What does the AAM chairwoman do? How much can a 102-year-old organization change in two years? What’s ahead for AAM clients and the media industry? Chris Meringolo weighs in a new Q&A.
As vice president of Bayer Consumer Health, Chris Meringolo oversees the integrated marketing solutions team that activates Bayer’s message by creating stronger meaning and connections with consumers. Meringolo joined AAM’s board in 2008 to represent advertisers, became chairwoman in 2014 and led AAM over the past two years. See part two of our interview with Chris.
1. How would you describe AAM’s role in the industry in five words or less?
Christina Meringolo: Help buyers buy, sellers sell.
2. How did you get involved with AAM?
CM: I first got involved in AAM from a dear friend and agency colleague of mine Charlie Rutman. Charlie was in the lead role at the media agency that my company was working with at the time and he sat on the then-ABC board. He told me that the board needed a new director to represent ABC’s marketing clients and he nominated me. I was quite familiar with ABC from working on both the agency and marketer sides of the advertising business, relying on the “pink sheet” or magazine publisher’s statements. Charlie convinced me that being a director would be something I would find rewarding and enjoyable, and he explained ABC’s tripartite nature structure in a way that really resonated with me. Now it has been almost nine years since I joined AAM’s North American board.
3. What were some of your goals when you began as AAM chairwoman a couple years ago?
CM: When I began as chairwoman, a major goal of mine was to figure out how to help AAM grow its digital verification services in a way that supported our constituents and did not conflict with our core role in the industry. One of the first challenges was finding the right successor for Mike Lavery, who was retiring as AAM president. This digital perspective was a critical component of what we looked for when we brought Tom Drouillard on board. And since then, AAM has done an unbelievable job expanding its role in the digital space. It has been a big shift to get beyond verifying print distribution and start looking at other measures of transaction, especially because AAM’s publisher clients are each at different stages in shifting to digital media. I think that we have been able to make this shift productively by constantly listening and understanding the perspectives of AAM’s different constituents. We’ve basically doubled our digital business in less than two years and we’re geared toward making even more improvements.
In addition to this digital growth, our industry partnerships have helped us advance how we can help buyers buy and sellers sell. Collaboration has propelled us forward, from our partnership with the ANA to merging with other organizations, such as the CAC [Certified Audit of Circulations]. At the end of the day, we’re all here to serve the industry and there is strength in doing that together.
4. What has been your proudest accomplishment as AAM’s chairwoman?
CM: Overall, I am proud of the way that we have been evolving and finding new ways of bringing value to our clients. Looking toward next year, the AAM team is expanding on what we’ve done with Site Certifier to create an offering for publishers, and soon for buyers, to really help them follow their audience and inventory. So after two years serving as AAM’s chairwoman, I would say I’m leaving on a high note because the introduction of these new capabilities is a major step toward change for AAM.
5. Is there anything else you would like to share about your time being AAM’s chairwoman?
CM: It has been a pleasure to serve in a position where I’m able to help bring forth change in a way that is valuable to a very mixed group of media professionals. That’s not always easy. However, through AAM’s tripartite structure and leadership team, I’ve seen us work through the dynamics of AAM’s diverse constituency and drive value for our clients. It has been a true pleasure to be a part of this process and work with people who are so committed to doing what’s right for the industry.
Get to Know Chris
Are you involved in any other industry initiatives?
I am involved with the ANA. More recently I have dedicated a lot of time to the AAM and especially its partnerships with the ANA. Being on the board of AAM has been a full-time second job for me.
Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Over the years, I have become an early riser. I wake up at 5 a.m. on weekdays because that’s the time I set aside for myself to get up and workout.
How do you get your caffeine fix?
I do not drink caffeine, so I guess my equivalent of a caffeine fix is my morning workout. And if I really need a little pick me up, I eat a piece of very dark chocolate.
Books or movies? Any recommendations?
A lot of the books that I read are more informational. As for movies, I am going to say Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn. It was during that movie that I fell in love with the Porche 911. I still aspire to have one someday, although I don’t know how to drive a stick shift.
I would be lost without my…