My Digital Hero: Hossein Houssaini

We’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them.

Hossein Houssaini recently departed his role as Global Head of Programmatic Solutions at Havas Group to build the Ho/Pe Advisory to help companies understand the digital data-driven marketing landscape better by simplifying complex subjects to ease decision making.

He has been in the digital industry for over 15 years, working at companies including Havas, IPG Mediabrands and Google.

Who is your digital hero?

Throughout my career there, I have met many digital heroes. To name some:

  1. Alain Sanjaume, who advises today as an A.I. & data-driven advertising Expert
  2. Sebastian Robin, MD, SpotX France
  3. Siamac Alexander Rahnavard, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of programmatic marketing agency Echte Liebe
  4. My oldest industry friend Ajay Daved, who runs his consultancy today
  5. And all the digital entrepreneurs I have met in the past years who decided to leave their secure jobs to build something they believe in.

My biggest heroes are though my little kids who remind and teach me every day that the perception of media has changed and that the way we communicate with the new generations digitally still is not there where it should be.

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

Alain was the first mover on search targeting, Audience Targeting and DMPs in EMEA.

Ajay established RTB/ Programmatic in Europe for the buy/sell side for Appnexus as the first man on the ground.

Sebastian shaped the French/global programmatic landscape as the Co-Founder of Affiperf.

Siamac pioneered Programmatic in DACH and created his successful programmatic marketing agency after realising that what the market needs is a specialised independent partner.

Aside from their success, these guys are good people who do what they believe in and are always willing to help.

What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

Well, where shall I start? We are in the middle of an industry transformation, and there is no guide book. Looking at digital beyond advertising, we have missed a smooth change into the new world.

As an example, just because you activate media investments digitally, this does not mean that your process is digital and optimised, which is also essential. So, we still have a lot to prepare in terms of digital transformation, and the speed we at which we move forward is not really beneficial.

Transforming means investment and needs decision makers that have the spirit of change and that are willing to take risks to build a new culture that not only improves processes and re-/invents new jobs but attracts new generations as well to join and believe in that converted organisation and its vision.

Another challenge in digital is that we need to remind ourselves of the purpose of advertising.

How do we make people care again? We are still in advertising and need to create meaningful moments for consumers, rather than viewing digital marketing as just a technical process that is fed with data and learns through AI.

The most significant challenge we have though is that we don’t trust each other anymore, caused by creating a complex ecosystem on top of a simple idea, rather than being solutions-driven to benefit the consumer or the brand.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

I think “heroic” is a strong word. From my view, I just did what I thought was right, and I still do that.

I re-established the Rich Media Business for Google for DACH & the Nordics, from zero to hero, and helped to create a local feature called “Multi-Float” which was a market need at that time and then later was rolled out globally.

Then I helped RTB and Programmatic to establish in DACH and co-founded an educational platform that today has trained over 20,000 people globally in programmatic as part of their personal development plan to understand the core basics of digital.

That kickstart program has motivated many people in the network to use the platform, creating new online training courses with over 400 educational programs globally in different languages today.

Finally, I believe my most significant achievement is that I always try to simplify any digital subject to convince people that advertising is not only about data and automation but that the human being is still the artist, composer or conductor and the most crucial asset in the whole advertising ecosystem.

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