A view from the top
A view from Colin Gottlieb

A view from the top

On my desk sits a battered Pocket Oxford Dictionary. It was given to me by my father-in-law 20 years ago. It defines a holiday as a "break from one's normal work".

This week, I returned from my holiday and one of my first meetings was with a great bunch of guys we wish to acquire. I love their passion, optimism and the quality of their work. Their numbers are impressive too.

One of the partners asked me if I managed to switch off during my holiday. I laughed. The only time I come close to switching off is the week from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. He looked surprised, but I explained the job I do is irresistible. I can’t break from "normal work" because my work isn’t normal.

Earlier this year, the deeply impressive Richard Eyre said that, after 37 years in the business, "I’ve never been so excited". I’m only in year 33, but Richard effortlessly nailed the mood.

This business has never been more demanding, more urgent, more complex, more exciting and more irresistible. It’s the explosive nature of change, its increasing velocity, scale of disruption and the writing of new rules that are so irresistible.

Some people still don’t get media. They see it as the old volume game. Ironically, the "volume game" is a relatively recent phenomenon. Years before I joined the business, media had become a specialist craft requiring equal measures of tenacity, agility, creativity, curiosity and the ability to make strategic sense of complex data.

The tech giants driving digital have kind of taken us back to this time, but with dynamics and possibilities unimaginable 40 years ago.

In Cannes, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with Robert Kyncl, the head of content and business operations at YouTube. Listening to him is like watching Novak Djokovic knocking some balls around in your local park: inspiring and humbling.

Robert is transforming the television programme distribution model, with YouTube acting as a retailer of content. Maker Studios, a network on YouTube, has, according to Fortune, 25,000 channels and 3.8 billion views per month. It is just four years old.

YouTube’s ecosystem isn’t without its challenges, but you wouldn’t bet against Robert and his team.

Fortunately, most people get where media is going and how fast it’s changing. Even procurement is beginning to reassess the metrics to measure media’s role in campaign effectiveness.

This week, I also had a call with a key client who is a senior procurement lead. They recognise that price-only inputs are not sustainable. That performance needs to be measured using metrics that align with a client’s business and brand KPIs, and which reflect the adaptive, real-time world. They believe creating the solution should be a collaborative process too.

This might sound dry, but it’s an important project. Because it would allow our teams to embrace change faster, be more fluid and adaptive. We’re talking about empowering teams to do what they came into the business to do: create dynamic stories across platforms that can be measured, recognised and rewarded. And deliver the improvement in business results that clients want.

My work isn’t normal. And it’s virtually impossible to switch off. But the job is irresistible and, right now, there isn’t an industry I would rather be in.

Colin Gottlieb is the chief executive, EMEA, at Omnicom Media Group

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