Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

What do adtech leaders need to operate in a world of disruption?

By Guy Jackson, Co-Founder , Launchpad

Growth, transformation, and innovation all have one common denominator: leadership. Scaling a
business is a remarkable endeavour that demands a unique blend of bravery and foresight. It’s the
audacious pursuit of turning a visionary concept into a thriving reality. Businesses that succeed, are
fueled by leaders who are not only comfortable challenging themselves – but also drive the vision of
their organizations with unwavering determination.

I’ve come to understand that the responsibility of a leader doesn’t cease once the operational
foundations and teams are in place – it’s about the journey thereafter. In the ever-shifting landscape of
the business world, change and transformation should become the leader’s “Raison d’être”.
The adtech industry is no stranger to change, and we have all witnessed numerous examples of
businesses sinking due to unwillingness to adapt and listen to the changing trends. Take Specific Media,
for example. At its height, Specific Media was the company with everything going for it; a global, trusted
brand and an impressive global client roster. However, due its failure to admit and adapt to the
programmatic evolution, it struggled to maintain its crown. Further, when the GDPR came into effect,
many assumed the regulations wouldn’t reach them, with many stating ‘We’ll just wait and see’. Yet,
since it took effect in May 2018, headlines have noted over 900 fines issued across Europe and the U.K.

And now, amidst another looming change regarding the third-party cookie demise (I know, I know, this
is old news now), however, with Google’s deadline looming ever closer (assuming no delays will take
place this time around), we’re facing another future where adaptation is a prerequisite, not a nice to

From my perspective, this is the crux of the matter: Growth necessitates change, change necessitates
challenge, and overcoming those challenges requires leadership willing to continually challenge itself.
Those of you who are, like me, boxing enthusiasts might remember the legendary Marvin Hagler
proclaiming, “It’s tough to get out of bed at 5 am to do road work when you’ve been sleeping in silk
Pajamas”. The same is true of leaders in our industry, often too entrenched in the successes of scale-up,
that they refuse to admit flaws.

To achieve sustainable business growth, organizations must ardently embrace change, making it an
integral part of their strategic DNA. In this piece, I want to delve into the pivotal role of change in driving
business growth and how leaders can navigate this transformative journey successfully.

Let’s explore the Vitality of Change:

Adapting to Dynamic Markets
Markets are vibrant and in perpetual motion, characterized by ever-evolving consumer
preferences, industry trends, and economic landscapes. Enterprises that fail to adapt to these
shifting dynamics risk fading into obsolescence. By confronting these changes head-on, leaders –
you – can not only stay ahead but also actively shape their trajectory in response to market
shifts, positioning themselves for sustained growth.

Harnessing Technological Advancements
In the contemporary business landscape, technology and AI hold unprecedented significance.
Innovations in artificial intelligence, data analytics, and automation have the potential to
revolutionize industries, including the AdTech sector. Companies that resist integrating these
transformative technologies into their operations run the risk of falling behind. Headlines are
already stating that “AI will change the world more than the Internet ever did”. Let me leave yo
to ponder that…

Thriving Amidst Competition
Competition is the driving force behind innovation and progress. The presence of multiple hair
salons on a bustling high street or clusters of estate agents in a quaint village serves as a
testament to the vitality of competition. However, thriving amid competition necessitates
adaptation. Leadership teams who fail to adapt risk losing market share to more agile and
forward-thinking rivals. And vice versa, embracing change empowers businesses not just to
compete but to lead their respective industries.

For any business embarking on a journey of growth, the list of changes required to usher in a new
chapter can be staggering. It’s a challenge that demands resolute leadership. However, it’s essential to
remember that leadership is not synonymous with solitude. It takes a collective of diverse individuals,
experts, and forward-thinkers to chart a strategic roadmap that navigates the challenges, changes, and
opportunities ahead.

Sir Martin Sorrell once again explains, “If you ask any CEO, CMO, CFO, CIO, CTO or chief sales officer
what frustrates them about their organization – it is the lack of willingness and the lack of response.”
Willingness to adapt is key; Evolution defines strength, and stepping out of your comfort zone to
challenge the status quo can lead to remarkable heights. So next time you feel yourself falling into a
state of paralysis – unable to move because you are scared of what change might mean – Challenge
yourself. Change starts with you.


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