Nothing about Tom Hyland is as it appears. At 52, the chairman of Coopers & Lybrand's new media group is a fixture at many of Gotham's new media shindigs. He hasn't missed the U.S. Open in four years-the snowboarding event, that is. Having spent a number of years working with sports and music clients, he confesses to a fondness for Vermont hippy rockers, Phish. And he's proud that his three teenaged children come to him to learn what's cool on the Internet.
Still, in an industry filled with relentless spotlight-seekers, Hyland prefers to be the man behind the scenes.
That is starting to change in new media circles. With the company's move into Internet auditing, Hyland and Coopers have become top-of-mind for a number of new media companies and traditional advertisers looking for credible online yardsticks.
Coopers' first online assignment came last year from the Internet Advertising Bureau, for which it compiles a closely watched quarterly ad spending figure. Because the IAB survey, which just released the figure for the second quarter last week, asks publishers to quantify their ad revenue on an anonymous basis, it is widely considered to be the most accurate barometer of online ad spending.
And, with a recent assignment from Microsoft, for which it will audit ad delivery, Coopers has begun its effort to extend 99 years' worth of number-crunching to online companies. Coopers signs off on online publishers' claims that they are delivering banner ads as promised and are in fact attracting the numbers of visitors they say they are. "In terms of the credibility of the medium, I think we have a lot to contribute," Hyland says.
But Coopers' role goes beyond those services. For every bumper crop of new media companies, there are a number of entrepreneurs who need assistance with basic business skills such as organizing payroll. "They're all very intelligent people to be working with, but most of them haven't been on the planet as long as I've been with the firm," Hyland deadpans.
If the online world presents a new challenge to Hyland after nearly 30 years, he feels that his history of working with clients in high-profile industries suits him for the task. "Maybe that goes back to my music roots . . . I find [new media executives] extremely interesting," he says.