.

Twitter is becoming increasingly popular, despite its many troubles. Do you see Twitter as a viable platform for marketers in the future?

It already is a viable platform as JetBlue, Comcast, Whole Foods, etc. have proven. If you are a big brand and you aren’t already doing so, you should immediately start following what people are saying about your brand. In the past we had to pay research firms for this type of data on our customers – now it is free and real time! A good tool for this is found at

If you had to guess, what would you say is the “next big thing” in Social Media Marketing?

The two next big things in my mind are advancements in mircropayments and search results incorporating the social graph (socialommerce™).

#1: Micropayments will allow users to easily transfer money between each other even in amounts less than twenty cents.

This might introduce micro-branding. For example on Facebook users can send each other gifts. This typically costs the user a $1. 100% of this goes to Facebook. Today companies like Skittles often sponsor these gifts (Teddy Bear, Skittle). While it’s nice that the user receives a gift they would probably be happier if they also received fifty cents along with their gift icon. This will happen in the future. It’s similar to the concept that MSN is introducing with their Live Search Cashback.

#2: Here’s a real world example of what the future of socialommerce holds:

Jim and his wife just had their third child. With this addition, his two sedans won’t cut it anymore, so he’s in the market for a bigger vehicle. Having vowed to himself and his friends that he’d never own a minivan, he’s in the market for an SUV or a crossover vehicle.

Jim is dreading the hours of searching on the Internet to find a vehicle that suits his needs. He’s dreading even more having to leave work early to visit the car dealerships to test drive his array of selected vehicles and then begin the haggling process. Jim is also fearful that he may make a mistake even after all of his diligent research.

The majority of these pains will become things of the past with socialommerce. Here’s why:

Jim performs a search on his favorite social network – he types in “buying a car.” Rather than receiving a bunch of irrelevant ads for car trader sites he discovers the following:

* 23 of Jim’s friends have purchased a car in the last year
* 16 of his friends are married with two or more children
* 14 purchased an SUV or crossover
* 9 purchased the same vehicle

Jim respects the opinions of the nine people who purchased the same vehicle, so he clicks to find out more, and gets the following information:

“I test drove Crossover X and Crossover Y. Crossover Y was the much better feel and it was easier to get into the back seat. Couple that with the fact that it gets 3 more mph to the gallon and it was a no-brainer.”

Listed alongside the qualitative reviews are certain data points for each friend: price, vehicle, options, lease or finance terms, color, etc.

What does this mean for brand marketing? Well, it means that companies and marketers better start spending more time listening to their customers and potential customers and less time spending hours upon hours figuring out their next award-winning – but “no-customer-getting” – 30-second television commercial. Your power consumers are going to take ownership of brands, and their referral power is now on steroids.

Just as important as listening to the customer is acting on the information received and working with the product team to make quick adjustments. These certainly aren’t new constructs, but in the age of Web 2.0, your brand will experience a quick death if these constructs aren’t adhered to.

For more information checkout Erik at SES 2008: San Jose during the social media track;

Marketing to and through social networks means humans are hot again. Not as directory editors; it’s Web 2.0, and your customers are in control. The old-fashioned media buy has gone bye-bye. Social media marketing is fast emerging as a must-have in search strategies. Learn about the social search revolution, and hear case studies of how marketers have successfully promoted brands and products with it.

AdWeek: Interview with Doug Checkeris

AdWeek has a great interview with the new CEO of MediaCom. (Disclosure: I used to work at MediaCom)

A few distinct quotes caught my attention in the interview:

Were you surprised when MediaCom offered you the top U.S. job?
I was. It wasn’t something I had planned on or saw coming, but it didn’t take a long time to decide it was a good idea. Having spent my career in Canada it was a great opportunity to go and look at something brand new. Having had some distance from it allows more freedom of thinking.

Are you planning any structural changes?
It’s about how do we insure that we bring digital thinking to the core of everything we do.

…and finally one quote in particular that really stood out for me:

Overall, how much of a makeover will MediaCom get in your first year on the job?
There’s an old MediaCom and there will be a new one.

I have many feelings about MediaCom which can of course cloud an objective stance on such a change. From a marketing standpoint it is great to hear that they are receiving a new CEO such as Checkeris. He is talking about some major changes, based on my knowledge of the agency, and time will tell if he is able to make them.

I have stated many things about traditional agencies at, and maybe some of the things that Checkeris will bring to the table will prevent some of hardships happening to many big firms. Agility, adaptability, innovation, and talent have all been a problem for many major large agencies over the past two years. The sweeping changes happening are no longer simply apparent in the dollars spent on ad flowcharts, but are visible via the decisions of brands to go with different kind of advertising agencies. Some of which did not even exist ten years ago – some less than two years ago. As always, actions speak louder than words so we will see what happens.

In the meantime, I have an open invite to Doug Checkeris to come on the Podcast for an interview.

[tags] Doug Checkeris, MediaCom CEO, MediaCom,, Marketing, Advertising Agency [/tags]