Publicis Media poaches ITV's Steve Bignell to head UK trading

Departing executive oversaw expansion of addressable advertising.

Bignell: started career at Publicis Media’s Zenith
Bignell: started career at Publicis Media’s Zenith

Publicis Media has poached Steve Bignell, director of advanced advertising at ITV, to be UK chief executive of trading arm Publicis Media Exchange.

PMX is the UK’s third-largest media buyer by billings behind WPP and Omnicom Media Group and manages more than £1bn in annual spend for brands including Asda, Disney, Dixons Carphone, GlaxoSmithKline and Samsung. 

Bignell brings experience of both agencies and media owners as he has spent eight years at ITV and previously worked at WPP’s MediaCom as chief operating officer and at Mindshare. He started his career at Publicis Media’s Zenith.

His departure is likely to be a blow to ITV as Bignell has been a leading figure behind its new addressable advertising platform, Planet V, which the broadcaster announced last week ahead of a launch in early 2020.

Bignell will report to Sue Frogley, chief executive of Publicis Media UK, which is based in White City in London.

He replaces Chris Williams, who has run PMX in the UK but has moved back to the US.

PMX manages media trading on behalf of Publicis Media’s agencies: Blue 449, Digitas, Performics, Spark Foundry, Starcom and Zenith.

Frogley said: "Steve brings with him a wealth of industry experience and I am delighted to have him on board. His unique skillset and passion for innovation will ensure that PMX continues to drive performance and deliver best-in-class solutions for our clients."

Bignell added: "I’ve loved my nearly eight years working at ITV and wish them every success in the future. However, the opportunity to join Publicis in this amazing role is impossible to refuse.

"I started my career in media at Zenith over 20 years ago and the opportunity to work with them and all of the other Publicis Media businesses and all of their roster of clients is fantastic."

Bignell is set to join Publicis Media within a couple of months.

It is thought that ITV will launch a search for Bignell’s successor.

Big agency groups such as Publicis Media use their trading volume and share of spend to negotiate better prices from media owners, although digital buying increasingly involves the smart use of data and analytics, rather than just buying power.

Publicis Media pulled its spend from Channel 4 in January in a dispute over pricing.

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