Rebels, Misfits & Innovators: 50Over50: Guy Phillipson, Chairman Elect, JICWEBS, former CEO of the IAB UK

We think it’s time to recognise and celebrate the true talent in our industry, the creatives, technologists, founders and leaders that are really driving our industry and shaping society, who just happen to be over 50.

Guy Phillipson led the IAB to become a hugely effective force for good, helping to guide the growth of the online ad industry to the behemoth it is today. Currently at JICWEBS, he continues in his mission to steer the industry in the right direction.

What is the biggest mistake companies are making in their attitude to age today?

I’m a classic baby boomer. Born in 1960, I experienced an explosion of arts, technology and the communications revolution – and worked in media from the days when we had only two commercial TV channels, right through to TikTok.

Some employers don’t grasp the vast benefits of hiring experience like that, or appreciate how we can help develop and mentor young execs.

(And anyway, 59 is the new 38, right?).

What one thing are you proudest of in your career?

Building the Internet Advertising Bureau to become a leading media trade body and presiding over an industry which grew from £800m revenue to £10bn over 12 years.

What creative heights are you now capable of that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve at the early or mid-point of your career?

Being at the helm of an organisation, I got to understand how every communication discipline could add value to the ruthlessly single-minded message.  

More importantly, I can empower everybody involved to work towards the same goal and succeed together.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today?

Undoubtedly, giving business guidance to young entrepreneurs and watching their enterprises grow. (Especially if I’ve invested in their business!).

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?

Don’t be afraid to take tough decisions, but be pleasant to everybody along the way.

The industry is one big merry-go-round, and you’ll always bump into the same people on your way round.

What advice would you give your 25-year old self?

I was 25 in 1985 working in retail marketing. I would counsel moving jobs more often to move faster through the ranks. But that wasn’t the culture in those days.

What are you most excited about in your industry over the next 10 years?

We’re still in the foothills of what’s possible with AI, machine learning, and personalisation. I’m looking forward to the fruits of our super-bright UK innovators as they develop and launch astonishing new applications and experiences.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today?

The proliferation of hate speech, misinformation, and material which is totally unsafe for children, plagues our medium today.

So the UK Government Online Harms White Paper has to be welcomed – however long it takes to implement. 

However, to minimise the misplacement of brand advertising on inappropriate sites we already have the world-leading JICWEBS Standards against which some 120 companies are certified in the UK.

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