Jumping Into the Future

Oct 11, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Fast-moving Jen Soch has jumped from soft goods to high tech in a career that’s landed her on the cutting edge of marketing.
Ms. Soch is now VP and associate director of digital video innovation for MediaVest USA, but she launched her career at Sterns department store in New York, where she was manager of the lingerie department. The retail experience taught her a lot about consumer behavior. “There’s nothing like working in a department store with angry Christmas shoppers throwing things at you,” she said.
She also spent time in the coats and swimwear departments, then moved on to the buying department, where she purchased towels and shower curtains. While “There’s nothing more exciting than towels and shower curtains,” she said, the part of the job that really intrigued her was working on the store’s circulars. She wrote copy and was “really intrigued with placing the ads.”
That led her to a job as a media planner at Ammirati & Puris Lintas, where she jumped on the high-tech track, working on accounts including Compaq, RCA, Iridium and Dell. It was early in the ’90s, the PC was becoming important and the dot-coms were about to explode. She was drawn into the tech world because of the “the speed and the way things were changing and the fact that every day was different,” she said.
While at Ammirati, she went to grad school at night and earned her MBA from Fordham University, studying marketing and information technology.
She moved over to the client side, becoming director of advertising for EarthLink, where she began to see the potential for video online. Then she returned to the agency business.
“My tech experience had been more focused on print,” she said. “I knew I needed more TV experience because I could see where we were going.”
She joined MediaCom and worked on the Hasbro business. Hasbro was fully involved in TV, which gave her experience dealing with national planning and buying. Then she helped move the toymaker online to reach its target, which ranged from preschoolers to people old enough to play Scrabble.
Ms. Soch arrived at MediaVest three years ago, spending about half her time with the innovations team working on the Kraft account. Kraft sponsored ABC’s enhanced broadcast of character Erica Kane’s wedding on “All My Children.” Viewers could go online during the two-day episode and play a trivia game. It turned out that viewers not only played along with the show but played along with the commercials.
“The future is very focused on one-screen applications,” she said. Some cable and satellite providers are starting to install interactive features that allow consumers to interact through the TV screen and remote. “TV-Web functionality of those devices is really starting to make a big difference,” she said.
Now she’s full-time on advanced TV and working with all of MediaVest’s clients, including EarthLink. Ms. Soch helped EarthLink become the first paid advertiser to use TiVo’s Lead Generation product, through which TiVo puts links on EarthLink spots that allow customers to opt in to learn about the ISP’s wireless service offerings and to buy a Treo 650 phone at a special promotional price.
She also is involved with consumer research, testing different types of ad units in the agency’s AdLab.
“This is such a fun, exciting time. It’s a time when we can take that creative needle and get well beyond the :15s and :30s and really interact with consumers in a deeper dive of engagement,” she said. “This whole on-demand world where the consumer is really calling the shots makes the strategy side of this a challenge, but to me such a fun challenge. I think consumers appreciate getting reached in different ways. They appreciate seeing things and getting them at the right time. And with all this user-generated content, we’re definitely entering a new world.”
Who knew?
“My secret goal in life is to become an Olympic ski jumper,” Ms. Soch said. One potential problem: Ski jumping is not a female sport in the Olympics. But that hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm. She’s an avid skier and has taken jumping lessons in Park City, Utah, where she’s gotten into local papers as a female ski jumper. She was the first in her class to fall, but also had a successful 30-meter jump. She’s going back for additional lessons at Christmas.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.


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