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Ad director Emily Jarrett '09 stands in front of windows and bookshelves

The ad director

You’re intrigued by a book advertised on Instagram, and you click through to learn more.

Emily Jarrett ’09 has done her job. As the associate director of paid media strategy for the Random House division of Penguin Random House, she strategizes how to advertise a book, identifying appropriate social media platforms and sometimes print, television, radio and podcast media to reach the targeted audience.

Six months or so before a book is due to reach bookstores, Jarrett begins planning where to advertise it based on, among other things, its genre, its author’s renown and its target audience.

“My job is to take that budget and make recommendations on where we should spend it, where we should be promoting it with digital marketing, with advertising,” she said. “That’s based on my research, reporting and analysis of previous digital marketing campaigns and how they’ve performed. … We’re always thinking about the end reader and customizing our plans to be able to reach them.”

The industry is “really keen on analyzing metrics, analyzing data, to make sure that our ads are doing what they’re supposed to do, which is to inform and find the right consumer,” she said. So while some books are still advertised in traditional media, most dollars go toward digital. 

After graduating from DePauw, Jarrett wanted to get into publishing so she moved in with relatives in Connecticut and took a publishing class in New York City. A classmate who worked in human resources for Sterling Publishing told her about an opening.

“When you want to get into publishing, you feel like you just get your foot in the door wherever you can,” she said. “And so it was an international sales assistant job for me.”

She worked her way up at several publishers, with detours at a streaming network and a digital marketing company, before landing at Penguin Random House in late 2020. She was on a team that executed much of the digital advertising before being promoted in December to the strategy position.

Her on-the-job training, she said, has prepared her to advertise virtually anything – she previously marketed baby wipes – but she is passionate about books.

“When you’re working in the publishing industry … you feel like it’s going to help people and help people connect with each other or help them to work through an issue they have or help them to make this beautiful meal for their families,” she said. “So I always feel good about the product I’m putting out there.” 

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