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AC Lion Celebrates 1 Year in Their New Space

Tuesday, June 3rd marked the one year anniversary of AC Lion’s move to 253 west 35th street.  The change welcomed a new and spacious office space for the company to utilize and enjoy.  This improved work space has reflected an especially productive and successful year for AC Lion.  The company is especially proud to say that this week’s profits represent double of that of any previous week.  Hence, there was much reason for celebration.

The AC Lion team gathered around a “Happy 1st year” banner to listen to a few words from CEO Alan Cutter and to step back and consider what had been achieved.  Cutter optimistically spoke of the alluring culture of the new office space and its facilitation of happy employees that are motivated to get the job done.  Cutter further urged his staff to stay on pace and keep pursuing goals for the company.

After everyone signed the anniversary banner, including the recently hired interns, a lavish piñata was brought out to end the celebration with a bang.  A few swings were taken with minimal damage.  Quite appropriately, the piñata was burst open with an impressive blow by the CEO himself.  Alan smiled as candy poured out onto the floor.  A few employees couldn’t resist diving in, getting on their hands and knees to gather the chocolate.

Such a scene speaks to the fun yet driven attitude that characterizes AC Lion.  253 west and its surrounding area are truly up and coming.  Two major companies are due to move into the building and attractive restaurants continue to emerge on the city streets.   Taking this into account as well the great strides the company has taken in this monumental year, a bright future undoubtedly lies ahead for AC Lion.

AC Lion Teams Up with AIPAC as Things Get “Dot Complicated!”

Figure 1AC Randi Zuckerberg with AC Lion staff

April 1, 2014 (New York) Dot Commers came together with Facebook’s ex-CMO and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, Randi Zuckerberg, as AC Lion and AIPAC celebrated her newest book, “Dot Complicated” on Monday night. The night was a much-deserved celebration of the ever-growing success of Israeli tech companies in America, and the NY and Israeli tech community turned out in force.

Star Jones and Allan Houston headlined the VIP reception, in support of the AIPAC Technology Division, which focuses on strengthening relations between the US and Israel. Ms. Jones had just returned from an AIPAC sponsored mission to Israel, where she was baptized on her birthday. Many in the audience found her reflections on her recent first visit to Israel motivational and inspirational.

Close to 300 guests from the professional digital space heard Randi Zuckerberg. Her most recent book, “Dot Complicated,” explains how to take time off from the technology world in our day and age. As people’s professional and personal lives overlap through technology. Ms. Zuckerberg is also currently performing in Rock of Ages on Broadway.

AC Lion and AIPAC were able to create a meeting place of Israeli emerging media technology in New York. As the digital marketplace continues its explosive growth, AC Lion has been at the forefront of these changes, working with thought leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs that move markets. “AC Lion has an incubator space to facilitate growths in start-ups, many of whom have some Israel based development or technology,” says Bonnie Zaben, COO of AC Lion, which has been accelerating the growth of emerging media companies since 1996. In teaming up with AIPAC, the awareness has grown and AC Lion is able to be represented in a stronger light within this technology space.

Founded in 1996, AC LION is a leading executive search firm specializing in building sales and marketing teams within the digital media (agencies, publishers, networks, search, 3rd party technology/software), emerging platforms (mobile, social, gaming, video and converging media), e-commerce/customer acquisition, and tech industries. Over the past fifteen years, we have developed a strong reputation in the marketplace by helping the industries’ best companies maintain their competitive edge by sourcing the best talent, negotiating over $100 million in compensation. Lionseye Group, our retained division, helps growing companies with C-suite and other senior roles. We specialize in Human Capital Placement and Consulting /Advisory Services to high growth VC Backed and Established Organizations. Visit for more information.

The Late-Night Show and Keeping Up With Digital Advertising

The Late-Night Show and Keeping Up With Digital Advertising

How will the new direction of the Late-Night Show affect their digital advertising? Our CEO gives his analysis in his latest ClickZ article.

“People Analytics”: Big Data Hits Hiring

We’ve been hearing a lot these days about how Big Data will change business.  Its impact on the marketing and media world is being felt throughout the industry. Data collection and predictive analytics are being used for everything from hyper-local targeting to drafting baseball players.  That’s old news.

What’s new is the impact of Big Data on hiring and recruiting.   For most media companies, human capital is its biggest expense—and its most competitive asset. Estimates put the human capital costs at the US at a trillion dollars a year.  “People Analytics” holds that making the best possible personnel decisions are among the most important issues a company faces.  I’m not just talking about headcount here but hiring, evaluation, promotion, retention and corporate culture.   In today’s competitive market, your managers need to be making the best possible decisions on their human capital deployment.   Every decision in your company—including R&D, finance, technology—is made by an employee.   It’s not just PowerPoints or pie charts but people making these decisions. People Analytics are seen as the way to help inform that decision making process by using data and algorithms.

For many, the term HR conjures up 20th century practices, of bureaucracy, ironclad procedures, the place you learn about benefits and legal compliance.  HR was seen as old-school and risk-adverse.  This is not the image of innovators in business.

From the technology side, the HR market is exploding with new tech and SaaS products promoting the latest trend in data analysis.  The past few years have seen major tech players—IBM, Oracle, SAP—move beyond attendance and payroll software.   The same data collection and analysis principles we use in our professional endeavors are now hitting HR.  Small firms are touting everything from video interviews to video games as predictive tools.   A recent article in the New York Times knocked “Knack” ( which uses it “Wasabi Waiter” game to assess an applicant’s multi-tasking and decision making skills.  It’s one of many new startups purporting to use video games as a hiring tool.

Google and Apple have been seen as leaders in People Analytics.  Their “People Operations” department, aka Human Resources, has taken the evidence based decision model and applied it to all aspects of employee hiring, training, evaluation and retention.   Google’s approach is “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics.”  Initial results are positive but time will tell.

Big data has influenced job specifications. It’s an easy jump from measuring current employee’s success to using that as the criteria for your next hire.  Quite compelling, isn’t it?  Reinforces the idea that hiring is scientific, like the previous fads of skills tests, psychometrics, and personality tests.      These technologies share a common approach:  that analyzing the past successes and failures will predict success in the future.  Some have questioned that correlation, pointing to the subjective bias that has been found in many supposedly objective tests.  We all know that what gets measured gets done—and choosing what to measure is in itself a statement.  The research on People Analytics is just enfolding now, and the ultimate model has not yet been proven conclusively.

One bit of ‘collateral damage’ from the People Analytics model: some applicants who have gone through such data-driven interview processes have been turned off by the process. The interviews can feel mechanical, like taking a computerized test.   For jobs that involve soft skills, like sales and some marketing, the personal touch is seen as the competitive edge.   Top employees want to be more than a cog in the wheel.  For now, human are still better at computers in detecting the interpersonal components, the soft skills.

A current TV commercial depicts an applicant showing off his school socks, as he realizes the interviewer went to the same school.    A nice edge up in on the old school hiring approach.  In the People Analytics approach, it’s more about whether alumni of that particular school have performed well for that company in the past.

People Analytics has propelled HR to the forefront of today’s management and marketplace.  HR used to be seen as a cost center.  These days, it’s the strategic heart of the company—and data driven decision making is taking its place at the table.  No one can afford a bad hire.

AC Lion’s Notable Highlights in 2013

  • Launched Retained Division: Launched Lionseye, ( our Retained Search Division. Under the direction of Alan Cutter and Giles Van Praagh, Lionseye specializes in recruiting Senior Leadership, C Suite Executive, and Board of Directors roles within Emerging Technology and Digital Media companies. Recent searches include CEO for a disruptive Data Platform, CFO for a leading video localization platform, Head of Marketing for a $1BN entertainment company and VP of Sales for a leading news and commentary publisher.
  • Partnerships /Stronger Foothold in Start-up Scene: Expanded and strengthened our work in the NY’s booming start up scene.  We partnered with PluggedIN NYC, WorldWide Investment Network, and other colocation and incubators, to mentor early stage companies and help strengthen their sales and marketing efforts.   We have specifically carved out a strong niche helping internationally based startups gain a foothold in the US media marketplace.
  • Expanded Product Management Recruitment: Hired Rick Aronstein ( a 20 year Product veteran out of and Martha Stewart to propel product executive search efforts.  His deep expertise in the digital world allows us to do an even deeper dive on client hiring needs and candidate assessments.
  • Big Data Analytics and Ad Operations: Doubled the size of our Ad operations and Analytics group (including former AM and ad ops professionals) and worked on senior and mid-level roles such as VP of Ad Ops, and by expanding positions to include data scientists and analysts for both the publisher and agency side.
  • New Office Space: AC Lion completed construction and moved into a 6000 square foot state of the art space in the heart of Manhattan, with great views.  All are welcome to visit!
  • Analysis of Media HR Trends: We are regular contributors to ClickZ on HR in the media world.  One of  our more popular columns dealt with how programmatic is changing the role of digital media sales people(

The Changing Role of Digital Media Sales People

The rise of programmatic buying has impacted not just the delivery and pricing but the sales process itself.   Publishers are scrambling to adjust their sales teams and processes.  A year ago, many large publishers were adamantly refusing to sell their inventory through exchanges.  Now, most of them have jumped on the band wagon, albeit kicking and screaming.   The latest to fall was Turner, which this week announced it was starting its own in-house exchange.

The ad sales model is being disrupted and it’s impacting the role of the digital salesperson. The traditional sales force, selling premium advertising using the direct sales, relationship model, is being edged out of the picture.   Media sales people, who spent their time coaxing media planners and entertaining clients, find that trying to build custom ad solutions is becoming a tough sell.  Now, part of their job has been replaced by a machine—one that is more efficient, more data driven, and less complicated.

Technology has changed the way ads are traded. Programmatic is delivering eyeballs and audience with better speed, more accurate targeting and more efficiency.   The automated technologies can reach many more buyers of inventory than a legacy direct sales team could.  It’s a numbers game.

The new profile of the ideal sales candidate has drastically changed.  Now companies need someone much more data driven, more of data wonk than a relationship person.   What worked five years ago doesn’t work today.    Larry Herman, of EyeReturn Marketing , deals with this every day.    “From our perspective, this is very different from the traditional online media sale.  While personality and the ability to navigate both the agency and direct marketer ecosystems are key, we need folks that understand technology, aren’t afraid of math and can convey how we’re able to sell an audience.“ EyeReturn, which combines a DSP, ad server and verification and reporting systems, would need more than just a classic media solutions salesperson to move the needle.   Hard to have a relationship driven sales person talk to a media trading desk.

Publishers are finding it harder to sell that premium space, though some have not given up.  Turner is trying to hedge its bets a bit as it steps gingerly into the programmatic world.  Its exchange is accessible only to its ‘valued partners’ and will require a personal relationship with one of their sales team.    Premium is becoming a smaller part of the publishers’ revenue.   Programmatic is not just for remnant inventory anymore.  And it’s freeing up those human resources.

Transactional buying and legacy sales teams are usually two separate approaches. Some publishers have tried to keep both channels going, but it’s not a natural pairing. Many publishers are siloed, with direct and indirect sales channels not mixing.  And don’t even try to add analytics to their mix.  The structure of many sales teams is old school, and can hold things back.

One way some publishers handle this oil and water mix is by paying sales people for programmatic buys.  No matter how the deal gets done, the sales team is compensated.   This keeps the sales team motivated, saves the publisher from having to redo their compensation structure, and keeps all the sales components on the same team.

To sum it up: It will take some evolution on the part of those classic media sellers to compete in today’s Big Data market.   Yet, I believe, as with many trends, they are cyclical.  Relationships have always driven sales, and eventually the machines will combine with the relationship, and that will be a happy day for the ad sales executive.

Networking 101: 6 Tips to Professional Networking by Bonnie Zaben

Social networks are great but every now and then, it can’t compete with meeting someone face-to-face, shaking their hand, maybe grabbing a cup of coffee together. I heard that 90% of all people are afraid to walk into a room they don’t know and mingle. A mingler is someone who starts, continues and maintains communication and contact in a warm, pleasant manner. As one of the fearless ones who loves to mingle, here are some tips for making the most of it, and professionalize your approach.

1. Pick the right event. If this isn’t your forte, start small. You don’t need to go to an event of 1,000 and feel like a wallflower. Chose an event with less than 30-40 people, maybe a meeting for professional association, or workshop, or panel discussion. Having a common interest makes that conversation even easier. And maybe even productive.
• Scared to walk into the room? Go up to someone who is alone. That person will be more likely to engage, and may even be appreciative. Consider selecting someone who looks like you may have something in common. Maybe comment on their really cool Bluetooth, dual headset, or newest 5s. Hey, is that the 5s? What do you think of the fingerprint technology?
• Another approach? Get in line for something—drinks, food, coat check, it really doesn’t matter. Its easy way to meet people and you’ll feel less awkward standing around. All you have to say “So what do you think of the event so far?”

2. Prep your pick up line. Ok, maybe it’s an opening line in this context. But the idea is the same. You need a strong opening gambit to kick start the conversation. Some possibilities for business networking are:
• Hi, I’m Alan . . .extend the hand. It’s often that easy.
• I don’t think we’ve met yet, I’m ____ and you are?
• What brought you here tonight?
• Hey, I’m a few minutes late. Have I missed anything?
• Look at their name tag and use it as a conversation starter. “Hey, I saw that your company is . . .” Or “I noticed that you are working at ___company, what’s it like to work there?”
Start with lite and easy things and always phrase it to end with a question, so you’ll get a response.

3. Now, keep that conversation flowing. Prepare some topics that enable you to build rapport, and maybe gather some helpful professional information. Your goal here is to have an easy, breezy, 10 minute conversation that you can build upon later.
• Pick up on a trend in your field. Either something you feel comfortable discussing or something you really want to learn about.
• Ask about a recent move in the field. As I’m writing this, the NFL is announcing a partnership with Twitter. Talk about the impact of Twittervision, of social media simultaneous with live TV, of Twitter beginning to really capture ad dollars.

4. The dreaded “What Do You Do?” question. At some point in the evening, someone will ask. Be ready to easily and smoothly answer that question,
• Most people want to impress someone with their answer. That usually means going for the title. So great, I’m a CEO. Nice fact, but it doesn’t really drive the conversation. Compare that with “I help growing companies take it to the next level” or “I build sales and marketing teams for emerging media companies”
• Focus on your asking. Adding what you do is a critical question, but you’ll put someone more at ease and often impress them if you schmooze for a bit, before going for the throat. Casually, after a few minutes, you can say “So, what do you do at Google?”
• Think of interesting sound bites. This doesn’t have to be dry information. It’s not a factsheet but a conversation. What differentiates you? How about if I told you that I started a networking group for digital media surfers on the East Coast?
• Rehearse this in advance. When you think you have it down pat, record yourself (or call your own voice mail and leave it as a message). Wait a few hours and listen to it honestly. It’s like videotaping a batter’s swing: the analysis is what helps you improve.

5. A Great Get to Know You Question: Now that you met the person, how can you build on the relationship? One of my favorite questions is: “How would I know if I’m speaking to someone you would like to meet or could possibly use your services or that of your firm?” I learned this years ago in a training seminar about networking and have used it many times. It always works: implies that there will be follow up and could be on their terms. People love it.

6. “Grip, Grin, Go” Know how to exit, know when to move on. Has this conversation reached the limit? You bored? Mess up? Exit with grace.
• Honesty is the best policy; you don’t need a crazy excuse to leave a conversation. Tell them it was great chatting with them, and that you hope they enjoy their time there.
• Be sure to offer your business card, and get the other person’s card.
• Know where you are headed. Can be awkward to end a conversation and just turn your back to the person. Move at least 5 feet away.

Now, you are ready to dive in. Set a goal for yourself: maybe to get three cards from your first event. Take a deep breath, be prepared and enjoy yourself. And let me know how it goes.

Facebook coughs up 100 mil for Onavo

Facebook coughs up 100 mil for Onavo, the mobile analytics company and will use its Tel Aviv as the HQ of Facebook Israel. FB lost out on Waze to Google but got Onavo. Stronger analytics capabilities is a slam dunk for competing in the mobile space….more

Facebook Buys Mobile Analytics Company Onavo… And (Finally?) Gets Its…

Brilliant parody by the Lumascape creator

A brilliant parody by the Lumascape creator of the Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad. At AC Lion, we’re huge fans of Lumascapes–and fans of good humor. Way to go, Luma Partners!

Ad Tech’s Most Interesting Man?

Creative Job Ad

Bravo! A truly creative job ad. What a way to get your job noticed, by separating it from the pack. The job has its own website–click on to see it.

Agency Creates Greatest Ad for an Executive Assistant in the History…