AAPI Heritage Month: 10 Digital Media and Ad Tech Professionals Setting the Standard

AAPI Heritage Month sets time aside in May to celebrate the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders who made history in their communities and the country at large. 

Spearheaded by Representative Frank Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawai’i in 1977, the celebration only spanned the first 10 days until it expanded into the full month. While celebrating the rich histories of diverse communities should be a year round commitment, AdMonsters wanted to celebrate the AAPI persons in the ad tech and digital media communities who are innovating and evolving the industry. 

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, here are 10 AAPI ad tech and digital media professionals who are setting the standard for how the advertising ecosystem will advance in the coming years. 

Samuel Youn, Vice President, Programmatic, Chegg

Samuel Youn’s current role is Vice President of Programmatic at Chegg, and he serves as the business operations leader for digital ad monetization and revenue. His responsibility is to run the P&L of the ad organization, set the strategic vision for ads within Chegg’s product and monetization strategy, and drive revenue growth through programmatic innovation. 

In the ad tech industry, he aims to innovate programmatic solutions and drive change that leads to positive business outcomes for publishers. The industry is at a pivotal moment with privacy policy and identity changes, shifting buy-side priorities, and AI technology. Youn plans to partner with others in the industry to create lasting and positive outcomes for these extraordinary challenges and opportunities.

What advice did you wish you would have received at the start of your career?

Programmatic roles are often measured by short-term revenue targets. In these high stress environments, invest in setting ambitious long-term goals with an optimistic and opportunistic mindset.

Jeremy Gan, SVP Revenue Strategy & Data Operations, MailOnline

Jeremy Gan has served as SVP of Revenue Operation and Data Strategy at Daily Mail since July 2022. Jeremy joined Daily Mail in 2015 as a Programmatic Analyst. He has worked his way up through the years to lead its US operation in New York overseeing all indirect revenue and programmatic data.

Jeremy credits his innate curiosity to learn about all aspects of media (business, operations, and technical) to continue to come up with solutions for the ever-changing ad tech ecosystem. Through all the work he has done through the years, his goal remains to keep the website (content on the internet) free through effective monetization. 

There is an outcry for Asian representation across many industries. How do you feel about the representation of the AAPI community in ad tech, especially in leadership roles?

As the job description of ad operations evolved, I’ve witnessed a growing amount of Asian representation within the ad tech industry across different roles, from account management to product development and even leadership roles in cutting-edge solutions (i.e., Google Privacy Sandbox). I’m grateful to be part of an organization that provides equal opportunity for all, which is a critical foundational component of my professional growth, and I’m very proud to have the opportunity to pay it forward by continuing the effort by providing more options to the AAPI community as I continue to grow my team.

William Won, Head of Sales Operations, Brainly

William Won has been at Brainly for less than three-and-a-half years, and his role has changed quite a bit. At first, Brainly hired Won to lead the sales/revenue operations function specifically for the ads business, with the vision of building out the world’s largest education marketplace. About eight months into the job, Won took over the direct sales team and had to adapt Brainly’s business to a post-covid world where online education was at its highest, and the company’s growth had spiked, leading to its global growth of 3.5x. 

Through this time, Brainly had to adapt their business quickly and efficiently, and to do so, Won built and grew a product and engineering team dedicated explicitly to their ads business. His current role and responsibilities include direct sales, revenue/sales operations, programmatic, and ad product/technology.

There is an outcry for Asian representation across many industries. How do you feel about the representation of the AAPI community in ad tech, especially in leadership roles?

I have started seeing a growing number of people I’ve met or have seen at conferences, events, and roundtables that are AAPI, which is a huge positive, and I love to see it. Although it’s glaringly obvious that when it gets to the upper leadership levels and EMT, AAPI representation drops significantly — this is true for our Black+, Latinx+ colleagues as well. More is needed for companies to hire more diversity; companies need to do a better job of fostering these hires into leaders and creating a culture of growth and development. If you look at the employee retention of minority groups, it would be very telling.

Zip Nguyen, Business Intelligence & Yield Lead, BBC Studios

Zip Nguyen joined BBC Global News, now part of BBC Studios, in November 2019. She currently leads Business Intelligence, Pricing, Inventory, US Open Marketplace, and Yield for Ad Sales in the North America and LatAm region.

Additionally, Zip has served as the Deputy Chair of the BBC Studios Next Generation Board and Senior Leadership Team Advisor for the BBC Group. Before joining the BBC, Zip gained professional experience at New York Magazine, dentsu, and various marketing, ad tech, publisher, and media companies across the US, Vietnam, and Japan. 

There is an outcry for Asian representation across many industries. How do you feel about the representation of the AAPI community in ad tech, especially in leadership roles?

I feel a sense of hope and responsibility when it comes to representing the AAPI community and women in ad tech and leadership roles. As someone who constantly works on self-improvement, I am inspired by others’ success stories, particularly those who embody the core values I can relate to. I practice gratitude every day and actively take steps to create more opportunities for others in everything I do, especially for the underrepresented. This also includes bringing people from different walks of life together and helping pave the way for more people in the AAPI community to become leaders in their fields. Representation is essential, as are equity and progress.

Chao Liao, SVP, Insider Advertising – Revenue Operations & Data Strategy, Insider

As SVP of Insider Advertising – Revenue Operations & Data Strategy, Chao is responsible for advertising strategy, ad tech solutions, advertising operations, and overall client success. Chao has had extensive experience in tech start-ups and publishing throughout his career.

He believes in the value and power of media publishers when it comes to creating reader-first content, media, and data solutions. Chao focuses on accelerating business growth and transformation at Insider and developing a healthy advertising ecosystem through partnerships as the industry shifts away from third-party cookies.

What advice did you wish you would have received at the start of your career?

Sell to people who are ready to buy. Talk to people who are willing to listen. 

Erik Requidan, CEO and Founder of Media Tradecraft

As CEO and founder of multi-award-winning Media Tradecraft, Erik spearheads the next generation of media services for publishers. Media Tradecraft is the first-of-its-kind, one-to-one publisher services firm that offers a customized, in-sourced approach to its global publishers.

Erik is also the co-founder of the Minority Report Podcast, which highlights people of color, women & LGBTQ+ within media, business, and tech. Widely regarded as one of the top programmatic experts in the industry, he has played a pivotal role in significant ad tech movements and innovations, mainly focusing on strategy and utilization of the technologies that power the buy and sell process in digital advertising.

What advice did you wish you would have received at the start of your career?

Work hard on building a strong network and community. Work with purpose, vision and align with values. Pursue and focus on excellence over success. 

Michael Yeon, Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, Admiral

Michael Yeon is Admiral’s Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, overseeing business development and marketing at the industry’s first Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) platform.

He has spent the past seven years at the company growing a user base of thousands of publishers and sites worldwide by helping content providers enable adblock revenue recovery, launch digital subscription programs, drive email acquisition and social growth, and manage visitor privacy and consent through Admiral’s single-platform solution. A publishing industry veteran, Michael has held leadership positions in marketing and sales at companies such as Grooveshark, Open Road, Rolling Stone, Conde Nast, Hearst, and more.

What advice did you wish you would have received at the start of your career?

I spent the first 15 years of my career on the publisher side, so dealing with vendors was part of the job. Almost every publisher reading this can attest that their inboxes overflow with drip campaigns and inquiries from ad tech/martech/pubtech vendors, all pitching different solutions to the same end; “I will make you more money.” It’s easy to dismiss, ignore, or deprioritize these conversations, and I’d certainly been guilty of this when I stood on the buy side pedestal, but the piece of advice I’d give my younger self would have been, “Make the time and listen, you just might learn something.” 

Addy Atienza, Sr Director Ad Technology and Operations, TMB

Addy started his career 13 years ago at Heavy.com, a quintessential mid-2000s  publisher focused on branded content, sports, teenage humor, and comedy. When he joined, he was a wide-eyed kid right out of college where advertising was what he saw on Mad Men, but with more folks wearing skinny jeans and flannel.

His position at Heavy led to a 10+ year journey through ad tech, having worked with companies that could’ve been the next big thing, to learn the Dark Arts of Ad Ops, and through endless industry initiatives that saw companies fold, grow, and ultimately evolve. Addy spent half of his career on the vendor side, working for different SSPs and Tech companies and the other half working for publishers. This journey led to his success since it helped him foster many beautiful relationships.

There is an outcry for Asian representation across many industries. How do you feel about the representation of the AAPI community in ad tech, especially in leadership roles?

As a Filipino American, I grew up with the notion that other Filipinos had to go to school, study medicine, become a nurse or a doctor. I took a risk by choosing to study advertising at school without the certainty of a job after. If not for a fellow Filipino already working at Heavy, I may have never been able to enter this field. This is why representation and inclusion is so important to me. I want to give not just Asian Americans but anyone trying to decide what to do after college an opportunity to break into this field and see that Ad Tech is an option for them.

Justin Loresco, Sr. Director of Sales and Marketing, AdMonsters 

Justin joined AdMonsters in 2014 as a Sales Director and was initially one of three salespeople. After nine years, he is now the Sr. Director of Sales & Marketing with sole responsibility for carrying all event and digital revenue for the brand.

Working in events and media that serve the ad tech industry has offered him a unique perspective on the space. It has allowed Justin to have front-row tickets to the rise, fall, transformation, and trends of many technologies and companies within the space. It’s rewarding for him to be the conduit between buyers and sellers of ad tech that helps drive the industry forward, even if it’s from an outside-looking position.

What advice did you wish you would have received at the start of your career?

Take more risks, and value your own worth as an asset.

Ziad Ahmed, CEO, JUV Consulting

Ziad Ahmed is the CEO of JUV Consulting, a Generation Z company that works with clients to help them connect with young people. JUV has worked with over 20 Fortune 500 companies, profiled by The New York Times, and launched major purpose-driven TikTok campaigns. Because of JUV, Ahmed was named to the 2019 Forbes #30Under30 list when he was 19. 

Ahmed also recently graduated from Yale. Additionally, Ziad is the Founder of Redefy, a youth-run non-profit committed to furthering equality. He speaks often on the power of his generation, and he seeks to use his voice to push the envelope forward wherever/however possible. Overwhelmingly though, he’s just another Gen Zer spending too much time on TikTok.