5 Questions for Kristen O'Hara, Chief Business Officer of Hearst Magazines
At the start of 2020, former Snap Inc. exec Kristen O'Hara joined Hearst Magazines as senior vice president and chief business officer. In the new role, created after Michael Clinton's retirement last year, O'Hara is leading marketing and advertising sales across all Hearst Magazines brands.
Before briefly overseeing business solutions at Snap in 2018, O'Hara spent more than a decade with Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) in senior marketing and sales positions, including as chief marketing officer of HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. In the announcement of O'Hara's appointment, Hearst leadership said her multi-platform selling experience would be vital as advertisers seek creative ways to engage audiences in an evolving media industry.
Publishing Executive caught up with O'Hara via email to learn about her top priorities as chief business officer of Hearst Magazines, as well as future growth opportunities for its portfolio of more than 25 brands.
As SVP and chief business officer, what is your main focus?
My most important job right now is to listen — to our clients and our people. I am getting to know this talented team with whom I am fortunate to work with every day. I’m spending a lot of time with our clients and agency partners to hear about the challenges and opportunities they see, so that together we can deliver marketing solutions that drive performance. It’s been enlightening on all fronts.
How did your previous roles at Snap Inc. and Time Warner prepare you for this role?
In both companies, I led teams that sold across multiple brands and platforms. This is certainly going to come in handy given my oversight of sales, marketing, and services across Hearst Magazines’ incredible portfolio.
Having been on the client side at points of my career, I have first-hand knowledge of the increasingly complex challenges our business partners are facing. CMOs now need to be equal parts marketing, data, and technology while galvanizing their organization internally and their partners externally around new goals.
What are your initial priorities over the next six months or so?
As the media landscape continues to change, so too has the way we need to think about evolving our brands and serving our clients. We will focus on how to bring them solutions, not just assets or audiences. We will also focus on how to create new products and services that address the needs and opportunities we see in the marketplace. We want to bring our partners creative, innovative, and ambitious solutions in the most seamless, efficient way possible.
What do you hope to accomplish in the longer term, and where do you see opportunities for growth?
Hearst Magazines’ portfolio of brands plays an important role in the lives of millions of consumers — across every medium. We have the opportunity to further serve marketers and consumers with best-in-class content across all platforms by leveraging data and technology. We capture meaningful lifestyle data from more than 31 brands every day ranging from food to pharma and beauty to bicycling. That first-party data will become increasingly valuable as the third-party cookie crumbles in the coming years. We know our content accelerates commerce — over 1,000 products are sold every hour of every day directly from our content. We will continue to identify new revenue streams across our brands that serve both our B2C and B2B customers meaningfully and authentically.
What high-level advertising and marketing trends are you keeping an eye on?
Video — We’re continuing our focus in video as it will play an increasingly important role in a 5G world.
Commerce — With the rise of DTC, Hearst is uniquely positioned to connect content with commerce.
Data & Privacy — With sweeping changes on the role of third-party cookies, this is a place Hearst can really lead given its powerful first-party data.
Leah Wynalek is the senior editor for Publishing Executive and Book Business. She has worked at national magazine publishing companies including Trusted Media Brands and Rodale, where she assisted in digital content creation and strategy for Prevention.com. More recently, she used her multimedia skillset on behalf of clients as a content specialist for Philadelphia-based marketing agency En Route.