Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Ruben Schreurs, Chief Product Officer, Ebiquity

Ruben Schreurs is Ebiquity’s Chief Product Officer. He joined the group when Ebiquity acquired his firm Digital Decisions in early 2020. In a digital advertising career spanning over a decade, he previously held roles at Infectious Media, Yieldr, and Autheos, alongside interim appointments at CNN International, the FT.

Who is your digital hero?

I would like to nominate the mavericks of our industry; or, as Apple put it so brilliantly in their famous ad, ‘Here’s to the crazy ones’.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

For me, this list would include people like Claire Atkin, Nandini Jammi, Seb Joseph, Max Schrems, Heidi Saas, Johnny Ryan, Augustine Fou, … to name but a few.

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

Each one of these heroes dares to speak out even when it doesn’t align with popular opinion, often resulting in severe criticism or even downright harassment. They believe in something and stand up for it.

You may disagree with their positions, or dislike their approach or the language they use, but they are a vital part of our industry in my opinion. Every industry needs contrarians and activists, and I’m glad we have ours.

How has their heroism helped drive digital?g

All in their own way are reaching an audience and making an impact at scale. Whether it’s Claire and Nandini at Check My Ads aiming to defund hate speech step by step; Johnny clearly laying out the privacy issues in the adtech industry and driving regulatory action; Max standing up to Facebook not once but twice; or Heidi telling the FTC and global viewership why she hates data brokers – they are driven by conviction and dare to represent their point of view against often much more powerful and better capitalised opponents.

Bringing inconvenient truths is never easy, especially when the normal path would likely yield many more rewards (in terms of income, invites to events, and many other things!).

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

I don’t have a definitive answer to that, but personally I feel the following challenges are vital for us to address as an industry:

Supporting quality journalism; harmful disinformation and hate speech; emissions measurement and decarbonisation; strict compliance with privacy regulations and rewarding proactive ethical conduct; genuine and impactful focus on a diverse, inclusive, and equitable industry; protection of children and other vulnerable groups.

My recent AdExchanger column contains some further background on this.

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

I am not a hero by any measure. What I can say is that my Digital Heroes inspire me to stand up for what is right and give me the confidence to take the difficult path when needed.