Tencil Talks: Paul Gubbins

Paul Gubbins is a senior member of the digital marketing industry. Paul has 17 years in sales & strategic BD across the likes of Pubmatic, The Daily Telegraph, Reuters, Verizon, and more recently the video AdTech company Unruly.

Throughout his career, he has been employee number one at early-stage startups such as StrikeAd, (sold to Sizmek) and was the former UK Country Manager of SSP Pubmatic.

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His efforts have led to him winning Exchange Wire ‘Ad Tech Personality of the year 2018’, along with being nominated for ‘Top 100 Most influential individuals in UK Digital Advertising’ in 2017 & 2018.

We caught up with him earlier today:

Q.How did you begin your media career?

PG. I answered an advert in my local newspaper for a classified sales rep role from a small & independent publishing house. I remember being extremely nervous about the interview but post an hour of talking about music & film interests with the hiring ad manager, I was offered the role on the spot. My task was to sell semi display ads across 2 different newsstand magazines. The first was Classic Tractor, the second, Mercedes Enthusiast. I really enjoyed my time in this role & both magazines are very successful today and still on sale globally, I remain in close contact with my hiring manager & look back on those days in a small office making cold sales calls fondly.

Q. What was your first role and how does it compare to your most recent role?


PG. It’s funny really, everything in digital advertising has changed in the last 15 years, the advent of data-driven advertising (often referred to as programmatic) has transformed the way publishers sell their digital inventory & more importantly, the way brands & their advertising agencies now plan & buy digital ads to engage with us, consumers. That said, my team back on Classic Tractor magazine are still selling ads in the same way, the ad manager is still pulling the flat-plan together in the same way, the magazine is printed & driven to the shops in the same way so innovation in technology & data sciences has revolutionised many parts of the advertising sector while some parts, still remain pretty much as they were 10 years ago.

That said, some say this a great opportunity for innovation if your sector has not been changed by programmatic technology, we are starting to see this in the out of home & TV sector from an advertising perspective.

Q.What advice would you give a young adult thinking about entering the digital marketing industry?

PG. I would highly recommend it, however, you have to be prepared to learn & always be curious. The advertising industry is changing more rapidly than at any time in its long history. The way consumers engage with content changes so quickly (there was life before TikTok remember..) that you really have to be able to display a real interest in consumer trends /data points and either be in a position to statistically model them or if you have chosen a sales rather than media planning & buying route in, be in a position where you feel comfortable enough taking complex data points or technology offerings and explaining them in a way your parents & friends could understand you. It’s about understanding where your key strengths lie and then finding your right role in advertising. For me, it was always in the sales departments as I am dyslexic and terrible at crunching data points but it transpired I was good at explaining things & building relationships with customers & partners.

Q. You’ve worked in media/digital marketing for 17 years, but what is your proudest achievement?

PG. I have 2, the first was launching StrikeAd commercially (A platform that lets big advertisers run ads on mobile devices by taking part in auctions for a user’s attention as the web page or app loaded). The concept of mobile programmatic was very much in its infancy in late 2010 early 2011 and I really had to build a market in the UK as the first hire & salesperson and this meant a lot of educational workshops with advertising agencies, speaking on panels & spending a lot of my own time writing posts on social media explaining why programmatic tech in mobile was much more efficient for buyers & sellers than what they were currently using, ad networks.

Paul Gubbins wins Ad Tech Personality of the Year! - Unruly
Paul, AdTech personality of the year award 2018

The 2nd, was winning AdTech personality of the year in 2018, again, I have spent the best part of 10 years trying to champion a method I truly believe supports publishers & advertisers and It was nice to get recognised for that by my peers.

Q. In this period, what was the biggest challenge that the industry has faced?

PG. Without getting into too much technical jargon, like the automotive industry is changing from petrol to electric, the programmatic advertising industry is currently changing from 3rd party cookies (the notification you often get when you visit websites) to an alternative that is yet to be decided. However, we are not changing methods because cookies destroy the atmosphere, we are changing them because many lawmakers say they can destroy privacy. This transition is the biggest challenge faced by many in digital advertising today (along with advertisers not spending as much due to global pandemics).

Q. What (if anything), would you like to see change within the industry?

PG. More diversity is needed. Lots of great initiatives are now in place to ensure our sector represents those brands that are serving their ads to.

Q. You’re an experienced media man, we know you like to lunch. What is your favourite restaurant and why?

The Wolseley | A Timeless Restaurant In The Heart Of Piccadilly
The Wolseley, Mayfair

PG. Ha, I wish, my days of long lunching are well & truly behind me. I much rather breakfast meetings these days. A lot more healthy & more importantly, productive I find. My fave spot for breakfast meetings has always been The Wolseley.

That said, if you twist my arm & I do find myself on a lunch, then its Rules every time, London oldest restaurant and never fails to impress!

Finally, we would like to thank Paul on taking time out of his busy schedule to discuss all things digital marketing earlier today.

If you would like to hear more about opportunities within digital marketing, feel free to reach out to Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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