Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Olly Lewis, MD, The Fifth

Olly Lewis is Managing Director at News UK’s influencer marketing agency The Fifth. He was previously The Head of Digital and Director of Digital Strategy for News UK,

Who is your digital hero?

Alex Hole, Vice President Samsung Electronics Europe.

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

Alex is a standout digital hero for me and personally someone who has always made the time to listen to my challenges and offer the most sound advice and support. I am now lucky enough to now call an ‘IRL’ mate (until he reads this probably!). 

Not only is he one of the most approachable, knowledgeable and authoritative digital leaders in the industry, but he has been at the vanguard of some of the most significant commercial digital launches in the last decade.

Do it once and you might chalk it off as a “great job, great timing”, but to do it time after time, demonstrates not only foresight and skill but hero status for me.

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

Let me give you just three examples;

Leading The Times & Sunday Times into the Digital Paywall back in 2010, with the accompanying shift to the first iPad edition of the newspaper. Not an easy commercial strategy to devise let alone pull off against a tidal wave of industry negativity and criticism at the time.

Now it is universally accepted to have set the sustainability model and pathway for the quality market to follow. He has since gone on to set up and build the force that is the Amazon media sales business in the UK before leaving to do the same Herculean task for Samsung Ads in the UK before the world has fully shifted to OTT.

All progressive and disruptive in their own right and setting a pace for the future of digital media.

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

I live in a predominately social world now, but my career has also been very rooted in a journalism’s world and therefore I feel passionate about the importance of trust and information. This year more than ever we have seen this, both the support it can bring to those in need but equally the damage that misinformation can inflict on communities.

So the spread of misinformation worries me greatly, as well as its ugly friend “Cancel culture”. For me, these are two of the biggest media and societal challenges we face today and we definitely need a hero, or even better, a lot of heroes, working together on all sides to pull this one off and save future generations from a spiralling issue.

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

It’s certainly not heroic. But having launched The Fifth Agency, just over 18 months ago now, I am very proud of what we have achieved so far. But none of it would have been possible without finding an incredible team of real heroes to stand with every day.

They wear the capes! Together we have built a business, albeit young, with great foundations and shared values. We hope we can help to professionalise and legitimise the Influencer marketing industry, one campaign at a time!

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