Meet The Suite - CSO | Kurt Filla



Tell us about you, what you're into, and what you like to do in your spare time.

The most important thing in my life is my faith and my family. My wife and I have five children. We love to travel with the Filla clan to see various parts of the US and the world. I love nature and outdoor activities like rafting, fishing, biking, and hiking. I also love the symphony, music theatre and the arts. I enjoy talking about religion and politics, especially with people who hold different viewpoints. I even have a passion for cooking with a special interest in Thai and Korean food.

Share your favorite movie, music, and book.

My favorite movie is August Rush. For music, my favorite would be "Falling Slowly" from the musical Once. My choice for favorite book is "The Dark Night of the Soul" by St John of the Cross.

How long have you been with Adtegrity and how did you originally get involved?

I was the second employee with Adtegrity and have been here for almost 17 years. I knew Scott Brew our CEO from college. We went to the University of Illinois together and both ended up at a local telephone company here in Grand Rapids called USXchange. When Scott started working in the internet space and began building a business model of bringing together buyers and sellers who were looking for online banner display ads, I was very eager to come on board. It was exciting to begin building a company dedicated to integrity and quality in the emerging area of online digital advertising. I love our name, our culture, our team and am grateful every day for coming on board.


You're currently the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). What does your role entail?

As Chief strategy officer, I am in charge of the Account management team who oversees all of our day to day client management. Our team receives the hand-off from sales once a campaign has been planned, the IO signed and is ready for launch. Our team manages the day to day pacing and optimization of each strategy and we work tirelessly to achieve outstanding results. We focus on being highly involved and consider ourselves to be consultants or advocates for our client’s best interests. We treat each campaign as if the money being spent were our own and seek to drive the best results possible. One key focus of mine is to ensure that as a team we are using every feature and toolset available to us to meet or even beat our ROI goals. Additionally, over the years I have worked closely with IT to help engineer a suite of tools on the back end that automate some of our processes. We strive to have a perfect balance of hands on optimization and automation. We never want to set and forget it. Rather, we set up our automations and then tweak them each and every day to drive. This allows us to make sure that as the data changes, we are adapting with the emerging trends. Where a campaign begins is rarely where it ends. Our goal is to tell a story by moving a campaign along a cycle of learning; we are constantly adjusting multiple variables to find the perfect mix of traffic to drive the results we are aiming for.


As you make decisions for Adtegrity, what influences you? Do you have some industry sources or people you follow or lean on?

What influences me most are our clients. Their goals, their needs, and their aspirations drive the decisions we make here at our company. Of course the industry is ever changing and staying informed, current and quickly adapting to emerging technologies and trends is crucial to our success. How we choose to use the resources we have at our disposal that is most relevant. That is driven by our clients. Understanding them, and advocating for their success shapes all that we do. We put our heart and soul into making their campaigns successful and that is evident through the daily care given to each campaign. We do not try to force a client into a pre-made cookie cutter package. We know that each client is different and those differences drive us to be better, smarter and faster. It drives us to seek out new partners, new technologies and new solutions to meet those demands and exceed every expectation.


Certainly the industry has changed since you first got involved. What, in your opinion, has been the change that has had the biggest impact on Adtegrity?

It was the fall of 2006 and I was at an I-media summit conference having drinks with a guy named Michael Walrath, the founder of Right Media. He was sharing with me his vision of a new eco-system of online ad buying. Buyers and sellers would come together in an exchange where there would be a bidding war for inventory giving buyers and sellers greater access to traffic and a unique ability to scale. In that moment, without a doubt, I knew partnering with Michael and his team at Right Media would be the most important and strategic decision our company had ever made. I was a believer. When I came back to the office I had the amazing task of trying to evangelize everyone here internally on what I just heard. To my surprise I was able to quickly convinced the team that we had to jump on board and test. We were the #2 partner on the Right Media platform and it revolutionized our company, the industry as a whole and fundamentally changed everything about how we did business. That was a turning point that taught us a great deal about partnering with innovators and not being afraid to take risks.


What do you think will be the next sea change for the advertising industry?

Wow great, question, if I knew, I would want to be one of the innovators of it that sea change. There are so many smart people and companies that continue to develop new and exciting products, tools, platforms and technologies. Predicting which one will cause a sea change is virtually impossible. I think what is most important for us to use our knowledge and resources to continue collaborating with those innovators and not be afraid to take risks. We have to be ready for change.


Adtegrity has remained a constant in the industry for over a dozen years, that's quite rare. What's the secret sauce?

Integrity! Seriously, we care about doing things well and put our clients first! We take care of our employees and have tried to create a culture where good work gets rewarded. I think our clients see the passion and results we have, which is infectious. Integrity, its adtegrity’s story.


Share a few things you know today that you wish you'd known when you first got into advertising.

I think everything happens for a reason and you learn as you go and that is part of life. There is not really one thing that grabs me in that I wish I knew it before I knew it. I think personally I have learned over the years to be more trusting and more inclusive of others. I don’t always have to be right. It is often better to listen than to talk, for me that helps me to learn faster, when I take time to listen to others.





Topics: Meet the Suite