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The Balancing Act: An interview with Margit Kittridge

Margit Kittridge

“There is a lot of talk about Sheryl Sandberg’s book, ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’, and I think it provides a great example for hard-working and driven females. But women should also know that there is a time to lean back, such as when starting a family, so that afterward they can lean in from where they left off. My company is supportive of the work/life balance and I am so grateful for that.”

Margit Kittridge, Executive Director, Marketing and Digital Business Development at The Wall Street Journal Office Network, is living proof that being a devoted mother and advancing an influential career are not mutually exclusive roles, so long as one understands how to balance them. In addition to raising her daughters, Margit hopes to use her extensive agency experience to raise awareness of what advertisers want from digital-place based vendors and networks.

Originally from Hungary, Margit studied International Management and Business Studies and went on to work at one of the first advertising agencies in Eastern Europe. In the early 1990’s, Margit joined Leo Burnett Budapest, where she worked on projects that advanced the state of the local OOH industry, such as the development of a system for Philip Morris to accommodate their inability to advertise on billboards located within a 200 meter radius of schools and hospitals. “OOH was unruly during this period, with a surplus of sellers and vendors and a lack of standardization and attribution – kind of like DOOH several years ago,” recalled Margit.

When Margit was given the opportunity to move to Chicago, she turned what was supposed to be a temporary stay into a long-term residency. The global citizen spent ten years at Starcom MediaVest Group, where she worked in strategy and TV buying, and instructed a rigorous training program for new employees. She later went to work for Annalect, Omnicom’s data technology arm. “A lot of dashboards and systems were not being used and causing frustration, so Annalect went back to the drawing board and I had the privilege of being part of the experience,” said Margit.

It was around this time that Margit ran into a friend, also a working mother, who was employed by The WSJ Office Network. The company was looking for somebody who understood the agency world and the new wave of programmatic buying, and Margit was the perfect fit. “Agency fragmentation is not even fully grasped by people working within them,” said Margit, “so it’s very difficult for digital place-based networks to find contacts aligned with our sector.”

Mindful of agency operations, Margit is an avid supporter of programmatic media buying, believing it provides a level of efficiency, accountability and analytics that digital place-based can’t afford to be without. She sees growth coming from platforms, such as Vistar, that grant access to digital budgets and trading desks, and facilitate quick and effective ad exchanges for buys that don’t require customization.

It’s hard to disagree with somebody who is at ease making their point through numbers and Margit unabashedly declares her connection with the data side of advertising. After all, her successful career in media planning came from her ability to pick a single scenario from pools of data that strategically works for clients. The balancing of science and art is a talent that Margit possesses, perhaps inherently.

“To best respond to client objectives, you sometimes need to challenge the status quo by taking money away from something familiar and putting it into the unknown,” said Margit. “People are inclined to ignore signs of change, yet it’s important to take a step back and listen to those who are smarter and younger. I get inspired by how my own children (Aniko, 10 and Vivian, 7) use technology for their own benefit and how technology is changing their lives and our family life. I’m equally inspired by meeting young techies and startups in my business, and listening to what they think the future has in store for the sector. Always learning and exploring is the right attitude, which will ultimately bring revenue to our industry.”

About Margit

As executive director of marketing and digital business development for WSJON, Margit is responsible for developing customized marketing solutions utilizing WSJON’s digital screens and its unique capabilities to address clients’ business challenges. Working closely with her team, she provides strategic and tactical leadership of the evolution of WSJON’s business into emerging digital planning and buying channels and platforms. In her current role at WSJON, she also leads the market research function, including audience, syndicated and campaign effectiveness research.

Previously, Margit served as Client Strategy Director for Annalect, the data and technology unit of Omnicom Media Group, where she drove the new Annalect offerings for Midwest clients and client teams. Prior to that, she was Manager of Strategic Marketing and Analytics at the Tribune Media Group (TMG) in Chicago and lead the development of integrated, cross-channel solutions for advertisers leveraging TMG’s versatile assets across digital, print and broadcast platforms. Before joining TMG, Margit worked in various positions at Starcom Media Group in Chicago after being transferred over from Budapest, Hungary, where she was the Media Director for Leo Burnett Budapest.

Margit is a graduate of BBS College of International Management and Business Studies (Budapest, Hungary) with a BA degree specialized in International Business. She currently lives in a western suburb of Chicago with her husband and children.