ADM Takes a Conservative Approach to Growth — and It’s Working

Accelerated Digital Marketing has found success with a more sustainable approach to growth, one predicated on hiring the right people and training them to perform their best.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Sep. 28, 2023
ADM Takes a Conservative Approach to Growth — and It’s Working
Accelerated Digital Media
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“Conservative” is somewhat of a dirty word in tech. Conventional wisdom holds that moving methodically and making calculated decisions is antithetical to growth. Tech companies are supposed to race to adopt the newest technologies, be the first to enter a new market and, above all, grow their teams at a rapid rate.

Accelerated Digital Media would disagree. The performance marketing agency has found success by being conservative, specifically when it comes to hiring. 

That wasn’t always the case, though. Director of Search Erica Magnotto joined the team in June of 2021 and remembers a different mindset predominating at the time.

“Initially, there was an appetite among leadership to have 2-3x growth in a year,” said Magnotto. “However, it quickly became apparent that we needed a stronger internal infrastructure: more client processes in place, stronger automation, sound growth paths for employees and a culture that complemented a remote environment.”

ADM did what few companies in tech were willing to do at the time: It pulled the brakes. As others snapped up talent, leadership turned their attention away from scaling and toward sustainability, with a specific focus on building out its service offerings and equipping employees to provide the best service possible to customers.

Two years later, as other companies now pull back on hiring, ADM has fully crystallized its foundation and is ready to expand its team.

“Now, the vision is not to grow at such a rapid rate but instead to build upon what we consider an extremely sound infrastructure by hiring the right talent and partnering with the best clients,” said Magnotto.

 

“Now, the vision is not to grow at a rapid rate but instead to build upon an extremely sound infrastructure, hiring the right talent and partnering with the best clients.”

 

People-Powered Growth

Hiring the “right” people is important to all companies in tech, but it’s even more important to agencies like ADM, whose people are their product. Team members’ individual expertise and decision-making skills are key to the success of the accounts they manage, and when those accounts grow, so too does the company. 

Also, when companies find success working with ADM, they tend to tell others in their industry said VP of Client Growth Eric Picchietti

“We have historically received 50 percent of our new business from client referrals, which has been the single greatest driver of our growth,” said Picchietti. “It’s the clients’ interactions with our team on a day-to-day basis that yields strong relationships and ultimately leads to our clients advocating for us.”

Those referrals aren’t given out because of the good vibes ADM’s team gives off. Personality certainly plays a part, but as the industry name indicates, in performance marketing it’s the results that matter. In addition to hiring the right people, ADM strives to keep its team on the forefront of advances in search engine marketing, paid social and programmatic advertising.

Along with financial support for pursuing industry certifications and taking courses, continuing education is part of the company’s quarterly goal structure, explained Director of Paid Social Victoria Sullivan.

“In paid social, we allocate one to two goals to ongoing education, be it mastering a platform or adopting an advertising strategy spanning multiple campaigns,” said Sullivan. “Consistently setting these targets underscores the importance of continuing education to the team.”

Picchietti concurred, adding that training on new product updates and the ins and outs of automated targeting and bidding has been “critical” to driving better client outcomes.

One such client is Caraway, a direct-to-consumer cookware company. In a recent quarterly earnings call, Philipp Schindler, SVP and chief business officer at Google, commended the ADM team for their command of PMax, a new Google Ads campaign type powered by machine learning, as well as for their use of a new bidding strategy. 

“PMax drove a 46 percent increase in revenue and 31 percent jump in return on ad spend, leading to Caraway’s best business day in history,” said Schindler.

 

Group photo of ADM team members in front of Chicago’s Cloudgate sculpture, a.k.a. “The Bean.”
Accelerated Digital Media

 

 

An Evolving Business

As the Google shoutout shows, ADM’s growth depends on staying ahead of the latest developments in paid media. Some of those developments are out of the company’s control, such as the demise of third-party cookies or the rise of — you guessed it — artificial intelligence in the space. 

Magnotto used these two industry shifts as an example of how ADM responds to changing industry trends. 

“Our teams are consistently reviewing what’s new in both of these spaces and creating point-of-view reports, best practices and trainings around each of these topics,” said Magnotto.

For Sullivan, staying on top of ever-changing consumer preferences in social media is always a top priority, whether it’s the rise of TikTok, the growth of Threads or changes in X. However, Sullivan and her colleagues also play a more proactive role in ADM’s evolution.

“One of the most significant investments we’ve made was to create a compelling creative offering,” said Sullivan. “This additional service will cater to a broader range of potential clients who approach us with combined needs of paid social and creative services.”
 

Related ReadingAt Accelerated Digital Media, ‘High Growth’ Is Holistic

 

In the past year, the company has also spun up two new teams: the data and analytics team, which is responsible for tagging, data collection, reporting and more, and the media strategy team, a completely new arm of the company focused on small- to medium-sized businesses. 

While the accounts it handles are smaller, Magnotto was quick to point out that the media strategy team will play a big role in ADM’s growth plans.

“This new department will allow for ADM to offer our services to a wider range of clients, while customizing our offering to their needs,” said Magnotto. “In turn, this means more opportunities and greater growth for ADM in 2024.”

 

ADM team members on couches and floor, posed for a group photo.
Accelerated Digital Media

 

A New Definition

ADM cannot single-handedly change the tech industry’s opinion on the word “conservative,” but it is winning over the hearts and minds of its employees. Magnotto’s understanding of growth has changed since joining the company and is now more holistic and factors in not just revenue but also client retention and the current state of the talent market.

“I now understand growth is a consistent balancing act — it’s the company’s responsibility to make strategic hiring and sales decisions to ensure incremental growth without sacrificing revenue or employee retention,” said Magnotto.

Sullivan has also seen her perspective shift away from a more linear understanding of growth to one that takes into account the ups and downs a company experiences over time. 

“During my time at ADM, I’ve come to understand that growth rarely follows a straightforward trajectory,” said Sullivan. “It involves periods of noticeable progress as well as intervals of stagnation or even setbacks, all of which contribute to future advancement.”

Of course, ADM’s growth philosophy wouldn’t be accepted by its team if it didn’t yield results. The SEM and paid search teams, which Picchietti called ADM’s “core offering,” are both currently hiring. Outside of the immediate hires, Picchietti, who has been with the company for five years, is extremely bullish on ADM’s growth strategy and future.

“We have exceeded all of my expectations since I joined the company,” he said. “We aren’t showing any signs of slowing down and expect the next five years to be as equally transformational as the last five.”

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Accelerated Digital Media.

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