Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Joseph Lee, Media Activation Partner at Essence

Joseph Lee is Media Activation Partner at Essence. A programmatic specialist, creator of the Rommatic programmatic buying unit, and holder of a Master of Research in digital cultures and consumption, we asked him who his digital hero is.

Who is your digital hero?

My digital hero is Rob Smith, Growth Director at Incubeta.

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

My career has largely been enabled by Rob.

My career in digital advertising started with an interview from Rob (among others) and a position in the team parallel to his, while over many recent years he has helped pave the way for and guided my ambition to establish a leading regional programmatic trading desk, from which I’ve experienced the majority of my professional growth and success.

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

He is responsible for far more regional change than he would give himself credit for. His leadership has in part defined our regional industry’s acceleration on arguably the most successful programmatic team of the last decade outside of the M25.

He then went on to establish one of the most disruptive regional agencies in Manchester before successfully pitching for Incubeta DQ&A to further empower the businesses and people of the regions to extend their digital influence – a huge boost for the independents taking the fight to the networks.

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

Within digital advertising, far too frequently we treat sustainability and effectiveness as mutually exclusive to the detriment of our global resources and our planet’s health. Heroes are great but we need more than one or two, or a suite of new products & services.

We need collective change to become something different. Heroes of our planet are already collaborating with or working within our industry; some prolific, some unsung, some on solutions, some in education. Measuring effectiveness before carbon efficiency measurement is a start – far better than ignoring carbon emission and omitting measurement altogether – but we all need to start finding effectiveness from a foundation of sustainable media.

From the top to the bottom of every organisation, it will require cross-discipline collaboration, fearless experimentation and, hardest of all, perseverance through failure.

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

My time establishing a programmatic trading desk at Republic of Media is tangibly the most substantial achievement of my career so far, however I would genuinely prefer to assess myself against the professional relationships I forge, grow and nurture throughout my career.

Having only a few relationships with true depth and meaning is my idea of success, and the people in our industry are the reason why I love working in it so much. I have become friends with some incredible people beholding fascinating minds and personalities. These people have been guiding lights to, or dedicated followers of my journey (these people know who they are).

The pinnacle of my success – something I’ve always hoped to be and still strive towards – is simply to be the best colleague, employee, line manager or media partner someone could ask for. I promise it’s not something I seek validation on but I hope I can achieve it once or twice. Hence my “heroic personal achievement” is still a WIP.