Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Media Hero: Tim Harvey, Founder, Knitting Media

Tim Harvey, Founder of Knitting Media, has had a career spanning 15 years in the advertising and adtech industries.

Who is your media hero?

A hero can be defined as someone who achieves something of great benefit for the majority of people who can’t do, don’t want to do, don’t think they could do and who actively dissuade the hero from doing it.

In Digital Out-Of-Home media, which is a media less than 20 years old, my hero is a gentleman called Steve Arnold who is now happily retired.

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

Steve set up the world’s first large digital out-of-home advertising network called Transvision that consisted of large LED screens broadcasting news and advertising into all major UK railway station concourses.

This was in the days when the blue led had only been recently invented (until then only basic coloured LED screens showed text or tickers), there were very few skills in the market for installing/supporting public screens (not to mention getting structural work and power/internet connections into victorian railway stations) and no precedent for selling ‘full motion posters’ in the Out-Of-Home / Billboard media market.

Steve, who was working at Maiden Outdoor and an accountant by trade, had to build an entire technical and commercial ecosystem from scratch. 

On the most minimum of budgets, Steve pulled together a rag-tag heroic team of suppliers, installers, developers, schedulers and sales people and created the most technically advanced and profitable Out Of Home network the world had ever seen.

How has his heroism helped drive media?

The success of the Transvision network opened the door for investment into hundreds of 65” portrait LCD screens being installed in train stations and shopping malls, again with no precedence for the technology, installation, management and commercialisation.

This heroic work in the UK saw the emerging digital media channel change hands from Maiden to Titan to JCDecaux and saw the blueprint repeated worldwide to become the global Out-Of-Home business we have today worth £33Billion 

Anyone today working in Digital Out Of Home media owes a nod to Steve Arnold and his unconventionally diverse team of suppliers, installers, developers, schedulers and sales people who laid the foundations for today’s Digital Out Of Home media channel that truly and honestly gets the right message, to the right place at the right time. 

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

I think the next heroic act will be to get true diversity into the media industry.

This is the diversity that comes without a visual clue and relates to social class, educational background and regional representation which is needed now more than ever.

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

A couple of years ago I was in a position to introduce an Out-Of-Home media planning and buying platform called SmartBRICS to the media world. A big ‘Upfront’ event was booked at Paddington in London and I’d been given a slot alongside media luminaries such as Les Binet and Mark Ritson. 

I felt the only way to demonstrate my 100% belief in the product and team that I’d created the platform with, was to do a completely live demo, taking an Out-Of-Home media booking from an audience brief, through live trading, to dynamic content serving, then live performance reporting with the live Out-Of-Home screens on stage.

Four years of trying to achieve a business transformation of great benefit for the majority of people who sometimes didn’t want to do, sometimes didn’t think they could do and who sometimes actively dissuaded me not to do, all boiled down to a 20-mins live demonstration. 

It worked (phew) 

Now working on the next one.