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Insights, resources, and inspiration for publishers.

Life, Death and Video Ads

We’re all hanging out in the family room, where we’ve been for a few hours now, parked on furniture from the 60s and surrounded by family pictures that capture a century of snapshots in time. I start to count the pictures, but stop at forty-three with one wall accounted for.

I don’t have internet and am technically on PTO, yet I find myself checking email on my phone, and think about what work I could get done while I’m out here. “Here” is a small town of about 1,000 in Minnesota where my mother-in-law, the oldest of nine kids, is from. We’ve gathered at Grandpa’s house to celebrate his life and passing—a farmer’s life filled with everything you could ask for—hard work, healthy crops, and loving, loyal friends and family.

As I sat there on the couch thinking about work I stopped myself—what am I doing? There is nothing more important right now than being with family. I knew my team had everything covered in my absence and already offered to help in anyway possible while I was gone. It was time to disconnect to leave room to connect, to connect with family members I hadn’t seen in a few years, to connect with ones I was meeting for the first time, and support those I’m closest to with love during the tough time.

Throughout the week I field the typical questions, including “What do you do?” I stick with ‘online advertising’, knowing that ad tech is worlds away from farming, where the majority of the town works to grow corn, soy beans, and other resources that sustains us city folk and millions of Americans who count on farmers to survive. I have to admit; sometimes I’m embarrassed to reveal that I work in advertising, especially when compared to the wholesome contributions of the farmers around me. But that day sitting on the couch I actually felt proud. Proud that these were the beautiful stories and raw emotions we play a part in sharing with others.

It’s something we all feel once in awhile—the beauty of what we’re actually enabling. The moment often passes us by quickly, distracted by a phone call, text or email alert. Video advertising can make us laugh, such as Snicker’s Betty White Super Bowl commercial, or move us to tears, as this Misunderstood ad by Apple did in 2013. It’s not all pop-up and flashing real estate broker ads. The most recent iPhone Ad, The Human Family, which debuted at the Olympics, reminds us that we’re all just humans.

It was a good reminder of what really matters in the craziness of the ad tech world; of the power and voice we have to help tell stories. And while we pursue the richest and best way to do that, let’s not forget to live —to unplug and soak up the memories we help share. Life truly is horrendous and beautiful all at once. Let’s not forget that by being bogged down by devices. I need the reminder more often than I care to admit, but this week I turn off my laptop and put my phone in my pocket, because nothing for work or on Facebook is more important than being there for family.


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