Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Matt Simpson, EVP Chief Digital Operations Officer, Omnicom

Matt Simpson is EVP Chief Digital Operations Officer at Omnicom Media Group. He joined Omnicom in 2008 from Starcom where he was Head of Digital, and has held a number of senior roles across the group, including MD, Annalect and Joint CEO Investment, EMEA. He previously served as Chairman of The IPA’s Digital Media Group.

Who is your digital hero?

Scott Hagedorn – CEO Omnicom Media Group, North America.

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

In 2010 Scott founded Annalect and in doing so bought together a digital, data and technology service offering that would become the enabler to transform an entire holding group.  Scott fundamentally changed the perception of digital, both within OMG and also within client organisations. 

He was the first person I was aware of, not only talking about mass personalisation in media, but creating the scaled infrastructure to deliver it.  The legacy he created as founder & CEO of Annalect back in 2010 is still delivering in 2020, not only for OMG for Omnicom as a whole. 

Other competitors came later to the same space and have since fallen by the way side; he had a profound effect on my understanding of what was possible.  I was lucky enough to work for Scott in the early years of Annalect and the fact that he delivered all this with humility made him an even bigger hero in my eyes.

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

He saw a future where media agencies would be fundamentally powered by data and technology executing predominantly through digital channels. 

Whilst many would claim the same, arguably no others have delivered on it so spectacularly, taking that vision and drive to create Hearts & Science, an agency built exactly in this mould, and winning $5bn worth of accounts in its first 12 months of existence.

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

Transforming consumer interest and understanding of their personal data.  We have managed to develop a society that is at best ambivalent to the data they generate and how it’s used and at worst petrified that everyone is either looking to profit from or misuse it.  

I am sure we all have family and friends whose only understanding of their data is via negative news stories around hacking, GDPR fines or consumer watchdog programs investigating ‘what advertisers know about you’. 

So far we haven’t solved this one and no one company is likely to, this is one for the industry as a whole to rally behind.

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

My time chairing the IPA’s Digital Media Group was incredibly rewarding. 

Establishing the Media Owner Awards (MOAs) in 2011 was a particular highlight, it felt like a timely rebalancing of the agency/media owner relationship with agencies recognising the fantastic contribution made by their counterparts.