Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Paul Hood, The Sun

The digital industry’s not really about technology, it’s about people. The digital economy is supported by technology but is conceived, created and developed by people, the heroes of digital.

But who are their heroes? Who inspired, supported and taught them along their journey and to become digital heroes?

We want to find out. So, we’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them. And, in return, we’ll be asking the nominated hero to choose their own, creating a never-ending celebration of the most respected people in digital.

We asked Paul Hood, a true innovator in digital publishing, currently Digital Marketing Director at The Sun who his digital hero is.

Who is your digital hero?

James Booth, founder and CEO of Scoota. James founded a company called TangoZebra way back when digital display advertising creative was pretty much limited to animated gifs.

Tango Zebra created technology that helped pave the way for rich media creatives in digital, allowing video and sound to be incorporated into ads.

James has been involved at the cutting edge of adtech for more than 15 years, he has contributed a huge amount to our industry and is also one of the few leaders in tech who always takes time to support and advise new tech startups. He’s a top bloke too.

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

Digital display spend growth in the UK would almost certainly have been slower through the noughties without  TangoZebra’s tech and vision for digital display, especially for premium publishers.

TZ may not have been a household name but the technology it pioneered facilitated some of the most impactful digital creative formats commonly used on premium content sites today. 

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

In digital media, Ad fraud is a huge problem. The industry bodies are working hard to set standards and foster collaboration between publishers, brands and agencies, but there’s definitely room for a few heroes to step up in to find fixes.

It’s a challenge that needs tackling by brands, agencies, tech intermediaries and publishers. News UK’s Ben Walmesley is one of the pioneers within publishing to be playing a key role in exploring the issues and pushing for change.

There are also some interesting startups working in this space. (Incidentally, James Booth’s current business, Scoota is doing some good work in the area).

If anyone reading this believes they can be part of the solution, call us! 

For wider society, we (in media) need to do a better job of shining a light on some of the unsung heroes who are using tech to improve society and the quality of the lives of the disadvantaged in not-for-profit areas.

Mike Butcher’s work in the UK with Techfugees is a good example. We need to elevate more of the heroes in these areas.

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

I can’t really take the credit for this, but last year, our football fantasy game Dream Team created and executed a phenomenally successful social engagement strategy which led to its Facebook page delivering the highest level of engagement of more than 8,000 global brands monitored by Social Bakers.

Actually we were pipped to first place by Red Bull, but for the small team here to have created more organic interactions on our Facebook page than any media brand or football club is a phenomenal result. All credit to the brilliant folk who created the content and executed the social strategy.