Shopping for Best Impressions at Upfront

Feb 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When you think “upfront,” your mind doesn’t go first to shopping malls.
But making early yearlong buys with mall operators was one of the things on out-of-home specialist Jill Nickerson’s mind last year.
Ms. Nickerson, who moved from MediaVest last month to Horizon Media, where she is VP and director of the out-of-home group, saw that clients E! Entertainment and Style were not well served by making sporadic, last-minute buys of signage at shopping malls.
Those deals left the cable networks with what was available, rather than with what fit them best, Ms. Nickerson said.
“We put together a strategy where we looked at markets that were important to both E! and Style, and they could come to a decision on which optimum malls we should go into in advance and buy all of that inventory upfront so that we had our optimal selection,” she said.
These days, out-of-home is fertile ground for innovation, which is one reason why Ms. Nickerson is excited about the field.
“I really enjoy all of the aspects, from the traditional out-of-home to learning about production that takes traditional media to the next-generation level, and new technologies and the new digital media formats that are coming into the marketplace,” she said. “Basically, the whole realm of out-of-home is expanding, and so it’s exciting and challenging to be able to stay abreast of all of the different opportunities that are out there.”
Ms. Nickerson, who is originally from New Jersey, went west to study at Weber State University in Utah, a choice made partly because she enjoys skiing.
Originally thinking she would be either a doctor or an actress, she studied pre-med, graduating with a bachelor of integrated studies degree that blended microbiology, chemistry and communications. She’d originally taken the communications course to fulfill some undergrad prerequisites, but found she enjoyed her journalism and advertising classes.
She still wanted to pursue a degree in medicine, but found she was too squeamish for work in the emergency room.
Ms. Nickerson instead turned to the potentially less bloody world of advertising, starting her career at Draft Worldwide in New York doing traditional planning and buying across all media disciplines.
She moved to a small shop, CMG Communications, whose key client was Virgin Atlantic Airways.
“With Richard Branson being at the helm, he was always challenging us to come up with new and never-been-done-before ideas, and because of that challenge a lot of the new and never-been-done-before ideas really fell within the out-of-home realm,” she said. “And so that’s where I first developed my passion for out-of-home.”
Over a 10-year career, she also worked at MindShare’s Wow Factory and OMD before MediaVest.
“I’ve been very blessed to work with so many talented people in the industry, and have kept in touch with people, so when there is an opening, they’ve been kind enough to call,” she said.
But she plans to hang her hat at Horizon for a while.
“Out-of-home media is changing so much, I wanted to work for a company that was adaptable and ready and open for creativity and innovation. I felt like Horizon was the place to be,” she said.
That decision came after meeting Horizon CEO and founder Bill Koenigsberg.
“He really sets the tone for the company,” she said. “He’s personally involved and he’s accessible, so that’s what really intrigued me about joining Horizon.”
In her spare time, Ms. Nickerson, who is single, said she takes advantage of what New York City has to offer, from dining to theater to the museums. She also enjoys leaving the city, particularly for skiing. Her parents, who encouraged her to leave home for college, ended up buying a place outside of Park City, Utah.
“They wound up retiring out there,” she said. “All of my siblings like to ski, too.”
Who knew: Ms. Nickerson says she took piano lessons for about nine years and still likes to play from time to time. She doesn’t have a piano in her apartment because she’s a piano snob. “I love playing on a grand piano. Anything else is unacceptable.” Few people know about her talent, because she rarely plays in public. “I have a friend out in the suburbs with a piano. I’m able to play there.”


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