Why Meredith’s Doug Olson Believes Premium Content Providers Will Rise to the Top

May 31, 2018

New director discusses his biggest challenges and what he hopes the AAM board will accomplish.

Erin Boudreau, Marketing Manager


As president of Meredith Magazines and general manager of the National Media Group, Doug Olson oversees most of the company’s national media brands and played a key role in Meredith’s acquisition of Time Inc. Here he discusses his biggest challenges, the effects of digital ad fraud on premium publishers and what he hopes to accomplish as a new member of AAM’s board of directors.


Doug Olson, MeredithAAM: Why did you join the AAM board?

Doug Olson: I believe it's one of those rare opportunities to work with some of the most important, influential leaders in our industry. Working together to make our industry better is why I wanted to be part of it.


AAM: What do you hope the board will accomplish?

Doug Olson: For traditional media like print, AAM is the de facto standard. When it comes to digital platforms and other solutions, we’re improving with every new product, but we still have a way to go. I’d like to focus more on the future platforms and see how we can get that same level of trust and transparency in digital as we do in print.


AAM: What do you credit for Meredith’s success?

Doug Olson: I think there are four main reasons: 1). We have fantastic employees who work together collaboratively. 2). The incredible portfolio of brands that we've put together, especially since we acquired Time, Inc., is second to none. 3). A disciplined and experienced leadership team. Everybody here understands and believes deeply in this business. We are very fortunate to have a stable management team during these challenging years and that has benefitted us tremendously. 4). A very supportive board who believes in our traditional business as well as the digital future.


AAM: Why is Meredith an AAM client?

Doug Olson: As a premium content provider, we want trust and transparency in the media. It takes a lot of questions off the table when you can show advertisers information that's been audited and certified.


AAM: Are you concerned about ad fraud?

Doug Olson: Absolutely. The bad actors out there definitely hurt those of us who are doing it right. We believe that the premium content providers will continue to rise to the top. If we can get some of the bad actors out of the way, it's only good news for those of us who are doing it right.


AAM: How do you market Meredith brands as a safe place for advertisers?

Doug Olson: We come right out and say we're a safe place. We're a brand-safe environment, we have human traffic and real audiences and we welcome people who challenge us to prove that. Anything that we can do from an independent verification standpoint is good for the industry. That's where AAM plays such a critical role by bringing the buyers and publishers together, especially in the digital space.


As a premium content provider, we want trust and transparency in the media. It takes a lot of questions off the table when you can show information that’s been audited and certified.

Doug Olson, Meredith


AAM: What’s your take on AAM’s Brand View?

Doug Olson: The first time I saw it, I was like, "Why wouldn't we do this?" It makes complete sense. People are coming to AAM’s Media Intelligence Center to view our stats and see what the audits look like, so to me it’s a fabulous opportunity to showcase the great brands that we have and centralize it in a place where there's also an independent verification.


AAM: What are your biggest challenges?

Doug Olson: As president of the magazine group, I'm constantly fighting the perception of print. It amazes me that some of the other options out there are not brand safe, they're not measured and they're not working, but somehow, they get a pass. We’re just amazed that more people don't take advantage of our sales guarantee. We guarantee clients that if they buy enough advertising from us, they will get an ROI lift. We've done close to 80 of these sales guarantees over the last few years and not one time has the ROI not improved to where we said it would.


AAM: What can other publications can learn from Meredith's success?

Doug Olson: We try to do things the right way. We understand the realities of the marketplace. Things are getting tougher, so we must continue to outperform the market among the traditional business. At the same time, you must continue to invest in the future. I think we have done a good job of balancing that, where others might have tried to skip a few steps and go right into the new world. We're here to do the best job we possibly can and continue to invest in the future.

Getting to Know Doug:

Early riser or night owl?

Early riser.

Favorite book/movie/tv show?

I’ve taken some hits on this in the past, but I love watching The Voice. I also like comedy comedies and I'm a huge sports fan.

I would be lost without my…

iPhone. I’m addicted.

My favorite travel destination is…

New Zealand. My daughter was abroad for five months and we went to visit her. I'm definitely going back. Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, would be my second favorite.

A must have/must do part of my morning routine is…

Diet Mountain Dew. I don’t like coffee.

If I could have one superpower it would be…

I’d like to fly. It would make getting around New York City a lot easier.

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