AdMonsters Publisher Forum Keynote Jay Friedman: Transforming Workplace Flexibility at Goodway Group

Jay Friedman will bring his knowledge about staying ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving ad tech ecosystem during his keynote, “I Want To Spend More With You, Really. A Buy Side’s Perspective on Securing Incremental Spend,” at the AdMonsters Publisher Forum, where he’ll share insights into buy-side investment and measurement priorities for 2024. 

For Jay Friedman, CEO of Goodway Group, the path to a career in advertising and digital media began with a high school field trip to a local radio station. He learned about different jobs at the station and was awed by the advertising positions. 

“One job was to go around town and meet with companies to help them advertise. I marveled that I could grow up and use my brain toward something that actually impacted the real world, like selling a product, and not just work on theoretical problems all day,” recalled Friedman.

Friedman has come a long way since that lightbulb career moment at the radio station and has made a significant impact on the advertising industry. He’ll bring his knowledge of how to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving ad tech ecosystem during his keynote, “I Want To Spend More With You, Really. A Buy Side’s Perspective on Securing Incremental Spend,” at the AdMonsters Publisher Forum, where he’ll share insights into buy-side investment and measurement priorities for 2024. 

Building an Award-winning Workplace Culture

Friedman’s first job in advertising was at Y&R Detroit as a print traffic coordinator. 

“That job taught me a lot. Perhaps most important is that it’s easy for an employee to think management is unaware and making decisions without considering the employee,” said Friedman. “I’ve found that most often, that’s not the case at all. Having some empathy – on both sides – is really valuable.” 

Those early learnings about employees are something he brought to Goodway Group when he joined the media agency in 2006 and became CEO in December 2022. Friedman has transformed Goodway Group into a leading data-driven and tech-enabled digital media firm with a remote-first work model and an award-winning culture.

“We are proud of our workplace culture and wholeheartedly believe that a company is only as good as the people who work there. We’ve won numerous awards over the years, including the #1 spot on Ad Age’s Best Places to Work list and Newsweek’s list of the Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces in 2023,” said Friedman.

Friedman says the key for companies looking to create a strong workplace culture and attract prospective employees is to emphasize flexibility. At Goodway, he doesn’t use the term “work-life balance” and instead prefers “work-life integration.” Moving to this mindset helps set the expectation that employees may need to work at odd hours to get their jobs done, but it gives them flexibility during the day. 

“Taking your employees into consideration and allowing them the freedom to make their own choices goes a long way in retaining top talent and boosting performance,” said Friedman. 

Pioneering a Flexible Remote-first Work Model

Goodway Group was a pioneer in remote work long before the pandemic. Since 2008, the company has had a fully remote team of 400+ people working across the U.S. 

“Our company is living proof that remote work is effective, and we continue to get top marks for our company culture. We attract and retain top talent and boost employee performance in a complex market.”

Friedman suggests that companies trying to navigate the right balance between remote work, hybrid, and in-office should consider being all in or all out. Companies cannot provide a fully remote benefit to only a select few because it will “backfire by sowing envy among your staff.” 

“Employees want remote work. We’ve proven that it’s effective, and we know that going back to commuting and forcing people to be in-person is not what employees want and have come to expect,” said Friedman. “When people make their own choices, it shouldn’t surprise you how much more they appreciate the results.”

Friedman also recommends encouraging employees to pursue personal skills outside of work to help them be more effective employees. Friedman has been learning photography and says, “I’ve never taken the perfect picture and probably never will. But exposing myself to artistic failure and continuous improvement helps me think about business in even better ways.”

Making Moves to Overcome Industry Challenges

Goodway Group’s mission is to make marketing the force that helps consumers connect with each other through their shared love of brands. 

“All consumers love a brand, and every brand has at least some consumers who are passionate about it. Think about two people who have the same brand of car, camera, or even camping tent. There is an instant bond between those people for having chosen to express themselves with those brands,” said Friedman. “We want to provide that spark to everyone around the world, connecting as many people as possible.”

But making the connection between consumers and brands is getting more challenging as publishers face the impending cookieless landscape and mitigating privacy concerns.

Friedman says that as consumer search moves away from Google and Apple aims to shift everything to in-app, publishers should be thinking about moving toward in-app themselves.

“With in-app, brands can be the place where consumers initiate their searches and provide valuable content to them – whether it be news, products, or reviews. Brands can engage with consumers, and registering and authenticating users is a small price to pay,” said Friedman.

As we wrap up the year and move into 2024, Friedman sees the industry continuing to shift towards first-party data as we inch closer to a cookieless future.

“With more than 40% of the market being unaddressable due to cookie deprecation, cookies are more of a signal for directional understanding rather than direct measurement,” said Friedman. “The best marketers are already utilizing media mix modeling and incrementality testing, but the challenge is helping convey results to the executive team of a brand. Technical knowledge and storytelling techniques are critical to share this information in a clear way.”