Monster In the Mirror: isocket’s Lisa Backman

What Makes Lisa Backman's Workday Tick?

People work in unique and fascinating ways; and, AdMonsters wants to highlight the creative ways that ad-ops professionals run their businesses and operations. Called “Monster In the Mirror,” each week we’ll showcase how industry leaders work — from their favorite organizational tools and technologies to their favorite ad-ops trends. This week, we feature isocket’s Director of Ad Ops and Yield, Lisa Backman, who pops from Cosi to Starbucks around Manhattan, and ocassionally hosts team meetings in her children’s playroom, while isocket puts the finishing touches on its New York office. And, what’s the one thing Lisa always has to have in any workspace? Her ergonomic external mouse, of course. 

Read more about what makes Lisa Backman’s workday tick; and, stay tuned as we regularly showcase some of the most unique, creative and innovative workspaces and routines in the ad operations world. 


Name: Lisa Backman       

Title: Director, Ad Ops & Yield

Company: isocket

Location: New York 

Current Computer: HP Folio 13

Current Mobile Device: iPhone 4

One word that describes how you work: “Passionately”

How do you describe what you do to your family? “Keeping your favorite websites free by building technology that helps sites to monetize their digital ad space”

If you weren’t in ad operations, what would you be doing? “A Latin teacher”

                                                        Last AdMonsters Event? “Does [the] NYC Ad Hoc AdOps                                                                      meet up count?”

Time and Work Management

Inbox – aim for zero or is it infinitely long? “I don’t understand ‘infinitely long inbox’ people – they’re the people that always seem to ‘never have gotten your email’ – aren’t they? Shooting for zero is not a realistic goal for me, but I’m feeling totally on my game when I can see all items in my inbox in view without scrolling. So that’s < 15 on the computer… but sometimes I put my inbox on my big monitor when it’s more like 30 to make myself feel better.”

How do you manage your to-do list? “Handwritten in a note pad of course! I start every morning with the 3-5 things I have to do that day. Eventually the list grows to include the other 10-500 things I’d like to do that day but likely won’t, but the initial priority-setting keeps me focused.”

What’s your workspace like? “isocket will be opening its New York City office next month, but for now, you’ll find me hunched over at various Starbucks and Cosis of Manhattan or my dining room table, and occasionally hosting team meetings out of the children’s playroom in my apartment building (Hey, the chalkboard is an excellent whiteboard substitute!).  

“The one thing that comes with me to any makeshift workstation is my external mouse – one of those massive ergonomic ones that people always pick up and tilt their head to the side and say ‘Really?’And, if we’re being honest here… generally my workspace will be littered with multiple half-drank cups of coffee, an open jar of peanut butter, cupcake wrappers, crumb-covered plates and other debris.”

Are you 24/7 or do you turn off work at some point? “Turn off work? What’s that? Just kidding, there was this one time I Amtrak-ing it and the WiFi went out for 30 minutes…”

What do you spend most of your day on? Management? Tech? Operations? Trafficking? “Right now, largely operations, tech, product and hiring. Did I mention we’re hiring?”

Ad Operations and Technology

What are the ad ops and process software, tools and apps you can’t live without? “Hipchat and Skype for cross-country communication. Simultaneously, Google Chrome, Firefox and I’m even giving IE 10 a shot – to minimize logging in and out of various systems. for product feedback and coordination. Box for basic file sharing and Google Drive for collaborative projects. And, of course, Spotify when I need plug in, listen to Girl Talk, and power through the inbox.”

What’s your least favorite industry buzzword? “‘Onboarding.’ It makes me think of waterboarding. As an industry, we’ve got to focus on new customer integrations that are easy and painless — and have nothing in common with waterboarding.”

What buzzword do you find yourself using the most? “‘Iterate.’ I love to test, learn, then iterate, don’t you?”

What industry trend are you following the closest? “Programmatic reserved (known by other names such as ‘programmatic direct,’ ‘programmatic guaranteed’ or ‘programmatic premium‘) is going to be a remarkable growth area in 2013 into 2014. Looking forward for it to become a term whose definition we all finally feel comfortable with so we can start focusing on products and tools dedicated to driving efficiency for the direct side of the business. [It] will be exciting to see the companies (both sell- and buy-side alike) that start to break down the walls between ‘traditional direct’ and everything else and develop integrated, multi-channel digital strategies that are complementary, not competitive.”  

What’s your advice to up-and-coming digital strategists? “Develop an intellectual curiosity for what you do, what others around you are doing, and how they do it. Seek out problems to solve – not just those that arise, and have the discipline to work on the hard and/or long term solutions. If someone isn’t understanding what you’re saying, take that as a challenge to rethink how and what you’re communicating. Ask lots of questions, but challenge yourself to find answers to the ones that you can. And the piece of advice that’s easy to give but hard to remember yourself…don’t take it so seriously! Take time to acknowledge the things that are working really well, and make time to have lunch with your coworkers – and call your grandmother (even if every time you call she makes you spell your company’s name and explain what it is you do again.)”