Top 10 commercial chiefs 2015

Executives from companies including ITV, Channel 4 and Google make up this year's list of the top commercial chiefs.

Kelly Williams, ITV
Kelly Williams, ITV

1. Kelly Williams, managing director, commercial, ITV

The nice guy of TV ad sales has had a tough job keeping revenues flowing as ITV has seen its share of viewing fall, yet he has delivered another year of better than 5 per cent growth. There have been deeper partnerships, such as the Suzuki deal for Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, the opening of ITV AdVentures to create video content for brands, the relaunch of the ITV Hub online service and a passionate defence of live free-to-air TV by Williams and his deputy, Simon Daglish, at a triumphant upfronts gala at the London Palladium that left rivals in the shade.

2. Jonathan Allan, sales director, Channel 4

It has been a very good year for Allan, who can claim a lot of credit for Channel 4’s double whammy of Sales Team of the Year at both the Media Week Awards and the Campaign Media Awards – not to mention C4’s strong performance in this year’s Annual. His team keeps innovating, with a premium programmatic video exchange and its branded content arm, Pl4y, the latest new services. Critics will say that the C4 sales house is benefiting from the strong performance of its biggest external client, UKTV. 

3. Eileen Naughton, managing director, Google UK & Ireland

Naughton knows how to set the agenda with her bold research claim, announced at Google Brandcast, that brands should put 24 per cent of their TV budget into YouTube to reach 16- to 34-year-olds. What she probably didn’t anticipate was the backlash, as traditional broadcasters howled in disbelief. No wonder, when Google – or, more correctly, its new parent company, Alphabet – is a juggernaut that keeps rolling, bringing in £4 billion in annual revenues in Britain. Naughton is leading from the front both in sales and as a vocal cheerleader, even if Facebook is closing the gap.

4. John Litster, managing director, Sky Media

Low-profile but high-powered, Litster has been quietly building an international ad sales powerhouse. There was no gloating when Sky Media landed Channel 5’s ad sales in May, resulting in job losses at the terrestrial broadcaster, but it has turned Litster’s oufit into a £1 billion business. The launch of the cross-device targeting platform Sky AdVance, an international sales office in Munich to drive pan-European deals and plans to woo clients in Asia show the breadth of his team’s ambition.

5. Steve Hatch, UK & Ireland director, Facebook

Moving from agency to media owner isn’t always easy but Hatch has managed the transition smoothly, bringing his people skills from his MEC days. He might have hopped on board an express train – Facebook is all but certain to smash the £1 billion-a-year sales mark in the UK next year – but Hatch’s operation has won a reputation for working well with clients and agencies. Instagram has hit 14 million UK users and counting, and Hatch has landed a non-executive directorship at Trinity Mirror. 

6. Dominic Carter, managing director, commercial, News UK

He is the steady pair of hands who has been promoted, and tasked with getting the News UK commercial team back in favour in adland after the chief executive Rebekah Brooks’ whirlwind return coincided with a string of high-level departures and The Sun’s paywall being dropped. Measured and understated, Carter is on a mission to push cross-platform deals and brand partnerships – with rival MailOnline in the cross hairs.

7. James Wildman, chief revenue officer, Trinity Mirror

The cheerful, affable sales boss has a growth story to tell after the Daily Mirror publisher doubled its digital revenues and increased its regional footprint by a third with the Local World acquisition. Wildman is that rare beast – an experienced digital operator (ex-Yahoo) who is banging the drum for newsprint too. He has articulated a powerful argument that media buyers are wrongly shunning newspapers and mags – a prejudice he dubbed "printism".

8. Mike Gordon, chief commercial officer, Global Radio

Britain’s top radio ad salesman has been building Global’s reputation as an innovator, ramping up its Digital Audio Exchange, Dax, which now works with nearly 140 publishers, and introducing programmatic trading this year. He also oversees a 70-strong in-house creative team that works with brands to make content designed for audio. All this helped Global win Audio Sales Team of the Year at the Campaign Media Awards.

9. Spencer Berwin, sales director, JCDecaux

It has been a landmark year for JCDecaux’s top sales man as the outdoor owner snatched Transport for London’s £500 million bus shelter contract from Clear Channel – and his team has a fighting chance of winning the Tube deal too. Berwin is leading the charge for mobile innovation and talking up programmatic. Anyone who says "I love the medium" ought to be a poster boy for the sector.

10. Dara Nasr, managing director, Twitter UK

Nasr, who has led the Twitter sales team in London since 2012, has earned his promotion to managing director after UK revenues more than doubled last year. The parent company may face doubts about its direction but Nasr has been successfully pushing brand partnerships and products such as Twitter Moments.