AdTech, The High School of Today



Adtech is a lot like high school, complete with cliques, grades, hormones, unfortunate haircuts, extracurriculars, and after-school activities. While you may have had an older sibling to guide you through those early trauma-inducing years, if you’re starting your first Adtech job, we’ve compiled some advice to get you through High School 2.0.

English: You will unlearn everything from AP English: forget about allegory, symbolism, and metaphors—in this industry we speak in acronyms, fragments, and emojis. Fifty-six percent of brands using symbols like emojis in their subject lines saw an increase in their unique open rates, according to a report by Experian. This encourages brands to try out multiple emojis to see which work best. And don’t forget to add at least one exclamation point!!!!!!!!!

Mathematics: Now that you have mastered AP Calculus (and forgotten it immediately after the test), it’s time to figure out how to back into an eCPM. You must also pass the Viewability Exam (a mathematical calculation that every publisher, agency, and platform executes differently). Those of you in sales must also grapple with Lunch and Learn food ordering equations and the dreaded Added Value Extra proposal test. If you survive all this, you may now consider how many Coronas and limes you need to stuff into your office for happy hour (answer: more than you think).

The Social Scene: According to a CareerBuilder survey, when asked what child-like behavior colleagues most exhibited, 32% of respondents said forming cliques. And individuals with more “friends” at work, received on average, higher performance evaluations from their supervisors according to Psychological Science. So, get ready to pick the right lunch table and figure out the best way to be the teacher’s pet. Be in tune with the social environment and use it to your advantage. And there’s one big difference from high school worth noting: everything is reversed. Get in with the geeks and high-achievers, they run the place.

Food: Just as much high-calorie food as high school, except the cafeteria is Shake Shack or Chipotle, and most days the menu is gourmet, free range, and locally sourced. Even better, it’s FREE. Be warned: this epic meal is most often eaten at your desk, shoveled in quickly to hit a last-minute client deadline. Companies know that the best way to keep you working is to feed you right at your workspace. In 2014, Google was spending over $20 a day per employee on food—that’s over $80 million per year according to Business Insider. Get ready to gain those Freshmen 15 (again).

Free period: Rather than playing snake on your Nokia phone, hanging out with the drama club, or getting driving lessons during your free period, Adtech has new extracurriculars like in-house yoga classes, volleyball tournaments, trivia nights, and iron chef competitions. And best of all, it’s all voluntary! (Except everyone will notice if you skip, so, go!)

Parties: Parties are a big part of Adtech—much more glamorous than the cheap vodka-fueled house events you remember from Senior Year. Yahoo throws a million dollar year-end shindig and Peter Thiel sails his yacht full of future billionaire Adtech youngins around the Mediterranean. Weekdays are filled with dinners, sporting events, and concerts. And don’t forget Summer Fridays. Nothing beats the thrill of peacing out before noon and taking the train out east to hit the beach (this applies to Silicon Alley only!).


Chances are that you’ll graduate in less than the four years you endured in high school. This may be great for the overachiever who is leaving to start his very own app (pitch: “It’s the Uber of Lyfts”…it doesn’t matter as long as VCs like it). But it may not be as great for the guy who continuously questioned business practices and piggy-backed on someone else’s work.

Luckily for you, the beauty of this industry is that there is always an opportunity to reinvent yourself.  You can take on a new role on a new team, go back to school, launch your own company—sky’s the limit. Regardless of what exit route you take, ensure you transition on your own terms and on the best of terms. These experiences stay with you forever, so make the most of them, good luck…. and don’t screw up.



Image Credit: CC by David Schott

About the author: Daniel Clionsky

Daniel Clionsky is an experienced Account Manager and has been in the Adtech industry for over 8 years. He has worked in project management and strategic planning, and is a stand-up comedian on the weekends

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