Atlas Solutions

Real People of Atlas: Jack Southerland, Agency Lead

Each month, we speak with a different Atlas employee to highlight the contributions of our amazing team members. Today, we’d like you to meet Jack Southerland, a Agency Lead in our New York office


How would you describe your job to someone who’s unfamiliar with what you do?

If I were explaining my job to a neighbor, I’d probably start with the fact that I work at Facebook, and explain how Facebook has created a global community that unites people from our block with blocks all around the world. Advertising makes this connection possible, and Facebook has built a world-class ad business that connects brands and people in a way that isn’t intrusive or irrelevant — unlike most digital advertising they see today.

I’m on a team called Atlas, and our job is to take the great ad experiences that Facebook has developed and bring them to the rest of the digital world. As a Agency Lead, I work with agencies and brands to create a better consumer ad experience through the use of Facebook’s vast data and technology capabilities. We call it “people-based marketing.”


How does your position fit into the larger Atlas team?

I’m on the ad-sales side. I get to manage a team that’s tasked with bringing Atlas to market by driving adoption and usage of our solutions.


What’s your favorite thing about being a Agency Lead?

What I love most about my job is the fact that we are mission-based and have a game-changing solution that not only benefits brand marketers, but consumers and the industry in general. It’s such a rewarding experience to see a client’s eyes light up when they understand the value of what we’re offering and how it can transform their business. How many opportunities does one person get to change the world of digital? I feel like this is mine, and that feeling is what drives me every day.


How do you think Atlas creates value for its clients and the industry at large?

“Smart data” is in right now. We’ve moved past the era of “big data,” and many marketers now recognize the increased importance of smart data that connects the dots from products to consumers using digital advertising. The challenge is getting the entire advertising industry to understand that not all data — especially cookie-based data — is created equal. It depends on the quality of the data source. With Atlas, we want to replace the industry’s over-reliance on cookie data and create a new common currency around people-based data.


What was your background prior to working at Facebook?

I’ve worked all over the industry — my career has covered GRPs, DSPs and SSPs. I’m an agency guy by trade, having started in offline media planning and buying across the packaged goods, finance and technology verticals. Eventually, I transitioned to digital planning, and later, programmatic. Prior to Facebook, I worked at a programmatic exchange that covered the buy-side and sell-side communities.


What are your thoughts on the state of the industry today?

As someone who has worked in both offline and online media, I believe it’s important to understand that this is not the first time the industry has undergone changes in media measurement. As consumer behavior has changed, marketers have evolved the way we track, measure and transact.

For example, in radio, we’ve moved to portable people meters (PPM) and in television, we now account for live viewing plus time-shifted, also known as C3 ratings. Prior to 2014, viewability wasn’t considered an important metric in digital advertising, but it’s now standard as a way to hold buyers and sellers accountable for ad delivery.

I bring up these examples to remind readers that what we’re doing with measurement at Atlas isn’t just new for the sake of being new — it’s an important and necessary next-step in the evolution of digital advertising. I offer the past as both a proof point and a road map for success. In a sense, we’ve been here before. The message has always been the same, but the method has to change.


What, in your opinion, is the single most important thing marketers can do to prepare for the future?

As Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, once famously said, “Change before you have to.” The best thing marketers can do to prepare for the future is to not only recognize that disruption is constant, but build a practice around testing and experimentation to determine if the “next big thing” is actually good for their business.


If you weren’t working for Atlas, what do you think you’d be doing?

I’m fascinated by the convergence of Madison Avenue & Silicon Valley. I like to think I’d be in a similar role on the brand side.


Lastly, how do you spend your free time?

Those who are friends with me on Facebook know that I’m a big family man. I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids — they are my free time! Outside of that, I also teach for General Assembly and enjoy writing and recording my own music.


Thanks, Jack. To learn more about the Atlas team, catch up on previous entries in the “Real People of Atlas” series here.