Chris Childs is UK Managing Director at TabMo.
His 16-year career has embraced the advertising industry’s seismic shift to digital and programmatic. After a five-year stint at ITV – as on-demand video was emerging – he joined Brightroll at the time of its launch into Europe; following Yahoo’s purchase of the video ad-buying platform in 2014 he took the helm at TabMo, overseeing its UK launch.
Who is your digital hero?
Leon Siotis, president of EMEA at SpotX – he has been at the forefront of too many digital trends for it to be a matter of coincidence and good timing!
We met in 2011 as part of the five-person team that launched video ad demand side platform (DSP) Brightroll in Europe. While we all had our own specialisms, programmatic was new and not part of our daily vocabulary. Leon brought programmatic experience and an understanding of advertising technology that helped to shape the team – which, in view of the traditional advertising backgrounds that most of us had, can’t have been an easy task… But under his guidance, we survived many challenges, while it was his expertise that positioned us as a leading programmatic platform for video advertising in the UK and Europe.
The five years at Brightroll saw us share some memorable times; I’m glad to say that Leon and I have remained friends – and he is still one of my ‘go-to’s’ for industry advice and reassurance.
What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?
Leon’s digital foresight goes way back. He spent two years at the era-defining MySpace early on in its history; with the exception of the more basic Friends Reunited, this was the first social network of any note and it paved the way for everything we now take for granted.
At the Rubicon Project (now Magnite following the merger with Telaria in 2020), Leon’s work on the demand side helped advertisers and agencies understand the importance of technology in media trading. This was the time of the first real-time bidding (RTB) auctions, which were the building blocks of programmatic.
Brightroll followed, after which, shrewd as ever, Leon moved to the supply side to SpotX where he’s evolved both its technology and market share, making sure the company leads the way in addressable and connected television.
Each of Leon’s roles has been with a company that has played a pivotal part in shaping the industry as we know it today. He’s been at the vanguard on each occasion and I’m fascinated to see what he does next.
How has his heroism helped drive digital?
Leon’s technical know-how is combined with an ability to explain why it’s important to people with less insight. This is to the advantage of the team he’s working with – but also the wider industry.
In building the reputation of SpotX for example, he has helped to open broadcasters’ traditionally unyielding doors (winning the ITV contract in 2017) and given digital TV media trading a place at the table. Ads are now programmatically served and it’s one of the most talked-about areas of the market. As more and more content is made available via connected devices, and audiences increasingly watch television and other video content via an internet connection, advertisers wanting to connect with those audiences are presented with new opportunities and new challenges.
Leon’s team at SpotX has done much of the legwork in this field.
What are the biggest challenges in media we need another hero to solve?
We’re going through a highly significant period of change at the moment, particularly in terms of consumer protection and privacy. GDPR is now in full flow and the much-anticipated death of the third party cookie is predicted to happen in the next year or so; it will be interesting to see how a number of businesses emerge from these ‘shocks’. What these changes do however is place more emphasis on universal ID solutions, contextual targeting and publisher first party data. Anything that helps publishers realise the true value of their own data is a positive; this will be aided by advertising technology across all channels continuing its leading role, but content will remain centre stage so it’s also crucial that producers and publishers see their fair share of advertising revenue from the material they produce.
Separately, the media industry as a whole needs to become more accountable. There is no excuse for kids having access to unsuitable digital content, or people predominantly seeing news and views that reinforce their own opinions (right or wrong), with no checks and balances. This is a huge topic, but we have to take responsibility for driving change.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
It doesn’t warrant hero-status, but I’m proud of using the knowledge I’ve accrued to date in each role I’ve had, and then trying to keep up as the industry gallops ahead! I count myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to put together and expand a team of people that continually impress me with their commitment, attitude and ability to learn; not only that, but I learn from them, which is hugely valuable and makes my role even more rewarding.
I’m also proud of where our business is now and the ambitions we have for the next 12, 18 and 24 months and beyond. Keeping up to speed with – and preferably ahead of – the latest digital trends and opportunities is the key to succeeding in this market, and is driven by the various teams within each of our offices. It may sound cheesy but it’s absolutely true to say they’re all digital heroes!