Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Matt Champion

Matt Champion is VP Client Development & Success at Audience Store. He is a true digital veteran with over two-decades in the industry. A pioneer of mobile marketing, he launched his first mobile campaign in 2002 while at Mediacom, with roles prior to Audience Store including Fetch and Amobee.

Who is your digital hero? 

Greg Grimmer, CEO Mediatel.

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

As a leader he’s managed to get it done with a smile on his face. He’s applied drive and knowledge to shift from offline to online to mobile to omnichannel, but where his key strength is dealing with people.

The man is loquacious and a maven and if you have the chance to have lunch with him on a Friday afternoon it can take ten minutes to reach your table as he greets everyone he knows. One key attribute though is his fairness and integrity in developing people into one team behind a bigger goal when otherwise specialist/departmental bias can get in the way. 

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

He’s good at keeping an eye on the horizon for the exciting and interesting, but more focused on how to deliver that in a way that benefits clients, agencies avoiding the pitfalls along the way.

So, in the early days of ZED, when the wider industry was knee-deep in overpromising and under-delivering he generated incredible growth whilst keeping the network happy on the numbers and the clients happy with the results. 

He took this further by striking out to create the agile HMDG agency and selling this 5 years on. As COO at Fetch he had a steady hand on the tiller, moving Fetch from mobile-only to mobile-first, opening offices around the globe, securing great talent and ultimately creating a successful sale to Dentsu.

He’ll take ideas from anywhere in the room, but you know if he says,’ Yeah, I wouldn’t do that,’ he’s probably seen it happen before. As CEO of Mediatel he is able to have that helicopter view, because he’s seen how everything fits together, how the channels work, what they are good at and what they’re not.

Throughout his digital career he’s knocked down the silos of specialism to create a holistic view of any debate you fancy having a view on. Ask him about in/out/right housing for a start…

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

We need to accept that digital has its faults for which knee-jerk responses aren’t helpful. 

We spent 15+ years telling advertisers that we can track everything and attributing sales aggressively and then being surprised when the data is wrong; the downloads are fraudulent; engagement is low etc. 

We are now faced with a world where the actions of a social media company can influence societal change or civil unrest; where generations are addicted to digital dopamine rushes – and this is with the consumer-focused protections of GDPR and broader understanding of the value of (your) data. Sprinkle in a little pandemic, a dash of cookie and IDFA deprecation and you have a fairly potent cauldron to taste.

Consumers still want magic (Uber, Amazon Prime); Clients still want (accurate) results; Agencies & Publishers still want their fair share.

Also, I was rather hoping that blockchain would influence transparency in the buyer/seller relationship. No. 

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

At Fetch we started as a bunch of kids (me excluded) learning and doing a great job in mobile advertising. The best moment remains when I pitched for eBay mobile in five markets and the client wanted a follow up call with the team on Friday afternoon.

At that time, we were hosting a sports day with our media partners in a London park and so when the call came in, we flagged down a black cab (remember those?) and did the call. We were told to leave it with them.

The afternoon continued. At about 5pm my phone rang. ‘We wanted you to enjoy your weekend, so congratulations we are awarding you the contract.’ The boss was watching a wheel-barrow race at the time so I gently dragged him out of the crowd to get his attention and whispered the good news.

He actually jumped in the air. That moment probably won’t be bettered…