My Digital Hero: Steven Filler, MD, Union Media

Steven Filler, MD of Union Media, has spent the last two decades working at a veritable who’s who of our leading digital media companies. From AOL to Unruly, Collective to Telegraph Media Group, he’s seen and done it all in digital media.

Who is your digital hero?

Steve Wing Rubicon Project

What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?

Steve Wing became my first boss in digital when I joined The Guardian or should I say Guardian Unlimited as it was back at the start of the millennium! 

So he obviously wins bonus points for being one of the first people to rise to the challenge of helping a traditional publisher transition from print to digital. However, it’s not just his early adopting ways that have led me to choose Steve. 

It wasn’t even the landmark moment when Steve managed to persuade editorial to let us swap the 8 stacked 128x64s on the homepage of the Guardian in favour of the new high impact skyscraper format! 

Actually the main reason for my selection is that Steve has managed to build such a very successful career and reputation whilst also being a genuinely great guy.  I’ve never met anyone with a bad word to say about Steve and I think that says a lot for his values and his value to our industry.

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

Steve was part of a very impressive team of commercial and editorial pioneers (Simon Waldman, Lloyd Shepherd, Emily Bell etc) that launched The Guardian’s digital credentials and really set the bar for the rest of the market to try to reach.

But his true act heroism has been his unwavering dedication to building his vast collection of Adidas trainers!

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

The current global health challenge that we all facing really highlights the ongoing need to support the genuine premium publishers in all countries who can help guide, advise and entertain people in their moments of need. 

We can’t trust social media to give us the truth so I think it’s essential that advertisers increase their support these publishers and shift their budgets accordingly.

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

Well I wouldn’t go as far as heroic but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of launching and growing a number of digital businesses since I left the Guardian in 2006, taking them from very early stage to significant commercial entities and getting to work with some great people along the way. 

Certainly not heroic but I’ve definitely never taken the easy option which also explains the grey hairs!

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