'Data keeps me sane': Beyond the Brief with Raphael Rivilla, Marcus Thomas LLC

Raphael Rivilla, Marcus Thomas LLC

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)?

Raphael Rivilla is the vice president of media and connections planning at Marcus Thomas LLC, an independent Midwest advertising agency that has worked with clients including Buitoni, Sherwin-Williams, Nestle and more.

Rivilla has been doing this work for 14 years driving brand and direct response campaigns for both B2B and B2C clients. He has worked throughout the process including integrated digital media and marketing, organic traffic optimization, social and mobile marketing, to department and staff development

His work in the industry, plus his passion for data, shows he is living beyond the brief.

What keeps you sane in this industry? What keeps you driven to do great work?

One answer for both: data. Data keeps me sane, with all the shiny, bright objects appearing almost every day, it can be easy to get lost in all the marketing hype.

Being in media, at the end of the day, we are investors of our client's dollars and data is everywhere and data makes decisions really simple. Data makes things black and white. When things are black and white, there is sanity in the chaos of marketing. What keeps me driven to do great work? A rabid appetite for trying and testing new things and the data we get almost immediately to quantify success.

Who, or what, do you consider the future of the industry?

The future of the industry is a combination of blockchain technology [and] programmatic trading [and] consumers owning the space in their devices which they can offer up to advertisers. With the rise of ad-blocking, the continued decline of digital media performance and quality, our industry needs a sea change.

What if there was a solution where a consumer can receive and act-on a hyper-relevant ad that they approved receiving; where this approval takes a thousandth of a second in trading, where these actions were collected in a blockchain ledger for everyone to approve and activate against, including the consumer?

I would suspect that performance would increase, revenues would increase, and ad-blocking would slow down.

If you were a client for a day, what would you tell your agency?

"Let's partner more—I'll give you all the information you need and be relentlessly kind with my honest feedback and all I ask is the same in return."

What’s your passion outside of advertising?

My passion is making music. I use a set of keyboards, a couple of software programs, sometimes a bass guitar. It's so cool how something tangible can come from thin air and how a piece of music can create itself through the composer. There's math in it too and there's definitely creativity. Sounds like media.

What life advice do you give others?

Travel. You can do anything else you want, but you need to travel. Go far away to different places in the world to experience life outside your bubble. You will find out really interesting things about yourself through visiting unknown places and the experiences you have will change you.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Haley Velasco

Haley Velasco is a writer based in Chicago, IL, who has a background in PR for a sports media company and has reported on a variety of topics, including sports, opinion, politics and celebrity news. Based in the Windy City, she covers industry happenings in the Midwest and throughout North America. She has been reporting for The Drum since May 2016.

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