In 2023, ESM celebrated its 10-Year anniversary of strategic advertising commemorated at an anniversary celebration in November. ESM’s founders, Dave Hassard, Patrick Carroll and Aaron Shapiro took time to reflect on a decade of ESM.
ESM hosted the celebration in Hoboken for the team, family and friends, and partners to recognize the milestone. The party included a charity donation, an ‘ESM trivia’ raffle and lots of reminiscing of the last 10 years.
Back in 2013, while working in local media, Dave, Patrick and Aaron noticed a shift in the media landscape as consumers started leaning away from traditional platforms to consuming more digital content. They saw an opportunity for them to use their background in traditional and digital media to bridge that gap, hence founding ESM.
In ESM’s first three years of business, the founders were in full business development mode – onboarding new clients, and fine-tuning their capabilities based on client feedback. ESM’s very early customers came from the founders’ existing networks. Some of the people that encouraged the founding of ESM became ESM’s first clients, and are still partners today.
As ESM’s client base started to grow, the founders crafted media strategies and allocations for customers and agency partners to guide them through the ever changing media landscape. In the early days, access to programmatic channels was difficult, and ESM became a minimum free access point for regional advertisers. In the early days, and still true currently, ESM supported a number of automotive, political, and advocacy clients in their entry to the digital programmatic space.
ESM operated without an office and staff for the first few years before settling down in Hoboken, New Jersey. Hoboken is easily accessible to New York City, and is a great community to build a team. When the time came to start building a team, the founders looked for people with a sense of curiosity and initiative to learn to support the growth they had achieved in the early years.
In the beginning, ESM offered solely digital media planning and activations, but chose to scale offerings to include traditional media as team bandwidth grew. As Patrick likes to say: ‘what’s old is new again,’ and ESM was able to differentiate itself by engaging with traditional media and being a multi-channel provider. As the years went on, and ESM grew its team, we were able to shift more towards planning and audience curation in addition to activations.
Building a Brand
While ESM’s capabilities have steadily expanded over the last 10 years to include holistic media planning, strategy, and activation, market research and analysis, reporting, and marketing consulting, there is still room for evolution. As technology continues to advance, specifically into AI, many of ESM’s tactical tasks will be sped up, allowing us more time to focus on strategy.
Dave has an analogy to describe ESM’s past, and where he sees it headed in the future. ESM started as a media “pilot”, handling clients’ advertising dollars with digital and traditional deals. Now more than ever, and as we continue to grow, ESM is taking an aircraft control role by creating and activating 360 media plans rooted in knowledge and data.
“I would have been happy ten years ago if you told me this is where we’re at, because aspirationally it was about running a successful business, it didn’t have to be a business of any scale or size,” said Dave. “It was about running a successful business and providing value to our customers.”