Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rebels, misfits and innovators: 50over50 – John Scorah

John Scorah has had a career in Media spanning 32 years from media agencies to media owners. In 1999 he launched his first business in media tech and in 2010 he Co-founded Mobsta. He remains a Director of Mobsta and is also Chairman of Optio Media Technologies.  

In 1995 he scraped in to 30 under 30 then published by Media Week.  

What is the biggest mistake companies are making in their attitude to age today?

If I take my social media feed as a reasonably fair gauge I’d politely suggest that being over 50 doesn’t yet mean I need incontinence pants, special aids to help put my socks on without bending down and help with funeral planning. 

All of the above genuinely started appearing the day after I turned 50. It seems that broad swathes of industry are perhaps missing a sector destined to spend another 30 plus years on the planet while at their most financially secure and with their greatest expendable income.

It’s a missed opportunity for consumers mirrored in the workforce with a demographic fully loaded with knowledge and experience being put out to pasture far too soon.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today?

It seems people aren’t having as much fun today as 30 years ago. Or maybe that’s just us geriatric over 50s? 

A people business means sociability and, dare I say it, the long lunch.

I appreciate that the world is a bigger place now with more people and things are generally more cut-throat, but I had a lunch recently that was literally worth millions to the company, so I stand by having fun and getting out of the office.

What one thing are you proudest of in your career?

Without question founding Mobsta and growing it from a  three-man operation in 2010 to the success it is today. When we launched we were determined to steer clear of traditional VC funding options and grow the business organically using our own seed capital.  

This  meant we were  free of any constraints and pressures from outside sources and give us the freedom to do things the way we knew would have a stronger chance of success, taking all the risk ourselves.

The net result is a a recognised best-in-class sales organisation and location-based specialist agency that  wins  lots of awards and  is  consistently doubling revenues year-on-year.

What creative heights are you now capable of that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve at the early or mid point of your career?

Advancements in technology have greatly improved the capabilities of sales organisations to become more involved in the creative process… but not always for the better. 

While it’s commercially advantageous for us to turn work around very quickly and at a cost that isn’t prohibitive to the media value, I’d still advise anyone who cares about their brand to always insist on professional art direction and copywriting skills, even if it does mean days rather than hours turnaround. 

Being at the head of an organisation is always going to make things easier if you’re not really accountable to anyone else that’s for sure.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today?

Hearing such positive feedback from my peers about the team we have assembled at Mobsta. Never have I had the pleasure of working with such a universally talented bunch and our recent entry in the Campaign Top 100 (No.12) best places to work suggests they’re happy too.  

Seeing the successful growth of the business beyond London, most recently with a collaboration in Sydney, while maintaining the same ethic and model that has worked so well for the business since day one and feeling the goodwill and enthusiasm for our business from our clients and agencies. 

What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your career?

Take the bits you’re good at and focus on developing them. I was always a natural sales person, but didn’t move into a sales role until I was nearly 28. I’m not saying the previous years were wasted as I’d worked in planning agency side, but in hindsight perhaps the move to sales should have been earlier.

What advice would you give to your 25-year old-self?

The contacts and friends you’re making today are going to be with you for your whole career. Integrity and loyalty are everything, this is still a people business built on strong relationships,  so take care of them.

What are you most excited about in your industry over the next 10 years?

In our specific area of location-based mobile advertising, the advent of 5G will create a whole new level with much greater precision from the data we analyse and a power shift returning to the carriers. Exciting times for the industry and the world in general.