Hook Media Gets Serious About the Southeast

Hook Media has accelerated its march into the Southeast.

The Boston-based digital media management and data analysis company has hired Mary Ellen Barto as managing principal and Caroline Ernst as principal at its recently opened Atlanta office.

“Our plan was to throw up a big billboard, get some buzz and set up vendor relationships,” said Dan Epperson, Hook Media’s founder and president. “Before we go to market in a big way, we want the systems and talent in place.”

Founded in 1998, the company specializes in interactive media planning, placement, tracking, reporting and optimization for clients that include BlueCross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts and New York’s PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Hook plans to use Atlanta as a pathway into the client-rich, yet still under-served Southeast market.

“[Barto and Ernst] form a powerful team with years of experience in client service, organizational development and interactive media,” said Epperson.

Barto, a 13-year Ogilvy & Mather veteran, headed media services at that Atlanta shop before moving to Hook Media.

“Hook Media was the next logical step in my career building,” said Barto. It defines digital mediamanagement.”

Ernst was a director at the Family Education Network in San Francisco, where she managed interactive campaigns, oversaw customer acquisition and retention programs and built brand awareness. Earlier in her career, she supervised a $7 million online ad campaign for eight education-related Web sites.

“Hook demonstrates how interactivity through multiple technologies will change how consumers interact with marketers and how this interaction will benefit their business,” said Ernst.

Barry Lowenthal, who opened Hook’s Atlanta location in July, has been charged with laying the groundwork for future expansion.