Appi Camper is an interview series that shines a spotlight on today's mobile elite, showcasing their expertise and knowledge. Growth leaders share trends, strategies to navigate the current market, tips to overcome present challenges, and how they approach these impacts to successfully emerge as an Appi Camper.
Spotlight with Abigail Welte
Abby is a Strategy Lead on the Managed Services team at Smartly.io. Based in New York City, she's been working in the Social Advertising space since 2017 and has dabbled in both Ad Tech and the Agency side of things. Her favorite things about working in Advertising are her relationships with her clients, and connecting data to the art of storytelling. Outside of work she loves her book club, running and is a self proclaimed (very micro) influencer.
What positive trends have evolved in the industry over the past 6-12 months?
I love seeing UGC (user-generated content) growing! I believe it gives opportunities to smaller creators on platforms to find success versus needing millions of followers to be creative & make a living. Additionally, I think this movement has pushed brands to get creative and change the way they've been doing things for the past decade (i.e. making super polished and branded creatives).
What role does gender play in our industry? What challenges have you seen and how have people overcome those?
Gender plays a huge role in our industry and sometimes you get a rude awakening on how far we actually haven't come. While I'm lucky to currently have all women managers and Laura Desmond as Smartly's CEO, there's still a lot more that can be done in the industry as a whole. At Smartly, we primarily focus on three social impact initiatives: Women & Girls, Education, and the Environment.
In previous roles, I've had clients do things that seemed gender driven, like ignoring my emails and only responding when a male counterpart reaches out. Assuming a male direct report was my manager and I've been on the receiving end of some inappropriate jokes and comments.
While sexism is unfortunately ingrained in our everyday lives there are plenty of ways to champion the women in your life, whether that's in our outside of the office. Support the ideas from women on your team, acknowledge if they're being spoken over and hold space for them on board, panels and teams. If there isn't a woman in the room when major decisions are being made, you might want to revisit why that is. Be an ally and support each other as much as possible.
Who is your mentor and why? What has this person taught you that you apply to your life today?
My Manager Noora is my biggest mentor currently. While of course it's her "job" to be my manager, I haven't always found that mentor and manager titles go hand in hand but I've been particularly lucky at Smartly having found a friend in an old manager and current teammate, Taylor, and a mentor (and friend) in Noora.
Something unique about our working relationship is that I think our mentorship sometimes goes both ways, which I personally think is a true sign of what a great mentorship is. She's an incredible mentor because she allows herself to be taught and become a better manager. She sets an example of the kind of manager that I want to be with praise in public and feedback in private.
She's taught me how to further advocate for myself and really pushed me to break through some professional barriers that I was struggling with, all ensuring I keep my personal voice and style through each part of the process.
What does personal branding mean to you? Any tips for someone trying to build their personal brand?
Personal branding is HUGE in our industry! As enormous as the advertising industry is, it can get really small really quickly.
I think my own "personal branding" is one of my super powers at work! It doesn't mean you have to be a LinkedIn influencer who writes those cheesy posts about hiring the weird guy who someday becomes the CEO.
Personal branding comes organically, and it needs to be demonstrated through your actions and not just what you call yourself. If you take the time to teach with kindness and patience, highlight the work of your team, praise others for their wins (big and small), provide helpful, actionable feedback and show that you're someone that people can count on... your "personal brand" will form itself. Just don't brand yourself as the person who answers at all hours of the day and night... I've been that person and it just contributes to burn out!
What are you doing to stay balanced with so many changes in the mobile space?
I've primarily worked in social my whole life so I will only speak to that, but keeping up with the mobile space is HARD. Just a quick example is the move from sound off to sound on. Only 5 years ago or so there was this stat where 99% of your impressions are going to come from mobile and around 90% of those impressions were going to be sound off. We were told to build for sound off only.
Now that's completely changed with TikTok emerging as a primary platform for Paid Advertising in 2023. On TikTok, you build for sound on. Additionally, Meta recommends that advertisers try their hands with Instagram reels, which work best with sound on. But it's also key that your sound off experience is also positive to ensure accessibility for all audiences.
Then don't even get me started on mobile measurement and privacy. I think I'm still catching up from iOS14 changes a few years ago and probably will never be able to eloquently explain what happened then and how things have changed to get us to where we are today.
To keep my head on, I firmly believe in something my college Philosophy Professor, Dr. Bollert, once reviewed which is a quote from Socrates, "I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." I lean on the experts around me to keep me sane and gut check me. I have no shame in circling back to make sure I'm giving the correct information.
What is your current office set up? What is the culture at your company surrounding “unplugging” from a WFH environment?
I currently work in a ~300 sq foot 1 bedroom apt on the UES when I work from home. While I LOVE my apartment.... It can get a little old sitting at my kitchen table.
Smartly has a stunning space in FiDi and I actually really do enjoy my time in the office, but I SO appreciate being able to work from home. It makes my life outside of work feel so much less chaotic and I'm so productive at home.
Smartly is a Finnish company and they have a huge emphasis on work-life-balance and being able to unplug. Finland in the summer is beautiful and as expected a good chunk of the company goes on holiday during this time to their summer cottages. While I don't have a summer cottage, my manager always MAKES SURE that I'm taking the time to unplug.