This MIT Ph.D. Optimizes Media for Alibaba and Past Meat

At the end of her time at MIT, where she did her PhD. In materials science and engineering, Olivia Hentz realized that she wanted to pursue a career in an area that had more immediate impact than research and chemistry. Then she discovered data science.

“I came to Known straight from graduate school where I was studying defect migration in a novel solar cell material,” she said. “While the world of media and advertising was new to me when I came to Known, my time as a PhD student taught me how to think critically about complex problems, work independently, and move projects from idea to completion.”

In her current position as Data Science Manager, she has spent two years applying the scientific method to business opportunities and challenges for clients such as Beyond Meat, Alibaba, Rockefeller Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

“I am very proud of the 2020 summer media campaign for MSKCC, which was planned, executed and launched in a matter of days to respond to a drop in patient volume due to Covid-19,” she said. “Not only was the turnaround of the campaign unprecedented, it was also a unique opportunity to work directly with the company [chief marketing and communications officer] from MSKCC, Roxanne Taylor, on a campaign that really saved lives. “

Given the increasingly complex nature of advertising during Covid, Hentz plans to help customers navigate the area and develop media plans and strategies for 2021. In fact, she referred to the media component of her role as a lucky coincidence as she was able to apply her skills in analysis and strategy.

In the long term, she hopes to be able to help set up Known’s IP in order to “push the industry boundaries of ad optimization, attribution and data-driven planning”.

“I always strive for the highest quality of work and am not satisfied with good enough,” said Hentz. “I have a scientific background and the rare ability to offer a truly holistic view by bridging the gap between the most technical aspects of a campaign and strategic and business-oriented goals.”

Big mistake

Hentz said her biggest mistake is being too tough on herself when things don’t go perfectly in a campaign.

In the first few weeks of a campaign in particular, when performance was below what she’d hoped for, Hentz found she was questioning audiences, rankings, and creative pairings. But in hindsight, nothing was really wrong.

lesson learned

Hentz noted that she had quickly learned to scale her expectations based on how quickly she could optimize a given budget. And the smaller the budget, the more patience you have to have for optimization. She also learned to trust herself and her team.

“Learning to accept that there will always be opportunities to improve the next one has been one of the most valuable lessons of my career so far,” she said.

How she got the gig

Hentz got the job thanks to a classmate whose sister worked at Known and did an introduction.

Pro tip

“Have a healthy skepticism when working with data,” said Hentz. “Using data to make advertising decisions can be extremely powerful, but it only works if you understand what your data is and how to get the most out of it.”

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