Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rebels, Misfits & Innovators: 50over50 – Dave Barker

We think it’s time to recognise and celebrate the true talent in our industry, the creatives, technologists, founders and leaders that are really driving our industry and shaping society, who just happen to be over 50.

50over50 is a series of interviews with our most influential and inspiring industry leaders aged 50 and over.

Dave Barker is a digital pioneer and true industry veteran. A key player in the development of the mobile content and marketing industry, he is now leading the growth of martech giant Amobee as MD and Senior Vice President in EMEA.

What one thing are you proudest of in your career?

Being part of the senior team that grew and sold the web agency Hyperlink to Cable & Wireless in 2000, followed by the sale of mobile marketing agency Enpocket to Nokia in 2007. My friends say, “Once was luck, twice was a fluke!”

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?

In the early years, I used to make a lot of decisions on-the-fly, with more emphasis on gut instinct and general business acumen.

Naturally, as I planted myself deeper in the media and adtech space, where change is the only constant, I became much more considered and collaborative in decision-making.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today?

Being able to have some input into how new grads can develop in the exciting world of digital, and on the other hand, having the opportunity to work with some veterans who joined the industry at the same time I did in new capacities.

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

Stay grounded and be extremely commercial.

Being able to win consistently and develop long-lasting relationships with clients is key.

Put simply, a vision for growth has to be backed with operational rigour – a business is not going to go places just by being the coolest brand or having charismatic leaders with visible public profiles.

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

We should work to live rather than live to work. This can be easier said than done, but the continued pursuit of that healthy balance is important.

At the same time, if you love what you do, the positivity spills over to your team and your clients. The outcome is better working relationships between all stakeholders.

What is the biggest mistake companies — brands or the industry – are making in their attitude to age today?

Personally, I haven’t witnessed ageism in the industry, but if it exists then I suspect it is because employers fail to really see the value in experience gained from riding the ups and downs of the business cycle.

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

The annual lunch that I host at Cannes each year, obviously!

But seriously, I think one of the greatest opportunities is in the future of TV. Global TV advertising will reach over $200 billion in 2020 and we are only in the early-stages of the TV and video advertising transformation. 

The level of data and insights we’ve come to expect in digital advertising, we will also have available for TV.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today?

It’s not a regret, but I would like to see every player in the industry taking an active role in making the way we do business more transparent and accountable.

It would do a lot of good to remove the bad apples and reduce some of the unnecessary cynicism associated with martech.