Awards & Press

Ovative Named #9 and a Top 5 DE&I Company On Star Tribune’s 2021 Top 175 Workplaces

Minneapolis, MN June 17, 2021—Ovative Group has been named #9 and one of the Top 5 for DE&I of the Top 175 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune. This is Ovative’s 6th time on the list, this year for the first time in the mid-sized company category.

Ovative’s Commitment to Team and Culture. In the last 12 months, Ovative has doubled in team size, increasing the importance of the organization sharing and demonstrating our core values of being genuine, engaged, driven, and accountable. Over the past 5 years, with an even greater focus in the past 18 months, we have focused on creating an inclusive environment that welcomes and attracts diverse talent. We believe these efforts are a core part of who we are and what our team expects from us and is a key driver of our results. We know there is more work to be done, as such, we have reorientated our Talent Services team to best activate on the elevation of inclusivity in all of our efforts by creating two new teams: Diversity & Acquisition (to acquire top talent) and Inclusion & Development (to retain and develop). Both teams will work to bring broader accountability to the organization and elevate inclusivity.

Erin Aberg, Senior Director of Inclusion and Development at Ovative said, “9. We ranked number 9 out of the top 175 workplaces in Minnesota. After a year like 2020, where we were all stretched to new expectations and new normal (including a 100%+ growth in our total team size), we know these results validate what we’ve long-since believed – always prioritize people. Throughout 2020, we listened to our team, we thought about our clients, and we identified meaningful ways to stay connected and support one another through an “unprecedented time” (anyone else done with this phrase?!). We are humbled to be identified as a top organization with regards to our DE&I efforts. Creating an inclusive environment that attracts and retains diverse talent is another priority that we believe in throughout the organization and through listening to the team and their desire to take action, we’ve established an initiative that provides multiple avenues to act – Champions of Change. Through our efforts of creating an inclusive environment, we continue to attract more diverse talent – we’re now 52% female and 16% BIPOC. We know there is much more to do, but we’re committed to this change and committed to listening to our team to help us get there.

Explosive Growth During the Pandemic! In addition to adding over 100 new team members, since early 2020 Ovative has signed 25 new clients across its integrated media, measurement and consulting services.

Dale Nitschke, CEO, said the pandemic pushed many reluctant senior leaders to step up their digital efforts. “Our behavior has changed, which made more companies realize they need to consider digital in a way they haven’t before.”

About the Awards. A complete list of those selected is available at StarTribune.com/topworkplaces2021 and will also be published in the Star Tribune Top Workplaces special section on Sunday, June 20. Read the full article on the Top 5 companies for diversity and inclusion https://www.startribune.com/top-workplaces-are-learning-to-walk-the-walk-on-diversity/600068928/?refresh=true. Produced by the same team that compiles the 30-year-old Star Tribune 100 report of the best-performing public companies in Minnesota, Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions measuring engagement, organizational health and satisfaction. The analysis included responses from over 76,000 employees at Minnesota public, private and nonprofit organizations. The rankings in the Star Tribune Top 175 Workplaces are based on survey information collected by Energage, an independent company specializing in employee engagement and retention. To qualify for the Star Tribune Top Workplaces, a company must have more than 50 employees in Minnesota. Nearly 3,000 companies were invited to participate. Rankings were composite scores calculated purely on the basis of employee responses.

Star Tribune Publisher Michael J. Klingensmith said, “The companies in the Star Tribune Top 175 Workplaces deserve high praise for creating the very best work environments in the state of Minnesota. My congratulations to each of these exceptional companies.”

Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. Connect with us to learn more! 


Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke

CEO & Founder

About the Author

Dale is the Founder and CEO of Ovative. After years of operating a large omni-channel business and leading a customer data initiative, Dale knew there was an opportunity to create a marketing firm that helped clients become more customer centric and drove better performance outcomes. A gap existed between business consultancies and advertising agencies that modern marketing approaches demand. He also believed that a strong, healthy culture could attract and develop smart, talented team members. In 2009, he formed Ovative to bring media, measurement, and consulting together under one roof to enable an enterprise approach that drives more revenue and grows clients’ customer base.

Prior to founding Ovative in 2009, Dale spent 23 years at Target Corporation where he served as President of Target.com and grew the ecommerce business from start-up stage to a $1 billion+ business and established the foundation of Target’s Guest database capabilities. Previously he served as SVP Merchandising at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. Dale has advised retailers and brands globally on business, growth, marketing, and measurement transformation strategies.

Outside of Ovative, Dale is a leader on topics including business strategy, change management, and team leadership. He serves on the board of Allergy Amulet and on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison.  He enjoys spending time with his family, up north in northern Wisconsin, playing golf, and cheering on Wisconsin sport teams.

Steve Benson

Steve Benson

Chief Financial Officer

About the Author

Steve is the Chief Financial Officer of Ovative. Steve is responsible for the company’s IT, corporate accounting, treasury, tax, financial planning and analysis, and Business Operations

Prior to joining Ovative, Steve provided finance and accounting advisory services to clients. Before that, he spent 23 years at Target Corporation, leading Finance and Accounting teams.

Steve enjoys distance running, woodworking, and traveling. Steve and his wife have two sons, and they enjoy escaping to the Minnesota north shore.

Annie Zipfel

Executive Vice President, Media

About the Author

Annie is the Executive Vice President of Media at Ovative. She oversees delivery and growth across paid and owned media (digital, traditional, and retail media) and creative services.

Annie has more than 30 years of experience in media, brand management, insights/analytics, marketing, and product. She has also developed large, high-performing teams and built new measurement capabilities. Annie led the marketing team at Andersen Windows & Doors, leading the digital, social, content, customer insights, and creative functions. Prior to that, Annie served in multiple marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, REI, Target, and General Mills, with a keen focus on brand, media, insights, analytics, and measurement.

Annie is an industry leader in brand management, customer insights, e-commerce, social media, and analytics. She enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, fishing, and spending time with her sweet dog and two sons.

Bonnie Gross

Executive Vice President, Talent Services

About the Author

Bonnie is the Executive Vice President of Talent Services at Ovative. She is responsible for attracting and retaining top talent and creating a culture in which our team thrives personally and professionally. Under Bonnie’s leadership, Ovative has defined an industry leading leadership and development program and transformed our approach to talent recruitment with a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Bonnie led Ovative’s Client and Business Development team overseeing client satisfaction and new growth opportunities.

Before joining Ovative in 2014, Bonnie spent 13 years at Target Corporate as the VP of digital and Digital Marketing where she led the launch of Cartwheel, an industry-leading social shopping application. Bonnie was the VP of Marketing for Fingerhut for 15 years prior to joining Target.

Steve Baxter

Steve Baxter

Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

About the Author

Steve is the Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Ovative. Steve has been with the company since 2010 and launched Ovative’s media practice in 2012.

Prior to joining Ovative, Steve worked at Target for 8 years where he led development of Target’s CRM initiatives, Digital media analytics and Target’s Media Network. In 2005, Steve developed Target’s proprietary in-house capabilities to both measure in-store sales impact from digital brand investments and personalize marketing messages across both digital and non-digital channels.

Steve is an industry leader on topics including marketing, advanced measurement, ecommerce, and monetization. Steve enjoys fishing, camping, golfing and trying to stay competitive in any sport with his three boys. Steve enjoys escaping to the MN north shore with his wife, boys and dog whenever possible.

Beth McKigney

Senior Vice President, Measurement

About the Author

Beth is the Senior Vice President of Measurement at Ovative. She is responsible for developing, implementing, and supporting proprietary technology products that enable clients to unlock insights across marketing channels and devices. Since joining Ovative in 2013, Beth built Ovative’s Site Analytics & Optimization practice and Ovative’s unified marketing measurement tool, MAP. She is spearheading development of new technology products focused on advanced analytics, testing and reporting.

Prior to joining Ovative, Beth spent 9 years at Target in multiple digital and marketing analytics roles. She defined and delivered Target’s email and mobile marketing strategies, identified and defined Target.com guest-facing technology enhancements, and managed site-wide promotional marketing plans.

Beth is a thought leader in advanced analytics and optimization strategies. She regularly advises clients on strategies to improve their marketing effectiveness and is a published thought leader. She lives in Brooklyn Park with her husband, two boys and dog, Sota.  Beth’s an avid University of Minnesota sports fan (especially football – Row the Boat!) and enjoys downhill skiing, biking, hunting and fishing.

Lindsy Steinberger

Sr. Manager, Paid Search

About the Author

Lindsy is a Sr. Manager on the Paid Search team at Ovative.

Tyler Spiwak

Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Tyler is an Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Dianne Anderson

Senior Vice President, Media

About the Author

Dianne is the Senior Vice President of Media at Ovative. She is responsible for delivery and growth across paid digital media, traditional media, marketplaces, and creative services. Since joining the company in 2013, Dianne has been a key leader in establishing new channel practices, a strategic voice in media and marketing strategy and a driver scaling best in class teams. She regularly advises clients on ecommerce, retail, digital media and measurement strategies.

Prior to joining Ovative, Dianne spent 8 years at Target leading strategy and activation of digital e-comm and brand marketing initiatives.

Dianne is passionate about music, leading ukulele lessons for the team and participating in office musical collaborations.  Her happy places are Northern Wisconsin, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she enjoys making memories with her family.

Lillian Smith

Senior Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Lillian is a Senior Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

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