Matt Prohaska | Online Advertising Pioneer: from CNET to Sesame Street to NY Times, Scaling a Consulting Firm


There are a host of experts and companies who can help you advertise online.

Our guest this week pioneered online advertising.

Matt Prohaska is the CEO and Principal at Prohaska Consulting, which provides senior-level solutions for a myriad of Publishers, Industry Groups, Ad Tech Firms, Agencies, Investors and Brands. Matt is one of the early leaders in the shift from offline to online advertising that has had a ripple effect across the business world. 

In this episode, John Corcoran is joined by Matt Prohaska to talk about the early days of online advertising, working with The New York Times, and crafting the first legal mp3 service.

In this episode, we also talk about:

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  • The Early Days of CNET
  • Convincing Companies to Advertise Online 
  • What Broadband Internet Was Like
  • Working with Ryan Seacrest
  • Helping Sesame Street Get an Online Presence
  • Building the first tablet device
  • Lessons Learned from the DotCom Meltdown
  • Crafting the First Legal mp3 Service
  • What Was “Gift Gang”?
  • How Matt Came to Join the New York Times
  • Why Matt Has Experienced Recent Growth 
  • The Hardest Part of Being a Founder and CEO
  • Who Matt Thanks for His Success

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing. 

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

To learn more, go to Rise25.com or email us at [email protected]. To learn more, book a call with us here.

Check out Rise25 to learn more about our done-for-you lead generation and podcast services.

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Episode Transcript

John Corcoran  0:40  

Alright, welcome everyone. My guest on the show is Matt Prohaska, who maybe you haven’t heard of him before. But he was one of the early leaders in one of the most profound changes that’s happened in business and I’m talking about the shift from offline to online advertising which has had such a ripple effect across so many different industries and society, and just enroll. Know today it’s kind of a given that businesses are advertising online in some form. But it wasn’t that long ago that that was not Gospels. 

So I invited Matt on the show today because he’s got a really interesting career background trajectory. He’s the co founder and principal of Prohaska Consulting, 26 year media veteran. He’s worked at a bunch of interesting places. He’s scaled up his consulting firm, so we’ll ask him about that. He’s contributed to growth of online advertising since its early commercial inception in the early 90s. He worked at BBDO. He worked, opening the CNET office in New York and serves as a source first regional sales manager. He was even the online director of sales for Sesame Street. We’ll ask him about that. He’s also done a stint at the New York Times. So really esteemed background worked with clients such as Google, Univision Under Armour, Toyota and a number of others. 

But first before we get to that podcast is brought to you by Rise25 Media which our mission is to help b2b businesses to build better relationships. We do this by Helping b2b businesses get more clients referral partners and strategic partners through done for you podcasts and content marketing. And what we’re doing right now what I’m doing right now is not just marketing, it’s also relationship building. It’s also networking. Our company has over 20 years experience in this area, we believe firmly that starting a podcast one of the best things you can do for your business and for you, personally, and so I highly recommend it. It even allows you to have amazing conversations with people like I’m about to do right now. But our greater mission with Rise25 is to make the world a smaller place by creating connections, helping to connect more individuals with other business owners and their ideal prospects and referral partners. They love to work with want to learn more, go to Rise25.com 

Alright, so as I mentioned, my guest is Matt pawhuska. And, Matt, you know, one of the first things that caught my eye when I was looking at your background was that you worked for CNET back in the mid 1990s. And I consider myself a really early reader of CNET. I started reading seen it definitely in the late 90s May I don’t think it was as early as you We’re around there. But But CNET is one of these venerable media properties that’s been around now for 25 years or so. And really a groundbreaker in terms of media content, creating content online. What was it like in the early days joining up with that operation? And did your family think oh, crazies going to work for this calm? It’s not going to be around for too long.

Matt Prohaska  3:22  

Yeah, I got a lot of that from family and friends, for sure. Thanks, john. And thanks for eyes 25 for having me. Um, so yeah, so see that was was founded in 94. So about 25 years ago today by a guy. one of the founders was a guy named palsy minor, a great a lengthy story and arc in his career and life as well. But a great visionary, who along with a lot of people from Ziff Davis, as a CNET reader, I’m sure you know, Ziff Davis was the Darth Vader evil empire compared to us. The little Luke Skywalker is that we’re fighting the good fight at the time. You know, they had PC Magazine and venerable print, and they’re probably Jeez, a third of their editorial team and a third of their sales team, including the head of sales who hired me when I was lucky enough to be 24 years old and starting their New York sales office in early 96. We were the first company to actually produce TV shows, and then actually drive people to online properties. So we did a lot of things that were unique and kind of crazy and online publishing, teaching marketers and ad agencies things like you know, you could actually track how many people actually saw your ad, or how many times your ad was actually shown, not just how many men 18 to 49, through a metered survey happened to fill out a diary on that month, and then saw your program but didn’t maybe see your ad. And then actually, we can show you dangerously how many people click on these things called banners, and 10 other companies kind of made up at the time. I was lucky to get a lot of take a lot of risk when at an early age and be young enough and cheap enough in the early days. of the web to be able to do some neat stuff. So yeah, CNET was was very, very cool. It was, it was my first pre IPO experience and going through that IPO in 90, and at the end of 96, and seeing the dynamics of a company change, when you suddenly have to, you know, be measured by quarterly standards, and by people outside your company, who maybe don’t know publishing as much, and maybe don’t know the the dynamics of online advertising, of course, but just, you know, what is your growth look like? And what did you do to this quarter kind of thing, so lot, a ton of learning experiences there. And it was amazing to be able to fly around the country. You know, as a 24 year old talking about this thing called, you know, we jokingly now call the interwebs today.

John Corcoran  5:39  

And, and it probably helped that you were young, that you didn’t have 20 years of experience in the industry and didn’t have a feeling of the way that things always have been because these were new standards. These were new strategies, new ways of doing business. Well, you remember what it was like trying to Land these these clients and explain to them the value of advertising online?

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