Found People Thursdays – Guest Blog – Casey Rovinelli – Digital Marketing Sherpa – Tales from E*TRADE, eBay, PayPal and more
Thursday, June 20, 2013

Casey_ThumbnailWe’re stacking up  volumes of conversations with Digital leaders here at Found People Thursdays GUEST BLOG.  When we checked in with Casey Rovinelli last month we knew we had to add to the mix. Casey spent his entire career working online, and has some pretty historic perspectives to share pulling from his early accomplishments working with the likes of E*TRADE and eBay.

Casey  is currently the Director, Digital Marketing at the National Hockey League Players’ Association where he helps connect hockey fans with players online. Over the last 15 years, Casey has worked to create digital platforms and programs at many prominent brands including E*TRADE, eBay, PayPal and Virgin Mobile. He has lived in both Toronto and San Francisco, and now calls Hamilton, Ontario home.

FP – You sold digital advertising media before most companies even had URLs, what was the biggest challenge to early adoption and what companies embraced the whole concept first?

CR – First off – thank you for making me feel old in your first question. Ha!

In the early days of the commercial internet we spent a lot of time trying to convince brands to spend money online. They didn’t take the channel seriously – come to think of it, neither did many media outlets either. Online was sold as basically a giveaway to traditional advertisers. The biggest challenge was answering the question, “WHY?” Why bother doing anything online? The prevailing logic was that, at best, the internet was a direct response vehicle –not well-suited for branding.

Now that the internet has grown up, and the audiences are there it seems like brands aren’t asking why anymore, it’s “HOW?” I guess that’s  a good thing. The fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed, we just need to continually adapt to new mediums as they come out. Much like the brands of the 90’s had to figure how what to do with online advertising, brands today are trying to get their heads around mobile / social / content marketing. The progressive brands that jump in first, and are willing to make mistakes will likely figure it out and profit earlier than others.

FP – You stayed at eBay for 7 years when most peoples shelf life post dot com boom was 18 months, what kept you engaged?

CR – I started at eBay when it was still a relatively young company, just a funny online auction site trying to be taken seriously in the marketplace. I believed in eBay’s mission of democratizing commerce, and was continually inspired by the entrepreneur sellers and eclectic buyers that made up the eBay community. Truly believing in what you do is a powerful motivator, and that’s probably why I stuck around for so long.

Since things were changing so quickly at eBay (building the airplane as it was flying as the CTO used to say), there was a lot of a lot of opportunity to move around and take on new challenges. I was basically in a new role every couple years, which helped keep things fresh.

As long as you are having fun, fairly compensated for your efforts and continually learning/growing there’s no need to move around.

FP – Media buying to ecommerce to mobile to Hockey – great testimony to your adaptability and agility-was there a common thread?

CR – Each new role presented something a little bit different from what I was doing previously, whether it was a different industry, or required a new marketing competency I didn’t possess but was interesting in developing.  The one common thread was that in every role, I was involved with building a new product or program, usually digitally focused.

If you’re a curious person, it’s hard not to explore a little from a career perspective while you are building up your experience & core competencies.

FP – What’s the biggest challenge digital brands face in capturing and retaining consumer loyalty?

CR – I think the biggest challenge is being consistently relevant to your customer base (potential or existing). The internet is a crowded, noisy place – it’s hard to stay top of mind with your customers. You have to consistently prove yourself worthy of customers’ time, attention and money.

Having a consistent, branded experience isn’t enough; every interaction with your customers should provide value. That value can take many forms – providing insights, solving a problem, truly listening and engaging or delivering a small, unexpected delight are a few that come to mind.

FP – When digital experiences first hit us as a society we were wowed, it was magical, like the advent of color TV. Do digital consumers have room for more WOW factor?

CR – It’s a testament to how well designed and omni-present digital experiences are now, people just aren’t as wow’ed as they used to be.  The nuts and bolts of digital platforms are less interesting now as they become  something that is just there, always running in the background – like electricity, indoor plumbing or bad reality tv. People now expect things to be well designed and readily available; to WOW people you have to do something truly remarkable.

SOAP BOX : We shouldn’t get excited about new things just because they are new – that’s a one-way ticket to wasteful consumerism. Consumers should only be impressed if a new technology advances human understanding, is breathtakingly beautiful or if it precipitates a meaningful change in our lives (hopefully for the better).

FP – We talk about Digital People a lot at the office, how would you define yourself as a digital person?

CR – I would hope that my existence can’t be summed up that easily. Ha! But, in a professional and personal interest standpoint, I guess I could be defined as a ‘digital person’.

People who spend a lot of time thinking about digital experiences think differently than other people and have skill sets that others don’t currently possess (think website development, community management, content marketing, user analytics).

However being a ‘digital person’ is likely that a distinction will become less relevant as digital marketing becomes increasingly more of what marketing is. Soon you won’t be able to achieve a position of marketing leadership without understanding and enjoying digital stuff.

With any luck, in another 5 or 10 years digital marketing might be so common place that my family will finally understand what I do for a living

To learn more about Casey and connect with him, please click here: Casey’s Info.

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