Next Media Stars: Zed Digital’s Gah-Yee Won gets bonus points for digital inventiveness

First up in this eight-part series on up-and-coming media talent is Gah-Yee Won, account executive, Zed Digital, ZenithOptimedia.

MiC‘s mothership strategy wanted to know: which young media minds are breaking new ground, taking campaigns to the next level and delivering results? We asked the top brass at media agencies across the country to share who they think deserves a shout-out, and from whom we can expect even more big things to come. The winner will be determined by a jury and announced this fall.

First up in the series, appearing in MiC every Monday for the next eight weeks, is Gah-Yee Won, account executive at Zed Digital, ZenithOptimedia in Toronto.

Claim to fame

Most people in Canada with a desire to get more bang for every buck have an Air Miles card. And a campaign called ‘Passport to Win,’ launched in March, reinforced the value proposition even more by driving folks to the Air Miles website for a chance to win prizes. The challenge for ZenithOptimedia’s Gah-Yee Won, account executive at Zed Digital, was to reach cardholders with the message, but not repeatedly pound them over the head with it.

Won, 26, thought of a method she calls ‘exclusionary targeting’: by cookie-ing the IP addresses of those who log on to the Air Miles site, tech teams could track and recognize loyal point collectors who were already in the know. ‘We tag them, call that person an avid user and don’t show them any ads,’ says Won.

‘Passport to Win’ was advertised through banner ads on the sites of three major suppliers that had the technological know-how to implement the experimental plan: Sympatico MSN, Yahoo! and MSN’s ad network, an aggregate of ComScore’s top 40 sites in Canada. Even though the technology is not new, tech teams at those networks had never cookied users for the purposes of avoiding them before, says Won.

Won’s media buy surpassed the goal for expected clicks to the contest, and yielded a response rate of more than three times the industry average.

A bit about Won

Before joining ZenithOptimedia in September 2007, Won, who holds an honours BA in media, information and technoculture from the University of Western Ontario, worked in retail until her friend (and last year’s Next Media Star winner) Danny Shenkman referred her to Zenith’s digital group. Like many young media stars, Won was unaware that the media industry even existed – but she suspects that probably means the job is being done right.

‘I think media is at its best when it’s so seamless and natural,’ says Won. ‘Do you really want to see the puppet master’s strings?’

Are ad execs giving enough attention to media and keeping pace with change?

While one of the biggest frustrations of media planning is being an afterthought to the creative concept, I feel like ad execs are moving in the right direction. We are being brought into the process earlier than before and being consulted more often.

What brand would you love to work on (that’s not a client of your agency), and why?

I would love to work on a brand competing against one of the behemoths, such as the Microsoft Zune. I think Zune is in a really interesting place right now having the backing of Microsoft, but still being second to the giant that is iPod. I would love the challenge of raising a brand from its infancy, tangibly increasing its market share and brand awareness.