Tag Archives: curt hecht

My 2012. Perpetual motion.

Perpetual motion in more ways than one. Change is the only certainty in life and we certainly experienced it this year. Travel wise it was the year of going to the US, Palo Alto, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles. But let’s not forget the best that Europe has to offer with Madrid, Moscow, Milan, Cannes and Monte Carlo, Paris x 10, Amsterdam, Prague and on it goes. It is something I love to do and simply the best way of getting to know the network but can also take its toll.

I got a new boss this year and said goodbye to my first VivaKi boss in the form of Curt Hecht who left to join The Weather Channel. Curt was an entirely new kind of leader to those I have had in the past. He inspired me to look at our media world differently, he was himself in perpetual motion and seemed to never run out of energy for this business of ours. He pushed me, supported me and at times put a few European noses out of joint on his visits, importantly he taught me that travel, events, meeting bright people is worth something, it makes you more worldly, and helps you form a different view to those who listen to only those around them. Curt will and I know already is doing a great job. Enter stage left Kurt Unkel. Old Curt, new Kurt as they were for many months!

Thanks in part to all this change I was invited to Paris, Publicis Groupe HQ to meet Maurice Levy for a brief one to one. It was the very pinnacle of my career, if you would have told me as a TV buyer in 96 that I would get to meet Maurice I would have laughed – in fact I would probably have not known who he was! It’s funny how some of my external colleagues in the likes of Google meet him all the time (relatively) and yet it is so hard as a part of his organisation, but anyway, it was a privilege.

New Kurt as my boss can’t receive too many positive comments here for fear of brown nosing abuse, but suffice to say that he is a good guy, smart and looking forward to working with him in 2013. It’s been a crazy work year so much growth and development, part of a team of people now overseeing the new VivaKi proposition I am expecting no let up in 2013. But 2012 has seen us grow to 11 markets live with Audience On Demand in EMEA, the latest being Russia in December. We have worked tirelessly to create this EMEA wide expertise so that our advertisers can have a genuine centre of excellence wherever they are, it has been down to a lot of hard work from the VNC leaders across Europe – particularly Bea, Lothar, JB, Sara, Danny, Geoff as well as Becky for getting me around!

I reduced the sitting on Exchangewire panels of 2011 in 2012 and did some interesting and varied panels and presentations. I presented a digital overview at the IAA earlier in the year. A session at the FT around B2B comms and the future developments. A fantastic panel at Monaco Media Forum with Brian from Digiday – you can see that here. and have actually written more solid content for media publications. My first one of those was a sum up of CES and the impact of connected TVs..it’s long but if you want it – click here.

As usual I got into the odd scrape, although a lot less. My blog on the Dataxu purchase of Mexad called ‘Mathmen just turned back into Madmen’ went down well with some and less well with others. Siding with the Google view of ‘a frictionless Web‘ also brought a few a google haters out but as we showed in December with the World first search retargeting campaign, it was a great development.

Google Zeitgeist, Client Advisory Board in California, Monaco Media Forum, Cannes, CES – all great locations and events and yes you can and do have a lot of fun but at the same time, I have learned so much from so many bright people through these events, it is a very fortunate and a not to be taken for granted opportunity. The pace of change right now is break neck and these events help us stay in touch or at least try to.

Just as you think you are in a groove enter VivaKi 2.0. New structures, new propositions, all change again, but it is exciting and nerve racking at the same time, 2013 starts very quickly when we are back and I have a feeling won’t stop until that last working day of 2013. The team I work with and for is an incredible bunch, so bloody bright and enthusiastic. If anyone can create and steer change it is them and that gives you a lot of confidence. The guys I sit with right now in London have all worked their skins off and done a great job, it is these guys that make it happen and I look forward to a new year with them all.

Perpetual motion, managed by my awesome PA Becky has been mainly work focused but just to add a bit more into the mix we moved to Beaconsfield from Balham in May, another life change for us, one we have enjoyed thoroughly, not least it allowed me to buy that Yamaha T-Max 500 scooter I had been coveting! I grew up in the country and so I return (sort of). Sad to say one advantage is being near Heathrow!

The last icing on the cake came with being asked into Campaign A-list in December and judging Media Week Awards both for the first time (late developer!) but one question I was asked was ‘how have the last 12 months been for you?’ My answer was that they have been the best of my entire career. I am so pleased that after 16 years of work I have been given the opportunity to say that and I will be working doubly hard next year to make sure I can say it again this time next year.

Thanks to everyone in my team, to friends and colleagues and to all those companies we work with, I wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

It’s late. Good night and HNY.

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All change at The VivaKi Nerve Center

The one consistent in life is change (I think there is a more eloquent phrase) but it is true and I am excited to be in the heart of that change. Curt has been a great leader but everyone moves on at some point and our team is really strong and we are excited about VNC 2.0. Below is the release that went out yesterday, exciting times all around.

CHICAGO,  4/12/12 – VivaKi CEO Jack Klues today announced that Kurt Unkel has been named President of the VivaKi Nerve Center. Unkel assumes responsibilities from Curt Hecht, who moves to a new role at The Weather Channel. Unkel will report into Frank Voris, global chief financial officer for VivaKi. Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer of VivaKi, will serve as advisor to Unkel and the Nerve Center leadership.

Prior to assuming the role of president, Unkel had been EVP/general manager of Audience on Demand™ (AOD) – one of the Nerve Center’s fastest growing practices and largest revenue-drivers.  Today the practice services 350+ clients and manages over 15,000 daily campaigns across display, search, video, mobile and social.

Unkel has been a member of Publicis Groupe for more than a decade and among the Nerve Center’s first employees. Prior to joining the Nerve Center, Unkel created and led digital strategy, investment, analytics and ad operations teams across Publicis Groupe, with a special focus on General Motors (GM). Unkel resides in Detroit and will be based there.

“Curt Hecht has built a strong foundation for the VivaKi Nerve Center, and Kurt Unkel is just the right person to drive our vision forward,’ said Klues. “Kurt has shown great leadership in building and developing AOD from one of the first agency-led ad trading platforms with two clients and three employees to a world-class practice that has been replicated in markets all over the world, and leads the competition.”

“The Nerve Center is comprised of some of the sharpest minds in digital and tech,” said Publicis Groupe Chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy. “With Kurt at the helm, we look forward to more aggressively pursuing new opportunities in arenas such as data, mobile, social and technology.”

Unkel and the Nerve Center are supported by a seasoned leadership team, including Doug Kofoid, who is EVP of product development. Kofoid is an operations expert and co-author of several Nerve Center products, including AOD Social.  The Nerve Center will leverage his expertise more broadly across the globe in the coming months.

Sean Kegelman has been named EVP of partnerships, and will continue to lead global partnerships and create new opportunities with companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and others for the Nerve Center and the VivaKi agencies it supports.

Marco Bertozzi has been elevated to executive managing director of Nerve Center EMEA, focusing on continued expansion of the Nerve Center throughout the region.  Co-founder of The Pool, Tracey Scheppach will continue to explore engagement models of the future while serving as EVP/innovations director for VivaKi.

The Nerve Center leadership team also includes Pradeep Ananthapadmanabhan, who continues to serve as chief technology officer for the Nerve Center and Project Olympic; Ken Wiesman, who leads Finance and Barb Jobs, who continues to lead Talent.

The Nerve Center was formed in 2008 to provide tools, technology and offerings that give VivaKi agencies and their clients an edge when it comes to digital media and marketing solutions. The Nerve Center currently employees more than 250 employees worldwide, with a presence in  Australia, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

A week at The VivaKi Nerve Center

A week at The Vivaki Nerve Center

Monday

An early meeting with the WW CEO of ZenithOptimedia to discuss how the market is shaping up and what can be expected of 2012. As the conference season starts I am being pulled in a number of directions to make sure everyone who needs the latest info has it!

Later that morning a call with the boss, Curt Hecht, it’s a about planning stage and we discuss what we need to get done for 2012 and how we will work with the agencies. A lot of progress in 2011 for VivaKi and The VivaKi Nerve Center and so it makes for some great conversations for next year. More than ever we will be a very European organisation which is achievement in itself. a series of meetings with the major EMEA markets all to be planned.

A session on contracts, which seems to take up a lot of time at the moment, but we are making real progress with a number of contracts signed that will help power The Pool, Partnerships and AOD.

End the day back at the WW CEO’s office to finalise some notes for the conference and its my turn to start to prepare for the Exchangewire ATS event where I am on a panel with Nigel Gilbert from Orange, Gurman from MediaIQ, Breadon from AOL, Martin from infectious and hosted by Zuzanna at Microsoft. Will be a good day I am sure.

In the evening, I went to the Appnexus / Microsoft drinks and met with the founder of Appnexus, the new head of Microsoft, Andy Hart and a number of others. Bumped into Jakob of GroupM, always a pleasure and we had a little catch up and then I had to leave for dinner with Quantcast and Exchangewire down at BerryBros.

As usual you learn something on these nights and having spoken to a number of people from other groups, its clear to me that VivaKi are the most integrated and aligned group in this space, working hand and glove with the agencies. I hope over time this pays dividends for us all.

Tuesday – ATS Day

Arriving at the event really makes you see how far things have moved on in the last year. Ciaran’s first one was a big event but this really surpassed itself with 400+ guests. Unfortunately as the day went on it became clear that again it lacked publishers and advertisers. The more I think about this though, the more I think, why should they be there?

Morning sessions were OK but lacked direction, more moderation, different questioners and less keynotes would have improved the morning session. Keynotes fund these events but I feel having Mediamath and Rubicon and Appnexus all doing a turn is perhaps excessive.

Microsoft did a great session, slick presentation and I think surprised everyone, he even presented an Apple Ad, which was the talk of the Twittersphere..

The afternoon panel I was on was billed to be controversial, I knew it would not be, for two reasons. The first is we have said this before and the second is that people in the audience don’t want to stand out and make issues. The bigger these events become the more polite they will become. I had a couple of key themes I wanted to get across around the whole Ad Trading Desks.

1. We are not an Ad Network
2. We will cut back on Ad Network spend
3. We will be aiming to centralise all retargeting and we think it’s the right thing to do
4. We work with a number of DSPs just not in the UK and we know what is what

I made all of these statements as well as suggesting Ad Nets use client data across their campaigns and received no resistance so, if it was not controversial, it was not because of me! Feedback has been that it was too about positioning of each others company etc but you go where the questions take you.

All in all though, a good day, got to catch up with some great people from around the business and generally enjoyed it all.

Wednesday

We march on with an exciting morning meeting with a large European company that is soon to become Vivak’s first VNC Partner in EMEA. We have of course high profile relations with Microsoft and Google as well as other US companies, but this is the first at scale. We worked through the opportunities, what we need to do together and how we can help each other, a great start to Wednesday and we look forward to releasing that news soon.

Later that day, I 100% focused on The Pool. We have been delayed on this but we are ready to go again, very exciting, there is other info on The Pool elsewhere on my blog Later this year I am presenting at the IAB conference on Spain the results of the Spanish Lane and some of the work that’s been going on in the US, I am really excited about the results that have come from this work.

We have three great publisher partners and already two major clients so things are looking great in that regard, there will be more to come on that subject shortly.

The day ends meeting a team of senior Google Product managers who are trying to work with us to provide insight to power Audience On Demand. It’s these meetings that the Google partnership is founded on, not media spend and discounts. It was a really interesting session and we learned alot about what is coming up. Invite will be a very powerful proposition.

Thursday

A quieter day on the meetings and valuable time to catch up. I did meet up with the CEO of Vindico and team who have big ambitions in the UK. We work with them on The Pool and they are a great outfit. Its time we need to get over the control issue around video adserving, we have been through this once with display and its time we moved on when it comes to video. We are used to substandard, early 2000 type tracking and reporting which is not acceptable.

Friday

A chance to discuss everything we have been doing and seeing this week. A morning appointment with a client with a brief to talk them through all the things The Vivaki Nerve Center are working on, went brilliantly and we will be doing some great work I hope. They showed the kind of interest in innovation that makes it all worth while.

A run for the train from glamorous Slough with just enough time to read the placard under the stuffed dog at the station and down to Microsoft to present to their regional scale display teams and talk about the importance of agency trading desks. Quite a turn out and some great questions from the group, I hope we can act on some of the discussions and continue to grow our global partnership.

I end the week with some time to keep up momentum with The Pool, discuss with thepaulsilver the final touches of an exciting launch next week and what I am going to do when he is on holiday!