This Digital Ad Format Guru Lives and Breathes Outside the Box

Verve's Walter Geer holds six patents

Geer creates and delivers 'high-impact ad formats' to companies. Matthew Rodriguez
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Sport-bike racer, six-patent holder, biometric lab creator—these are just a few of Walter Geer’s self-earned epithets. But his actual title is vp and creative director at Verve, where he creates and delivers “high-impact ad formats” to companies.

Geer graduated college in 1999 with a completely different career trajectory: He started in web design. Additionally, as a licensed amateur sport-bike racer, Geer applied his daredevil skills to his career.

“Focusing within stressful environments like racing and learning how to make key decisions has taught me a lot about how to work in my day-to-day job,” he said. “Make a decision, stick with it and hope for the best outcome, but never hesitate.”

No matter your industry, noted Geer, the key is to chase your interests. That’s how he ended up working on flash and ad products at JPMorgan Chase before honing in on advertising to execute ad solutions for companies like The New York Times, Google and MTV. Part of the reason he was able to carve this unique path is because “there were some folks” at these companies that “took a chance” with these unique ad formats—and it paid off.

For example, during his time at MTV, he developed the first biometrics lab to track how people responded to ads by measuring their heart rate, pupil dilation and facial expressions. “When we did this, it allowed us essentially to go to market with the perfect ad,” Geer said. Geer then moved on to Myspace, where he helped the social platform’s ad formats go from generating thousands of dollars a day to millions.

More recently, Geer used Google Street View to create a mobile-based ad promoting the fourth season of Netflix’s sci-fi series Black Mirror. The ad identifies a user’s location and displays a Street View image of where they are, playing into the moral questions Black Mirror raises surrounding technology and its place in society. If it strikes a bit of fear in the hearts of users, that’s exactly the point.

Curriculum Vitae

Vp, creative director, Verve 2015-present

Vp, product strategy, mobile and display, PointRoll (Gannett) 2013-2015

Vp, ad products and technology, Onswipe 2012-2013

Vp, product development, Myspace, Specific Media 2010-2012

Director, production design, MTV Networks 2008-2010

Job Profile

Geer is Verve’s vp, creative director, where he creates mobile ad experiences that change how consumers interact with brands and ads.

How He Got the Gig

Verve’s former CEO, Nada Stirratt, knew Geer from their time together at Myspace and Viacom. Stirratt introduced Geer to Verve’s CMO, Julie Bernard, and “it’s been magic ever since,” Geer said.

Pro Tip

“The second you decide to take your foot off the pedal, you lose,” Geer advised. “In order to stay ahead of the pack, it’s critical that you’re focusing and making decisions as quickly as possible.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 19, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.