Archive for the ‘Marketing Research’ Category

Digital Ad Agency positions

Do you (or someone you know) work in digital advertising … or want to do so?  If so, it might be worth taking a look at these positions we’re opening up for a digital ad agency.

I work for excelerate digital, which is a national digital advertising agency owned by McClatchy (a national media company which is probably best known for its newspapers in 30 markets, including The Sacramento Bee, The Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer and the Miami Herald) but is also a strong digital player.

  1. Operations Manager: link here
  2. Media Strategist: link here and also this one, which is called Media Specialist II but is actually a Media Strategist
  3. Media Specialist: link here – (think more like a junior media strategist position)
  4. Display Specialist: link here 
  5. Digital Marketing Analyst: link here (this is part of the Marketing Research team and you’d get to work with me)
  6. Reporting Specialist (opening soon)
  7. PPC Specialist (opening soon)

Here are a couple of videos to give you an idea of our company culture and the type of people you’d be working with:

Please note that the majority of the excelerate digital support positions are based in Raleigh but, for the right candidate, we allow some employees to work in remote locations; i.e., the excelerate marketing research team has 2 in KC (including me) plus 1 in Charlotte and 1 in Raleigh.

If you apply, please let me know and/or let them know I referred you for the position.


Hello New Job, Same as the Old Job

Well, not exactly the same but pretty similar.

As of December 26, 2016 (which was Day 1 of Fiscal 2017 for my employer) I no longer work for The Kansas City Star but instead work for excelerate, the digital ad agency that McClatchy started in summer 2016.  However, I still sit in the same spot that I sat previously doing pretty much the same work.

We (Isaac Hindle and I) still provide support (using marketing research and other resources) to all of McClatchy’s local markets (including our newest market in Durham, N.C.) but we will now work closely with Carlos and Brian (who are both located in North Carolina) to support the research needs of excelerate.

I’m also still serving as a Smokejumper / design thinking coach for McClatchy (in fact I’m currently serving as a coach at McClatchy’s Innovation Academy in Sacramento) and I’m still helping out with communications regarding Project Warmth which works at #ComfortingKansasCity with its coat and blanket collection on the first Saturday of November and financial donations throughout the year.

I worked at The Kansas City Star for 6 years from 1998 to 2004, left for a year and a half to work for Decision Insight, and then returned on April 10, 2006.  During 2016, I received the Full Nelson Award, which can only be given to someone once during their career at The Kansas City Star.  Little did I know then that I got it just in time.

I love Kansas City (and apparently you should too) and I also love what I do as my job; now, I’m doing my job for our cool new digital advertising agency.  You can now reach me via email at or by all of the ways you previously contacted me.

Super Bowl of Media

One time per year, we choose to watch commercials and that’s during the Super Bowl.  Otherwise, we make a point to avoid them.  In Kansas City, about 1/2 of the adults have a DVR and among older affluent Kansas Citians (adults 50+ with a HHI of $100K+) it jumps to 3/4, based on data from Scarborough Research 2015, Release 2.   Also, various research studies through the years have indicated that one of the main reasons people get a newspaper is for ads.  So, while we avoid ads on TV, we look for them in print.  Newspapers also tend to show up as the most trusted source of information.

All of this is a rather long lead-in to a blog that was originally published by the Newspaper Association of America on Feb. 9, 2016.



The Super Bowl is truly an American cultural phenomenon.111.9 million people watched the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers to take home the crown on Sunday, making it the third highest-rated television event in U.S. history. Aside from the pure astronomical numbers, viewers also vary demographically – in 2015, nearly 40 percent of affluent Americans and 35 million females tuned. And perhaps most importantly, 20 percent of the highly coveted millennial audience watched football’s biggest night.

Outside of the touchdowns and the interceptions, the halftime show and the endless snacks, why do millions of people watch the Super Bowl each year? One word: Ads.

When Super Bowl I aired in 1967, it cost $37,500 to run a 30-second commercial during game time. As televisions became staples in the homes of Americans and viewership of the big game increased each year, football gained national popularity. The cost of a spot was $1.9 million by the year 2000, and today, Super Bowl advertising is reserved for brands who can afford to pay $4.5 million for a half-a-minute ad.

The numbers alone can cause advertisers to have a field day. But what else makes them cough up millions for a simple TV commercial? Engagement.

Although many may think otherwise, the Super Bowl is actually the exception – not the norm – when it comes to television ad viewing and engagement. The biggest football game of the year is one of the only remaining times that people actually seek out the ads. In fact, in many cases, they look forward to them.

Famous Super Bowl commercials like the Budweiser lost puppy ad,Volkswagen’s “the force” commercial or Cheerios’ “Gracie” spot are remembered by viewers years after airing. Outside of well-known brands, companies like Avocados From Mexico splurged for an ad during the game and have since seen increased brand awareness and sales. Clearly, Super Bowl advertising works. It works because the ads are believable, they are well-done and the audiences are engaged with the content.

Some may find it hard to believe that there are other times – and other mediums – in which audiences are highly engaged with ads. Look no further than your daily newspaper.

According to a Nielsen study, newspaper media – in print and online – scored the highest out of all media (including television, radio and social media) when it came to overall consumer engagement. Specifically, newspaper media is also the most trusted source for advertising, and delivered a 12 percent larger advertising-engaged audience than the overall average for all other media.

On a typical day, most people would immediately change the channel when their favorite program ended and the commercials started rolling. For television, it takes one really special event to make Americans pay attention to ads. When you look at newspaper media, we have engaged audiences daily – without all of the fanfare. We don’t need it. Our readers are more engaged with our content and our ads than they are with any other type of media. Think of the opportunity this creates. We just have to be able to tap into it and provide them with the information and the advertisements they seek.

This could be our Super Bowl moment.

First Published: February 09, 2016

Travelin’ Man

In most years, I might have one business trip in my Marketing Research role at The Kansas City Star.

However, last summer, we created the McClatchy Consumer Data Center (MCDC) which resulted in trips to Wichita and Lexington. The concept of MCDC came out of epathetic interviews with advertisers last summer as part of Design Thinking with the Stanford Design School.

Well, earlier this year, I learned that I’d been selected to participate in the next round of Design Thinking training and, furthermore, I would be one of 11 people serving as Smokejumpers, which essentially means that I’m coaching others on Design Thinking and figuring out how to fan the flames of creativity. I had the pleasure of working with a team of 4 in January and at the end of the week, they went on their way and I was given 2 new teams to work with. A note of clarification though … these were new only in my participation as a Smokejumper as both groups already existed. MEND University was spreading great ideas throughout McClatchy and I’m simply encouraging them to test those ideas with customers. The other team is MCDC and, as mentioned previously, I’m actually a member of the team. For MCDC, we’ve been striving to “Nail It Before We Scale It” as we are currently providing MCDC and Database Analysis projects in 8 markets.

This past week, I returned to Sacramento for another round of training as a Smokejumper.

Before I went to Sacramento, I made a stop in Nashville for the NAA mediaXchange and got to see several friends and colleagues, including fellow researchers Pauline (Tampa / St. Pete, Florida) and Nikhil (Columbus, Ohio … go Buckeyes!) as well as vendors from Scarborough, Second Street, AdMall, Nielsen, Media Monitors, Mather Economics and RAM. Sunday featured the Audience Symposium while the highlights for Monday were sessions about Millennials and a session on how to Market to People Not Like Me, which includes but is not limited to Millennials. Then, I raced to the airport to jump on my next flight (to Sacramento) meeting with colleagues from McClatchy and the d School.

One of the surprises of the time in Sacramento was getting to present to McClatchy’s board of directors. Oddly, presenting to them really didn’t faze me … yet I struggled with the introductions/small talk beforehand as I couldn’t manage to say much more than providing them with my name and newspaper. In addition to our training as Smokejumpers, we also got to learn about teaching others by immersion as we had 3 unique experiences and then debriefed on the skills of the teachers: Tai Cooking & Making Mixed Drinks, Rockclimbing, and finally Yoga. Those that know me would probably be shocked to hear about me doing ANY of those, let alone all in one week.

Now that I’ve completed my week in Sacramento, I will be preparing to hand MEND & MCDC back to the teams so I can work with other teams as a Smokejumper. Of course, I’m still a member of MCDC and will return to Lexington for another round of training in early April. Plus, it remains to be seen what other business trips will be in my future. Somewhere in there will be McClatchy’s Incubator (probably in Raleigh) and perhaps some trips to jump into another team or 2 or 3 or …

Of course, I’m also going to squeeze in a few trips unrelated to my job with The Kansas City Star and McClatchy. This weekend, I’m taking my church youth group to Young Christians Weekend at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Then, in July I’ll be taking them to Arkansas to visit Heifer International’s headquarters and Clinton Presidential Museum next door. But before that, I’ll be spending 4th of July in Georgia as I’m taking my parents to the Whitaker family reunion and a belated celebration of my Aunt Sara’s 80th birthday.

Happy Trails!
Mark Whitaker

P.S. After a week of traveling, I’ve spent the weekend in my recliner watching NCAA Basketball tournament; as I publish this, Wichita State leads Kansas by 3 (29-26) at halftime.

MCDC – helping businesses find more prospects

I work for The Kansas City Star and its parent company, McClatchy.  Recently, we decided to launch a new initiative, the McClatchy Consumer Data Center, also known as MCDC.  We’re able to take a business’s customer database and analyze it using the Nielsen PRIZM segmentation system.   We find out the demographics, interests and media habits of your customers. More important, we find out where your customers live and where you can find more people like them in the market.

This type of analysis normally would cost thousands of dollars but we’re rolling out this new initiative during 4th Quarter of 2014 (in McClatchy West and Midwest) and during this initial roll-out phase, we’re going to make this capability available to our business partners (clients and prospects) as Value-Added (FREE) for the next 30 days.

A minimum of about 2,000 records is needed (we need address, city, state, ZIP Code in a CSV or XLS file) and we already have a Non-Disclosure Agreement available.   Due to demand, we’re anticipating that it should take about two (2) weeks to turn this around once we receive your customer database.

To give you an idea of its popularity, we launched this new initiative/capability on November 1st and, in just one week, we’ve already had six (6) businesses sign up with us and provide us with their databases.   If you run a business operating in or around Kansas City, Wichita, Lexington, or Fort Worth and you are interested in this new capability, please contact your Account Executive or to set up a time to discuss this in more detail.

Thank you.

Mark R. Whitaker
The Kansas City Star / McClatchy Midwest

A Bi-Focal View of the Future

A couple weeks ago, I made a visit to the eye doctor and sure enough, my vision isn’t what it used to be.   I’m still able to read up close but my distance vision needed correction.  However, if they correct my distance, then I can’t read with my glasses so I’m now entering the world of bifocals.  Specifically, they recommended no-line bi-focals so that it’s a gradual shift from near to far.  I hear it takes some getting used to but we’ll see … or at least I hope I’ll  SEE (sorry, couldn’t resist) but the thought of bifocals made me think about how we ought to look at the future.

Instead of looking at just the immediate future (what am I doing today and tomorrow) or just the distance (dreams of someday but with no plan to get there) it’s important to be looking (and planning) for near and far.

Schedule time to plan your week but also to look ahead to the next month, year and decade.  (If you need to actually put it in your planner or on your phone, do so.)  This should pertain to your career, your finances/retirement, and your personal life as well.

It’s also important to have outsiders that can be a sounding board.  I recently attended a workshop where they talked about the importance of having mentors but also of having people that will point out your flaws and blind spots.  Of course, you need to make sure that if you ask someone to point out your flaws and blind spots, that you’re not going to get mad when they do so.

In different parts of like, you may lean on different people.  For my work in Marketing and Research, I look to people like Vince, Gary and Duane for guidance.  When it comes to church/youth work, I have looked to Lois for many years and more recently added Roy and Claire to my list of mentors.   Keep in mind that someone doesn’t have to be older to be wiser; during a recent discussion at church, I reflected that one of the people that helped guide me on my faith journey was Nate – at the time, I was in my first year as Youth Director and he was still in high school but he showed me how to LIVE your faith and what you stand for rather than just TALKING about what’s important.

Today, I’m having lunch with one of those mentors.   Next week, I’m taking the week off from the day job and will have time to meet with a few of my mentors regarding my second job in Youth Ministry.   I think the break from the routine will do me good and will hopefully allow me to see things more clearly in the future.

To quote a song from a few years ago, “The future’s so bright, I have to wear shades.”


For years, I’ve said that “42” was my favorite number and that I was going to have a mid-life crisis not @ 40 or 50 but when I was 42 years old … well, November 3rd is my 42nd birthday so look out world.

I know what you’re saying … why 42?  Well, a couple reasons and both take some explanation. 

Half way through Middle School, I read a book.  Actually, it was a triology (well, it had 4 books but they called it a trilogy … that was the type of humor involved) called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.   Spoiler alert here but the Earth is a giant computer whose purpose is to find the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.  In one of the books, they find out the answer is “42” and when they respond by asking “So, what’s the question?” they get the response “What … is … 6 … times … 9?”  The 7th grade version of Mark (who loved math) thought this was the greatest thing and “42” has been my favorite # ever since. 

Similar math skills would follow me later on in life as I was a Math & Stats tutor for the Athletics department at Ohio State shortly after they added an 11th school to the Big 10; I used this as logic to explain why athletes needed help with understanding #’s.  Of course, this off-season there were 12 teams in the Big 10 as well as 12 teams in the Pac 10 while there were 10 teams in the Big 12.  I’ve been out of town for a couple days, so I have no idea how many teams are now in the Big 12 since Mizzou has been threatening to leave (following Texas A&M to the SEC which is supposed to stand for the South East Conference) and West Virginia is supposed to join the Big 10 while Idaho State goes to the Big East.  I think the next trend in tutoring athletes needs to be the subject of geography.  [Note: this side note has nothing to do with 42.]

“42” being a favorite # due to humor is also related to another of my favorite jokes … A group of prisoners had been together so long that they no longer told jokes; instead, they made a list and just said the #.  So, someone would say “17” and everyone laughed; another guy mentioned “63” and they rolled on the floor while “3” had them holding their sides as they laughed so hard.  But when the new guy said “42” he got no reaction and asked why.  The wise man replied, “It’s all in how you tell a joke.”

My favorite professor in college (at what was then known as Southwest Missouri State University) was Dr. Steve Parker.  He was my professor for a couple classes plus he also took over as my advisor partway through my college career.  I’d decided that I wanted to major in Marketing Research when I was a Senior in High School (that’s a story in itself) and was enrolled in the Honors College at SMSU.   Initially, I had a different person as my advisor but due to reasons I don’t remember, she told me she couldn’t be my advisor anymore.  Which was fine with me; I was trying to figure out if there was a way to politely ask if I could switch to R. Stephen Parker, DBA.   When he spoke, everything about Marketing and Research just made perfect sense and his advise sounded like it was meant for me.  In fact, when I later decided to pursue an MBA, he advised me of a few good programs to consider, including Ohio State where I would end up going and be fortunate enough to study under Greg Allenby, another great Marketing Research mind.   Back to Steve … I’ve always been a believer in having work/life balance and part of that was his doing.  He used to glow about his beautiful daughter and, in my mind, he had life all together.  So, when I got to be his age, I better have it altogether.  Oh yeah, he was 42.

So, as I prepared to turn 42, I visited my Grandmother who is getting ready to turn 97, a # which is a tad more impressive.  However, when I told her I was about to turn 42, she informed me that I was old.  She also pointed out to my parents that they both had white hair.  However, another favorite moment of the visit was when I showed her a picture of my grandson (who turns 1 in a couple weeks) in his Halloween costume.  Her face lit up with a smile.  She truly understands what is important.   Coming home today, it was great to see my grandson as well as joining my 3-year-old granddaughter to watch The Little Mermaid (along with the parents, aunt & uncles, and Liz … my beautiful bride) to bring a smile to my face.

I’m on a much-needed vacation this week from my job (although I’ve been staying in touch by reading email on my Sprint htc Evo Shift smart phone … this plug was not paid for but I’d gladly take free product as a thank you) but while I’m often stressed and sometimes complain, I really LOVE what I do for a living.  In fact, I’ve been doing Marketing and Market Research for 20 years and really don’t want to make a change.  I work for a media company that keeps people informed about what’s going on in the community and has an important voice for change through its editorials.   Through my job, I’m able to Help People Find the Information that they Need to make an informed decision.  That’s a key part of what Marketing Research is all about but it’s also an important part of the role of media to inform the community as we provide news and information to consumers and businesses.

Plus, I’ve been given the opportunity to work with non-profit organizations like United Way that give me opportunities to make a difference in the community.   The Star once again partners with KCTV5 to collect coats and blankets through Project Warmth (info @ this weekend.  Plus, there’s the Harvesters Challenge during the Christmas season and Greater Kansas City Day when the Royals have their home opener.   Truly, I’ve got a great job.

Plus, I also work with youth and young adults at my church and I’m on the Advisory Board for youTheology, a great organization that is “Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World, Now and In the Future.”  We just had a meet and great for people interested in volunteering and I also am serving on a Think Tank looking for how to keep this organization strong and growing into the future.  If you’re interested in learning more about youTheology, please visit  or (my blog appears the first Friday of each month) or follow the organization through social media at!/youTheology or by watching videos at

So, anyway, while I still look back and think that Steve Parker was (and is) a great guy that had life figured out, I’m not too worried about having a mid-life crisis.  I love my God, my wife & family, both my jobs and my charitable efforts.

Sorry if anyone is disappointed but I’m afraid that my mid-life crisis is going to have to be put on hold for just a tad bit longer.  Of course, if you really want to give me a shiny red sports car, I wouldn’t want to stand in your way.  However, that won’t change my level of happiness one way or the other.