Welcome to our Meet the 50 Team series, where we give you the lowdown on how the people at 50onRed get stuff done. This time we’re sitting down with Ad Network Manager Kyle Stokes.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role here.
I work on 50onRed’s Ad Operation team, which is essentially the business side of the company. Instead of code shredding, we manage business relationships, analyze data, yield optimize, and come up with innovative ways to maximize revenue in the digital ecosystem.
As the tech industry grows, my role is always changing. I do a variety of things daily that can change from one day to the next. I mostly work with our advertising networks and Real-Time Bidding advertising exchanges to programmatically buy and sell advertising inventory to maximize revenue in the most efficient way possible. I’m also responsible for maintaining business relationships with various SSPs and DSPs, staying current on the digital advertising industry, and keeping up-to-date with all the different products on the market.
I come to work every day with a positive and passionate attitude, knowing that we’ll get innovative stuff done. I try to provide help in whatever way is needed, so it’s important that I’m as agile and supportive as I can be for my team. Being involved in just about every type of digital advertising product, I stay curious and learn as much as possible about the products that currently exist and where the industry looks to be headed.
You graduated with a degree in economics from Rowan. What led you to a career in ad tech?
I originally chose economics as a major because, at the time, I was obsessed with Wall Street and the stock exchange. I really liked the competitive atmosphere, where behind every trade there’s a winner and loser. In other words, someone did something right, while at the same time someone did something wrong. Economics offers a lot of tools to analyze complicated systems and can provide insight into what happened, why it happened, and what could potentially happen in the future, which I found interesting.
Given the parallels between the two industries, I’m happy where I landed and look forward to coming to work every day to learn something new. That being said, if someone had told me 6+ years ago I’d be working in ad tech, I’d probably have asked what, exactly, ad tech even is.
What tools are essential to your day-to-day?
On a typical day, you’ll see a lot of spreadsheets and emails on my screen. Aside from that, the most essential tools the Ad Ops team uses on a day-to-day basis were built with the hard work of our talented developers. Thanks to them, we have the technology we need to analyze data and optimize more efficiently.
What are your all-time favorite computer games?
Saying I’ve played a lot of computer games is probably an understatement. I’ve played all types of games: FPSs like Counter-Strike, MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Dungeon Runner ARPGs like Diablo 3, RTSs like Age of Empires 3, and MOBAs like League of Legends.
Counter-Strike, a.k.a. CS, has been something my friends and I have played throughout all versions of the game for the last 15 or so years. The current version is CS:GO, which, yes, we still play like we did when we were freshmen in high school. We played in competitive online organized leagues versus other teams in five-on-five matchups. To this day, at least twice a year my group of friends–some now married with children–get together and have a big LAN party where we bring our desktop computers, tables, and chairs and play CS. It’s something we’ve been doing since we were 13. We had 17 people come to our last one in December.
(Not-So-Funny) Story: We once went to a Counter-Strike tournament at an LAN center in PA once, which is basically a place with a bunch of computers where people go to play video games. The night before, my team went to practice at the LAN center with another team. After a good four or five hours of hard practice, we decided to wrap it up and drive back to Jersey to get some sleep for the big tourney the next day. Walking out to the parking lot, I was surprised to find it completely empty without a single car. As it turns out, my car was stolen while I was practicing for a computer game tournament.
Do you have any crazy fishing stories? What was your best catch?
I don’t really have any crazy fishing stories, and I’m still searching for that 3,000 pound marlin. When the warm weather hits, you’ll usually find me out on my kayak at least once every weekend, paddling around on a lake fishing for bass (or, trying to, at least). Bass fishing is something I’ve enjoyed since I was around eight or nine years old. I’m not exactly sure why I still do it so often–I typically don’t catch monster fish, and my lures-lost to fish-caught ratio isn’t exactly the greatest, but I have a good time either way. And, hey, I help keep the lure-making companies in business.
How long have you been playing hockey? What position do you play?
I started playing ice hockey when I was five years old, and I mostly played center and right wing. For 13 years, between my travel teams and school teams, I could be on the ice for games and practice up to eight times a week. I played college roller hockey at Rowan and made it to Division I Final Four in Wisconsin my senior year. Now I play both ice and roller hockey on men’s leagues with my friends.
In the winter, you’re a big fan of snowboarding. What’s the best place to snowboard around here?
I am indeed a big fan of snowboarding and like to go as much as possible! During my travel hockey years, we’d plan tournaments in the Northeast around Vermont and go snowboarding at Killington or Okemo. In my opinion, the best mountain that isn’t too far from the Philly area is Camelback. For anyone who likes snowboarding, though, it’s definitely worth the drive to Vermont, especially if they’ve never been up there.
There’s growing competition to work in the tech industry. What advice would you give people looking to work here?
Learn as much as possible about the industry. Learn from your own experience, jump on industry forums, read articles, and know the latest about ad technology. You must want to learn and keep learning. The only thing constant in this industry is change. When you think you know everything, go learn some more. If you want a mindless routine where you come to work and do the same thing every day, 50onRed isn’t for you.
What’s your favorite perk about working at 50onRed?
Honestly, the best perk about working at 50onRed isn’t all the stuff we can eat and drink. It isn’t even the latest technology that we readily have available to us. The best perk about working at 50onRed is the incredibly talented and motivated people I’m able to work with every single day. 50onRed has an abundance of innovative minds that are always coming up with something new and finding ways to improve our current technology. “You learn something new every day” is a common cliché, but here, you really do learn something new every day. Ultimately, the best perk about working at 50onRed is having a career, not a job. Everything else is a bonus.
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