Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Chris Appleton, Head of Programmatic+ at PHD

Chris Appleton is Head of Programmatic+ at PHD, having previously held digital roles at Maxus & Initiative. We asked who his digital hero is.

Who is your digital hero?

I would have to nominate my colleague Sunni Phillips who is Media Experience Business Director at PHD.

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

Someone at PHD recently described Sunni as a ‘Force of Nature’ and I think this is a fitting description.

Aside from a relentless work ethic, Sunni has a personable and curious nature which has enabled her to both mobilise teams and clients and push programmatic in the right direction with a continued to desire to make things better.

Any task or challenge that Sunni is set, she approaches with vigour. Her digital experience means she leaves no stone unturned, and she has been an incredible asset at PHD.

How has her heroism helped drive digital?

Sunni has been pivotal at delivering digital excellence across a suite of blue-chip accounts for the past 8 years. In that time, she has overseen large-scale digital projects around brand safety, the adoption and subsequent scaling of programmatic (ensuring DCO is at the heart of everything we do) and most recently has been further enhancing our performance capabilities.

Her output has ensured her accounts are some of the most programmatically advanced in the agency which has resulted in both award wins and continued praise from clients and stakeholders. This has also led to Sunni recently expanding her remit beyond Programmatic, delivering cross-channel digital transformation for clients.

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

Fixing the complexity of Programmatic that the industry has created.

There is an intricate ecosystem due to the sheer number of stakeholders and intermediaries that play a part in delivering a campaign – this has resulted in a lack of transparency in some cases and a lot of scrutiny on Programmatic as a buying route.

A strive to be more sustainable should address this in time but agencies and clients can begin to make an impact now by optimising their supply chains and collaborating closely with their respective technology partners to address these complexities, whilst still maintaining performance.

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

I wouldn’t call it heroic but working at PHD for most of my media career has enabled me to work with and nurture some incredible talent who have gone on to achieve great things in the industry.

Building (and rebuilding) teams that have contributed to industry award wins, winning (and retaining) business, delivering brilliant day-to-day work with so many talented people and making a few friends on the way has been a real pleasure.