Tahoe media company celebrating 20 years in business
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — If you can think back to what was happening in 1994, TIME magazine did a cover story on the “next big thing in technology” — the Internet. That same year, Wendy Hummer launched EXL Media in Incline Village.
Along with traditional print, broadcast, and out-of-home advertising, EXL Media started buying Internet advertising in 1996 and still remains on the forefront of media and technology trends.
This December, Hummer and her EXL Media team are celebrating their 20-year anniversary of providing cost-effective media campaigns to local, national and global clients, such as VOYA (ING), Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Elsevier.
Hummer first became interested in advertising because of “Bewitched,” the TV show that ran in the 70s.
“As a kid, Bewitched introduced me to the world of advertising through Darrin’s job as an ad exec, yet Samantha (his wife, a witch) always had creative solutions. I wanted to be like her. I have always considered myself an explorer rather than a follower,” said Hummer.
Hummer attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she graduated with a double degree majoring in Advertising and Marketing. While at UC Boulder, Hummer’s love of market research and analytics grew when she started a business conducting student research for a group of restaurants/bars to see how to attract students outside of price deals.
After graduating, Hummer was hired by the McCann Erickson advertising agency in San Francisco where she worked as a media buyer for four years working on accounts such as Coca Cola, Tri-Star and Nestle.
In ‘92, she decided to live where she loved to play and moved to Lake Tahoe. Like a typical Lake Tahoe local, she held several different jobs, including with KRLT radio in South Shore and with agencies in Reno. In ‘94 she started EXL Media. She opened her business with her first clients, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, The North Lake Tahoe Chamber and the Truckee Home Show.
In 1996, EXL Media was one of the first agencies at Lake Tahoe to buy Internet advertising. The first account was Visitinglaketahoe.com, a co-op created and managed with a partner agency Smith & Jones. The co-op is composed of the three visitors’ bureaus around Lake Tahoe and it is still active today.
“We started buying banners against the phrase ‘Lake Tahoe’ on all the search engines such as Infoseek, Altavista, Yahoo, Lycos and Excite, adding Google and other current search engines, since,” Hummer said.
During the dot.com boom starting in ‘99 through the early 2000s, EXL Media’s experience with Internet buying as well as traditional media buying helped the business soar with accounts such as Intuit, Onebox.com, Viking Freight, EVEO.com and Vacationcoach.com. Because media success is closely tied to the economy, Hummer knows that there will be peaks and valleys and plans for them.
EXL Media is currently a team of 10 media professionals, including seasoned broadcast, print, digital, out of home, and specialty media buyers. Most of the staff has worked at EXL Media for over 10 years and four of them for more than 15 years.
While recognizing that digital advertising is a huge trend, Hummer advises that digital advertising can’t stand alone. She believes that advertising in traditional media is still necessary to create a broad reach and brand awareness, noting for example that print advertising is the most believable and that television continues to be the highest reach medium available.
Jill Schlesinger, senior business analyst for CBS, reflected Hummer’s opinion on National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” program in November 2014:” While people are pouring millions into digital advertising, traditional media still continues to be very powerful and can have more lasting effects.”
Visit exlmedia.com to learn more about EXL Media, located at 803 Tahoe Blvd. in Incline Village.