As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we celebrate the rich cultural diversity and contributions of people in digital media and ad tech one last time before the month concludes.
As the daughter of a first-generation Cuban mother, it’s been vital for Sofia Santiago, Senior Director of Global Pricing & Inventory at Match Media Group, to “reclaim the culture.” We had the honor of chatting with her about the importance of reclaiming her cultural roots and preserving her Cuban heritage, as she puts it.
Santiago’s desire to honor her roots stems from her deep appreciation for her family’s history. By tracing her family tree, learning Spanish, and cooking traditional Cuban dishes, she’s actively built her cultural identity and hopes to pass her Cuban traditions to future generations.
Join us as we explore this digital media and advertising veteran’s journey of embracing her cultural roots, navigating her identity, and achieving remarkable success in the media industry.
Cuban to the Bone
Although Santiago is only half Cuban, in her eyes, since her maternal side is of Cuban descent, it’s enough to be considered full-blown. Even though her father is Irish American, much like myself, she feels that a child is always more of their mother than their father.
Getting in tune with her Hispanic roots is something she takes pride in. Santiago has even visited Cuba and brought her daughter, who is now eight, to explore and learn about the country’s rich cultural heritage. Her trip to the largest island of the West Indies was filled with excitement and lots of family activity, where she got to learn more about herself personally and the people she comes from. The trip also served as an eye-opener for her.
Let Santiago tell it: Cuba is not the place for vacation. Why, you ask? Necessities are scarce. “It was tough just to get the basic necessities, and that’s going there as a tourist with money to spend,” she explained. “So you can just imagine the people actually living there.”
In the same breath, she pointed out that not a single person asked her for money and that when they saw her with her baby, they showered her with offerings like baby clothes and candy, which is a testament to the hearts of the natives she came in contact with, no matter their circumstances. Witnessing the resilience and strength of the Cuban people in the face of adversity profoundly impacted Santiago. It further deepened her appreciation for her heritage and the importance of embracing cultural roots.
Professional Success in the Realm of Online Dating
Much like the experience of dating app users, Santiago’s career path has been one representative of being selective, setting clear intentions, embracing opportunities, and forging one’s own path. From early on, she’s always been a fan of numbers, as they came easy to her as a child, which continued into adulthood.
“In professional roles, I like being able to tell stories and make cases with those numbers,” she shared. “I like being on the publisher end of media, but I was always more interested in how I could support operations internally versus a client-facing role. So pricing and inventory always made sense to me.”
Ironically, the operations professional doesn’t consider her employer, Match Media Group a publisher, considering they don’t publish content like a traditional publisher does. Match Group owns the largest global portfolio of popular online dating services, including Tinder, Match.com, Meetic, OkCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, OurTime, and other dating global brands. And since marketers can leverage the aggregated audience, data, and insights from millions of global users across the company’s portfolio, the company is a great partner for advertisers looking to reach diverse audiences.
How do ads work on dating apps, you’re wondering? They mostly come in native ads, mainly geared towards men. Female users hold the most value on dating apps, and Match Media Group is cautious about messing up the user experience for women. As a digital ad sales professional in the dating app world, having a unique perspective on user experience has been a valuable tool for Santiago.
Her career growth and dedication reflect her professional satisfaction and the positive impact she has made at the company. After all, she has been at Match Media Group for eight years.
The Future is Bright for Sofia Santiago
As we celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month, Santiago’s story is a testament to the importance of hard work and consistency while working towards elevating your success.
She recognizes the importance of mentorship and pays it forward and has been fortunate to have exceptional mentors throughout her career who have guided and inspired her along the way. She is committed to mentoring junior professionals, sharing their experiences, and helping others navigate their career paths. She also advocates for diversity and inclusion, contributing to a more equitable and welcoming workplace environment.
“I’ve been really lucky to have had great bosses throughout my career in this industry, and I think the common thread amongst them is that they entrusted me and given me the autonomy to make my own decisions,” Santiago shared. “I think I’ve just been fortunate in that regard. It’s impacted my desire to mentor others in more junior roles and share whatever knowledge I can with them based on my experience.”