Tencil Talks: Alexei de Berner

Alexei de Berner is the UK Sales Director at SHAREIGHT.

SHAREIGHT is a technology company that offers sponsored content partnerships with a portfolio of premium publishers with whom they have proprietary real estate.

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The SHAREIGHT platform connects global consumer publishing groups, national newspapers, FTSE100 property companies, and independent publishers with just about every major retailer and other advertisers from Telecoms, Automotive, and Travel (directly and indirectly through global media agencies).

Over the past 9 years, Alexei has worked at the likes of The Independent, Millennial Media, GumGum and more recently Shareight.

Today we decided to catch up with him on his career success to date.

Q. Talk us through your professional career to date?

ADB: I started off doing cold calls for the classified department of Independent Print Ltd. Working across The Independent (back when it was a print newspaper) and the i. I actually started out on lifestyle, using google to search up any amount of random businesses to call and desperately scramble to fill odd scraps of space in the darkest reaches of a dying newspaper and maybe also throw in a few thousand impressions on the website. I had practically zero industry knowledge at the time, so I had no idea how ineffective this probably was for those businesses. I was just happy to have a job in a big fancy building like Northcliffe House for a well known title. After about 3 months I moved onto education, working with universities around the country on much more substantial advertising across supplements and doing sponsorships. This was also where I started to learn tiny bits and pieces about digital. At the time it seemed like cutting edge stuff but I clearly had no idea about the scope of what was to come. I was promoted to field sales after less than a year and used that as a springboard to actually get stuck into the real world of advertising. Through a bit of luck and a good recruitment agency I landed an exec role at a company called Millennial Media (later acquired by AOL to become part of Oath). This is where my career would truly begin, I was given my first agencies to look after with M&C Saatchi and Havas Media. In my two years at Millennial I worked across some of the biggest global brands on some truly innovative mobile campaigns, made some fantastic lasting friends and really started to get my teeth into understanding digital and mobile display and then later programmatic advertising. My most recent role previously was at GumGum where I got the chance to work with AI and image recognition technology as well as work with and learn from some fantastic colleagues and leaders. I’m now at Shareight as a leader myself where we are working with brands and agencies on building out our content partnerships offering.

Q. How does your first professional role differ from your current role?

ADB: Hugely different. Whilst my first role gave me a great basic toolkit to work from in terms of sales skill and basic industry knowledge, when I moved to Millennial it was like starting out from scratch all over again. Now my job at Shareight mostly involves having lots of meetings and understanding all the challenges marketers face across the industry in telling their brand stories and being heard over the clutter. It’s a lot of questioning, listening, understanding and then brainstorming innovative solutions with my team. It’s really about presenting people with new options to market their products and hopefully getting them as excited as we are about those opportunities. It’s a far cry from phoning up a florist in Derby and trying to get them to give you £150 for a 3×2 in the back of the paper. However everyone HAS to get their start somewhere, and honestly I wouldn’t trade the start I had for any other.

Q. What excites you about digital marketing?

ADB: The digital marketing industry is constantly shifting and changing and it’s really key to try and stay on top of what’s going on. There’s always something new and innovative on the horizon and there is always a flavour of the week. It’s really exciting to work in an industry where the range of tools and opportunities available to brands is always growing, as are the challenges they face. Most recently lots of companies have had to completely rework the way they target users and keep data following GDPR. Not only that but the need to reach people in new and exciting ways and “cut through” is ever present. With technology like AR and VR now a reality lots of brands are starting to dabble with immersive advertising and storytelling. Whilst I personally doubt something like VR advertising will be the new norm anytime soon it’s still exciting to be in an industry where these things are possible and are already being done.

Q. Name one thing you would like to see change in digital marketing and why?

ADB: I think without a doubt there needs to be a more credible and sustained challenge to the duopoly of Facebook and Google which is certainly squeezing the industry of both revenue and talent. Publishers clubbing together (Such as in the case of The Ozone Project) is a good step in the right direction but I really think the onus is also on agencies and brands to recognise the threat that is being posed to their ability to invest budgets in a diverse way and have access to exciting and innovative new methods of reaching their customer base.

Q. What advice would you offer an outsider who knows little about digital marketing?

ADB: People working in digital marketing and advertising are generally just normal folk like you, there is no personality trait or quirk that makes you right for it. There’s also probably a million different combinations of roles and specialisations to work on be it in creative or tech or planning or sales. If digital marketing is something that interests you then there is more than likely a role you can take on if you look for it.

Q. Do you think that there are enough materials out there to educate young adults about our industry?

ADB: Certainly there wasn’t when I was first getting into the industry, I had absolutely no clue what I was signing up for. I’m not sure exactly what kind of resources are available now but I am sure matters have improved, though there can never be too much right?

Q. (Funny) – Our correspondents have heard rumours that you are a big fan of lunches – but what is your favourite restaurant and why?

ADB: Friday lunch is absolutely the most important part of the job and I take it very seriously. The key is choosing a restaurant where your guests will easily lose track of time and spend the whole afternoon there, eventually rendering a return to work futile and inevitably leading to the pub. My favorite is without a doubt Macellaio RC in Exmouth Market. It’s an Italian butcher with a restaurant attached and you just order the most amazing cuts of meat and sides to share. Lots of top pubs in the area to check out after as well.

Finally, we would like to thank Alexei for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us earlier today.

If you would like to hear more information on opportunities that exist within digital marketing, then feel free to reach out to Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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