How I Got My Start in Digital Marketing – An Interview with Judy Gern


At DataXu we’re always on the lookout for unique stories and experiences that can be parlayed to help young professionals flourish in their digital marketing careers. I recently had the opportunity to interview Judy Gern, a longtime marketing executive and friend, about how she first entered the world of digital marketing.

What was your first gig in digital? How did you get it? Why did you get it?

My first gig in digital was when our startup Vizium was acquired by Carat.  Before then, I was doing online but all web and email marketing – no digital media.  Suddenly, I found myself thrown into an entirely new world of arcane jargon, TLAs and complex technology.


What was the hardest thing to learn or master about digital marketing?

The technology underpinnings and how to get real, actionable insight out of massive amounts of disparate data.  I think the industry is somewhat self-selecting because of the fact that tech and data are prevalent in our daily work lives; digital naturally draws in folks with a bit of geek in them.  But even people comfortable with technology can become flummoxed by the technical/operational hurdles you sometimes have to jump through to accomplish your strategic objectives.  Just take a look at and you’ll see articles like “Diagramming the SSP, DSP and RTB Redirect Path.”  Our industry is incredibly complex once you throw back the covers.


If you had the chance to learn/study/do something differently earlier in your career, what would it be?

I would have looked for more opportunities to work in branding vs what became a career grounded in direct response.  I think there’s a huge chasm between the two, which is a shame for both brands and their agencies. The industry needs more people who are conversant in both.


What advice would you give to someone considering a career in digital marketing? What about to someone who’s in their first job and is looking for advice about how to advance their career?

If you want better pay and work/life balance, get a job in a corporate marketing department.  But if you want to learn from the best and work with leading brands, go for a position at an agency. They are very different worlds.


About Judy Gern:

Judy Gern is a marketing innovator and free agent who helps brands drive new customer acquisition and revenue through insight-driven, ROI-focused strategies. Judy was founder and CEO of Adroit Interactive, a pioneering dynamic display advertising platform, which was acquired by MediaMath in 2010.

Prior to founding Adroit, Judy was VP Account Director at Carat Interactive, where she launched the Vonage brand online and developed acquisition strategies that led to explosive growth of the customer base, from 7,000 to over 400,000 customers.  Judy joined Carat from Vizium, a digital marketing agency which she co-founded and was acquired by Carat in 2001.  Prior to Vizium, Judy was a founding employee and General Manager of TECHMAR Communications, a CRM services and technology firm.

Most recently, Judy was Director of Conversion Marketing at Constant Contact, where she led the team responsible for driving conversion-to-pay, cross-sell, ARPU growth and loyalty for more than 450,000 small business customers.