Mike Follett is one of the founders of Lumen. He started his career in advertising, working for DDB in London, New York and Mumbai. In 2013, he founded Lumen, which uses eye tracking technology to create predictive models of attention used in planning, reporting and buying digital media. We asked who his digital hero is.
Who is your digital hero?
Amy Williams of GoodLoop.
What has she they done to win hero status in your eyes?
Amy, and her whole team at GoodLoop, really put their money where their mouth is. Lots of people talk a good game of doing well by doing good, but GoodLoop actually deliver. Their basic product, which provides high attention formats on reputable sites, creates enormous value for both brands and publishers.
The fact that they also make donations to charities from the sale of each ad unit is just brilliant, ethical icing on the cake. But I think it’s their new carbon offsetting product that will really change the world: a commercially sustainable response to the challenge of sustainability.
How has her heroism helped drive digital?
When you work in digital advertising you can sometimes think that we are not implicated in the climate crisis: no trees were harmed in the making of this animated gif, etc. But we forget about the astonishing amount of energy expended in transporting all those bits of information from servers to phones around the world. Amy has provided us with a tool for measuring this impact – and acting on this knowledge.
What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
Delivering ads to (real) people – even delivering ads in a sustainable fashion – is all very good, but the real issue is this: is anyone looking?
The next challenge we will have to understand the reality of attention to the ads we make, and buy and trade. And if we could link this to Amy’s insight, so much the better. Perhaps we go from an economy of attention to an ecology of attention?
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
I don’t think I have ever done anything notably heroic. The pandemic has reminded us that there are real-life heroes out there, and few people in ad tech deserve the moniker (apart from Amy!).
But I have been bloody-minded, if that counts. Lumen will be nine years old in 2022. We’ve had the guts and determination to stay true to our vision, and now the market is coming round to what we have been saying for years. It’s very satisfying – and very exciting.