Why I Joined Undertone

| Creative + Culture + Media + Technology

Four weeks into my tenure, I was asked by the team here if I would write up a post outlining “Why I joined Undertone” for this blog.

A great opportunity to evangelize both the company and my internal thought process, I figured – and I’ll start with some context.

A Guiding Belief

I came to Undertone after spending virtually my entire 14-year professional career on the agency side of the advertising business. (The lone exception: right out of college, my one-year stint at a long-defunct TV network and website company called “Celtic Vision”.)  My agency career evolved through a number of distinct phases, from a) digital specialist, to b) integrated media practitioner, to c) holistic digital marketer.  At each progression, I’ve attempted to drive more directly toward a more true and pure convergence of the worlds of Media, Creative, and Technology – believing this convergent point to be the place where the most captivating marketing solutions will be crafted.

Now, my move to Undertone was ultimately driven by an extension of the same belief:

Companies that win will increasingly demonstrate the ability to construct and activate products at this intersection of Media, Creative and Technology.

I’ll break this down into five component sections below, associating each to “Why I joined Undertone”:


 1)  “Old Clout” & “New Clout”

Scale and efficiency will always be important in driving a particular kind of clout – let’s call it “Old Clout” – and there will always be room for this in a company’s value proposition.  But in an age where technology is removing cost and leveling the proverbial playing field, I view the ability to generate productized solutions – “products” that an agency can point to and say “I want to exclusively offer this to our clients”, or a brand can ask “Can this set me apart in my category?” – as the “New Clout” that will drive separation between the bevy of solutions-providers that marketers will always have at hand.

Throughout my conversations with Undertone, I was extremely impressed by the extent to which their outlines of and vision for a product roadmap aligned to this belief.  And the opportunity to help share this story with the marketplace – designing and packaging for a community of my former peers on the agency and brand side – was extremely attractive to me.


2)  We Love Screens

We are living in an age of mobility… and in this multi-screen world, multi-screen products should be viewed as the cost of doing business.  Brands will increasingly be challenged to truly break through, without the ability to access the various screens at a customer’s disposal – but will need to do so in a way that manages cost and operational resources.

Undertone understood this well ahead of its competition, and demonstrated that in developing ScreenShift™ – a responsively-designed, high impact advertising format that is delivered at scale across a premium portfolio of partners.  I look forward to contributing to the thinking around ScreenShift’s evolution, as well as this product’s future offspring.


3)  Context is Magical

Once cross-screen delivery begins to be solved for, we open up the magical world of “context”:  that’s right, that long-sought marketing cliché of right message, right place, right time (to the right person) is now truly available to us.

Some very smart companies – some on the agency side, some in the mobile space – are defining and developing partner stacks to aid in the delivery of context-driven advertising.  And while Undertone has long had a leg-up on the field in the “context” space – by virtue of its premium, direct-to-partner portfolio of sites – the opportunity to start extending that definition even further within the company was yet another tremendous driver of interest for me.


4) Never Stop Growing

Another very significant criterion for me in choosing my next role was the level of support I would be receiving, as I transition into a different side of the business.  Coming from that decade+ on the agency side, I felt it critical to find a company that would be as excited about investing in and growing my skills, as I would be in driving their business forward every day.

In Undertone, I have found a tremendous balance.  The company demands the perspective, insights, and direction that a new set of eyes can bring… but nurtures with in-depth coaching, a myriad of training opportunities, and a culture that promotes open and transparent communication.  As I stretch more directly into areas like Sales and Product, this balance will provide me with a considerable platform for future success.


5) People, People, People

Ultimately (because it’s not “lastly”), people matter.  People matter so much.  They push you to be greater, they celebrate your successes, and they raise your spirits.  They make it fun.  They can also make it tough.  But they always make it rewarding.

From the other side of the desk, I had the pleasure of knowing/greatly respecting a large number of Undertone folks…and those I didn’t know personally, I had only heard the best things about.  This was a huge factor in my choice to join the company.

But from my start a month back, I have been absolutely floored by the generally amazing nature of the Undertone organization.  Top-to-bottom, it’s professional strength, personal vitality, and unswaying identity has only served to further validate my choice to join.


The Close

I’ll close by stating that I believe we are at a unique time in our industry’s history, a time where advertising is beginning to fulfill its promise as true, narrative-driven story-telling.

Marketers today are looking for future-proofed, yet scalable solutions — and Undertone’s people, products, and vision position the company perfectly to help architect these across today’s multi-screen landscape.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this company, as we both design and distribute premium experiences for the world’s biggest brands — delivering them across the complete breadth of the customer journey.

If you’re an Undertone employee, and we haven’t met, please come by and say hello – I’m over in the sales area, next to the coat rack.

If you’re an external reader, always feel free to engage with me at rgriffin@undertone.com, or via Twitter at @rgriffin.





As a strategic leader for Undertone’s sales team, Ryan manages senior level agency and holding company relationships and provides companywide strategic support. He has more than thirteen years of digital media experience, serving in various capacities at Digitas, MediaVest and Mindshare. Ryan has been named an industry Rising Star by both OMMA and Media Magazine, and his work has won recognition from the OMMA Awards for Online Advertising Creativity, IAB’s MIXX Awards, and Media Magazine’s Creative Media Awards. Additionally, Ryan’s work has received the “Media Plan of the Year” award by AdWeek, a shortlisting at Cannes, and a “Best in Show” designation at ad:tech. Ryan earned Bachelor's Degrees in Business and Communications from Wake Forest University, and resides in Brooklyn with his wife Caroline, and son Obi. Find him on Twitter @rgriffin.


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