Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rebels, Misfits & Innovators: 50over50 – Juan Dominguez

The digital industry’s not really about technology, it’s about people. We’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them.

Juan Dominguez, CEO, Adglow created one of most successful online travel agencies in Spain, Viajar.com, which was sold for $600 million in 2007. He serves as a professor at Instituto Superior para el Desarrollo de Internet (ISDI), volunteers as a mentor in Wayra (Telefonica’s start-up accelerator) and is an angel investor.

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

Although being ‘mature’ is not what it used to be, I believe that the digital world could do with a lot more seniority, particularly when it comes to ‘old’ aspects of business like finance, administration, human resources, etc.

In these areas an experienced head can be worth an awful lot. 

What one thing are you proudest of in your career? 

Having been able to move from one business (online travel) to another (advertising) with a degree of success. Right now, I am trying my hand at TV production, using lessons from the past, and I seem to be doing well so far. 

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? 

I am able to read the momentum of the business much better – to understand that there are certain inflection points that we reach where we can succeed if we seize the moment at the right time. I think I’m also better able to understand the motivations of people in the business and respond to them.

In the end, it is all about the people.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today? 

The fact that I still work with people I recruited, for a different business, twenty years ago. I feel that if I still have the trust of people that know me well, I must have done something right.

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

That people come first. And that money is not always that good a motivator.

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

Talk to her, you have nothing to lose!

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

That the speed of change will increase, and it will create many more opportunities for the ones ready to ride the wave.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today? 

The unjustified belief that you can do just about anything with digital advertising (winning an election, convincing people to act against their own self-interest) and not having been able to get out of the conspiracy theories that come along with that belief.

The narrative around digital advertising is in danger of being swamped by discussions about the abuse of platforms – and while I think that this is obviously an important issue, I think that for most advertisers what’s really key to them is delivering value and innovation that helps them to better serve their customers. 

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