We couldn’t be more excited to have Stacey join our growing Advisor Collective community of leaders, doers, innovators, and agents of change. Stacey is an important member as it relates to our vision of a global data-driven ecosystem. Data is THE NEW ASSET CLASS. Yes, I know I am a broken record. But, data and AI powered intelligent automation are going to fuel the next, most important stage of the combined digital advertising and media industry. Along with being the primary driver of performance. Which is exactly why we are so thrilled to have her join. Her career and current position as Chief Performance & Data Officer and next-generation digital agency MERGE, where they marry storytelling with technology to promote health, wealth, and happiness in the world.

Stacey Hawes is an award-winning executive in the AdTech/MarTech industry where she has spent more than 25 years helping hundreds of brands, from Enterprise to SMB, across verticals to leverage data-driven marketing to drive exponential growth.

Stacey started her career in a leadership development program at LG&E Energy, a Fortune 500 company, in her hometown of  Louisville, Kentucky. During a rotation in Marketing, she found her real passion for leveraging data to drive positive business outcomes. Hawes joined Doubleclick in 2000 after the company purchased Abacus, the largest cooperative database of its kind, where she focused on product development and strategy across the business. Fast forward, Doubleclick sold most of their tech solutions to Google and Hawes stayed with the business that was ultimately acquired by Epsilon. During her tenure at Epsilon, she rose through the ranks across a number of Product and Sales Leadership positions and ultimately joined the Executive team as the President of the Data Practice in 2016. During her 5 year tenure as President, she led the business through a digital transformation that drove unprecedented growth for the unit. Stacey worked across all practice areas at Epsilon to ensure data was at the core of all of their solutions, from digital media and email to data-driven creative. She was an integral part of the Exec team that sold Epsilon to Publicis, where she helped lead integration of the companies in the year’s post-acquisition. Stacey is currently the Chief Performance & Data Officer of MERGE, a full-service agency with clients in Retail, Health Providers, Life Sciences, and Financial Services.

Stacey has been a frequent speaker at key industry events, a thought leader, a privacy enthusiast, and served on the DMA board when it was integrated into the ANA years ago. She has been recognized in the industry for her contributions, including being named:

Business Insider Top 20 Executives Shaping the Future of Marketing Technology 2020
Advertising Age Woman to Watch 2017
Taylor Institute Direct Marketer of the Year 2017
Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Data Rockstar 2017
Stevie Award for Maverick of the Year: Marketing & Advertising  2016
Folio Magazine Top 20 Women in Media 2014

While she is proud to have been honored for these great accomplishments, her most proud recognition comes from the work she has done to advocate for women in business/leadership. Stacey frequently mentors the younger generation in our industry and has devoted many years to helping young girls find their voice and passion through her work on the board for Girls on the Run of the Rockies, where she was Chairman of the Board. Her proudest recognition includes being named a HERoes Top 100 Role Models for Women Execs in 2019 and being named a Global Female Champion of Women by the Financial Times in 2018.

Stacey graduated from the University of Louisville with her MBA and resides in Denver, CO with her husband and two children who she adores. In her free time Stacey can be found traveling (preferably to a beach destination), enjoying as many Broadway shows as possible in NYC and enjoying the great outdoors in her beautiful state of Colorado.

Why I want to join the Collective:

I am thrilled to join the incredible community of industry leaders that Peter Bordes is pulling together through the Advisor Collective.  I am excited to help lead the change that is happening in our ever-changing, dynamic industry. Now that the cookies are crumbling, it is critical we find the next-generation solution for advertising and media – and it must be in a privacy-first fashion. My extensive background in data and digital media will provide a much-needed voice to shape the future. My passion for leveraging data in unique ways, helping brands unlock growth and ensuring it’s all done in a privacy-compliant way makes me an ideal advisor to this group!

The Future of the Industry:

The rise of First-party data and evolving privacy landscape.

Collecting and activating first-party data will be more important than ever throughout 2024 and beyond. The demise of the cookie, combined with stricter privacy regulations is forcing advertisers/brands to invest more heavily in their own data. This, in turn, is causing agencies and publishers to do the same. There are many things brands must consider when collecting and unifying data; transparency and security are of utmost importance. Brands must be clear and transparent with their customers about how their data is used and stored and how secure their data is – this will require them to make additional investments in new technologies, alongside agencies and publishers. I expect we will see some consolidation in the space so choosing the right tech and data partner will be critical.

Speaking of Transparency

In this new era, a pivotal element of brand establishment lies in fostering unwavering trust and unparalleled authority among a brand’s target audience. This demands an unwavering commitment to transparency. As brands embrace these foundational principles, the landscape of advertising technology will undergo a seismic shift toward transparency-driven methodologies. This transition will be evident across both digital and physical advertising channels. Advertisers, agencies, and publishers alike will need to embrace this new frontier and model the way to ensure long-term success.

What would I tell my younger self:

First and foremost, it’s OK to fail! For the first decade of my career, I was laser-focused on winning and figuring out how to win. When I would suffer losses, even the smallest losses, I would beat myself up. What I didn’t realize was that my greatest learnings actually came from some of those missteps or losses. I always knew I wanted to be in a leadership position, probably from kindergarten on, and I sought to find the leaders that I aspired to be. Unfortunately, I found this to be challenging throughout my own career progression! As I look back now, I realize that some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about leadership came from those I was exposed to who taught me what NOT to do. The key is to fail fast, learn from it, and pivot quickly.

One of the things I tell the people I have mentored over the years is to have voracious curiosity. It’s so important to learn as much as you can about your industry, your craft, your competition, and the economy and world at large. When you’re starting out in your career it’s good to ask a lot of questions, there really are no stupid questions. When I was first starting out in my career, while working at the energy company, I had the opportunity to have a small group breakfast with the CEO. The US was just about to send troops into Bosnia and he asked each of us to share our thoughts on whether we should send troops or not. At first, I felt panicked, but then formulated my answer. At the end of the meeting, he said something that has stayed with me all of these years – he didn’t care what our answer was, he cared that we HAD AN OPINION. Be informed, ask a lot of questions, and live with a genuine thirst for knowledge.