MM Awards

Movers & Shakers: Rovio, Quantcast, GroupM, Inskin Media and more

David Murphy

The mobile marketing industry is ever-changing, and that applies to the people as much as the technology. Movers & Shakers is our regular feature following the hottest hires in the industry, so you can keep track of who’s joined which company, and what they’re doing there.

Robert Horler becomes Quantcast’s first COO
Quantcast, which describes itself as “the world’s largest AI-driven audience behaviour platform for the open internet”, has announced the appointment of Rob Horler to the newly-created role of chief operating officer effective. His responsibilities will include oversight and leadership of global commercial operations, including the sales and services organisation, as the company prepares for its next phase of growth.

Based in Quantcast’s New York office, he will report to CEO and founder Konrad Feldman and will serve on the company’s Executive Leadership team, and join Quantcast’s board of directors.

Horler has served as a senior executive in multiple roles across the Dentsu Aegis Network for over 19 years. Most recently, he served as CEO of Dentsu Aegis US, which grew significantly under his leadership, doubling its business through a combination of new clients and mergers and acquisitions, with a particular focus on scaling its data and technology capabilities. Dentsu Aegis US acquired seven US-based companies during 2016, including Accordant, Cardinal Path and Merkle.

Prior to his Dentsu Aegis US CEO appointment in 2015, Horler was CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Northern Europe and CEO of Aegis Media UK. In 2004, he founded Difiiniti, which became one of the largest standalone digital planning and buying companies in the UK, before becoming part of the iProspect network in 2009. He originally joined the Dentsu Aegis Network as managing partner for Carat Interactive in 2000.

“Rob is that rare combination of someone who is both strategic and technical,” said Feldman. “In a career that spans over 25 years, he deeply understands how technology has been disrupting marketing and the growth challenges facing brands. Given his wealth of hands-on experience advising clients, managing large scale global organisations and developing talent and teams, I’m thrilled to have him join Quantcast so we can further our mission to help brands grow in the AI era.”

Horler said: “While some may dismiss it as a buzzword, AI will be the most important and disruptive technology of the 21st century. It will transform every customer experience, every company and every industry. I’m excited to join the team and help the marketing ecosystem harness the power of machine learning to inspire human learning.”

GroupM invests in Theakstone and George
GroupM, the media investment group of WPP, has appointed Nick Theakstone to the new role of global chief investment officer. He will be based in London and New York, reporting to GroupM Global CEO, Kelly Clark. Johan Boserup continues as GroupM’s global head of trading, reporting to Theakstone.

Theakstone will oversee all aspects of GroupM’s global media investments, trading activities and commercial partnerships, which encompassed $108.2bn (£80.2bn) in client billings in 2016 (according to RECMA). He will develop strategies to ensure the benefits of GroupM’s scale continue to deliver advantages to clients as trading becomes more data-driven and technology-enabled.

Theakstone was most recently GroupM’s UK CEO, a position he held for 10 years, during which GroupM UK quadrupled in size and remained the UK’s number one agency group by size.

Succeeding Theakstone as GroupM’s UK CEO is Tom George, who was most recently MEC’s chairman for UK and Northern Europe, and global head of business development. Prior to that, he was MEC’s UK CEO from 2005 to 2011. During his tenure in these roles, MEC also quadrupled in size and moved from 14th to 3rd in the UK industry rankings. George will now oversee all GroupM’s businesses in the UK, reporting to GroupM EMEA CEO Dominic Grainger.

“I’m delighted that Nick and Tom will take on these important roles for GroupM,” said Clark. “They are exceptional leaders, focused on creating advantage for clients and motivating opportunities for our people. Nick and Johan and their talented team will take our expanded investment operations to new heights, and I know Tom and our agencies will continue to build our successful UK business.”

Games heavyweight Katkoff takes up Angry Birds product role
Michail Katkoff has joined Angry Birds producer Rovio Entertainment as product management director. Rovio said that Katkoff, who previously held senior roles at Supercell and Zynga, will take a key role in the development of its next big hit. He will also work with studio heads and product managers to establish principles for efficient product management across the company.

Katkoff started out in 2010 as a product manager at Digital Chocolate’s Helsinki studio, and founded the respected ‘Deconstructor of Fun’ blog back in 2011. The blog provides in-depth analysis of the major free-to-play games and deconstructs the elements that make them successful. It has grown into a knowledge-sharing platform for senior product managers to share their views publicly and is read by tens of thousands of readers monthly.

Inskin promotes internally to sustain recent growth
After a busy 2017 in which Inskin Media successfully launched its programmatic platform, extended its product line, drove a significant increase in international activity, and completed an extensive rebrand, the company has announced three changes to its senior management team.

Fran Cowan has been promoted from marketing director to chief marketing officer. Cowan has been with Inskin since 2012. In her new role, she has responsibility for leading brand strategy, global marketing, brand management and marketing technology.

“In such a competitive industry, it is crucial to give full attention to brand development, marketing and reputation management,” said Inskin CEO Hugo Drayton. “Fran has been at the very heart of our internal and external communications, helping to position Inskin in its markets. We are delighted to welcome Fran to Inskin’s senior management team, to help shape and drive the future of the company.”

Inskin’s multiple recent technology developments, including a new range of booking and targeting options, have triggered a restructure of the technology team, with Richard Davidson, formerly director of technical operations, promoted to the role of group technology director.

During his nine years at Inskin, Davidson has contributed significantly to the company’s success, implementing technology to facilitate and streamline creative production and delivery of campaigns, and leading the development of Inskin’s products to deliver the best user experience. Going forward, he will focus increasingly on delivering Inskin’s technology strategy, globally, as well as all aspects of campaign delivery and support.

Reda Borchardt, Inskin’s CTO, continues to hold overall strategic responsibility for technology, but is increasingly focused on new opportunities and the evolution of Inskin’s automated platforms and operations.

Finally, Inskin has appointed Mark Hine, former CFO at Fortius Group, as chief financial officer. He will be responsible for strategic and operational financial decisions, globally, and for leading Inskin’s finance team.

Dominic Trigg takes up CRO role at Captify
Search intelligence firm Captify has appointed Dominic Trigg as chief revenue officer to steer aggressive revenue growth across the EU, US and expansion into new territories. Trigg will report to Captify CEO, Dominic Joseph.

Following record year-on-year growth of 134 per cent for Captify in 2017 and its recent expansion into the Spanish market, Trigg is tasked with continuing the steep growth trajectory by streamlining advertising and insights solutions and unifying global sales, client strategy and marketing teams. He will also be responsible for commercial partnerships and the commercialisation of Captify’s Technology.

He joins Captify with over 20 years’ industry experience and proven success in building international ad tech businesses such as Rocket Fuel, OpenX, Trade Doubler, Yahoo and Microsoft. Trigg is most widely accredited for success during Rocket Fuel’s peak where international teams were credited with some of the fastest growth rates and revenues of around $100m across nine global markets. 

Trigg said: “The industry has woken up to differentiated ad tech solutions. Captify’s ability to reveal the truth about global consumer behaviour derived from the honesty of search, matched with the ability to use unbiased insights to power decisions globally for planning, media activation and Measurement, is truly unique…I’m thrilled to join co-founders, Dom, Adam and the wider Captify leadership team as we take the current business model and blow up the scale of the business to fulfil its global ambition.”

Pocket Media hires Ta for sales and internal training roles
Mobile media agency Pocket Media has appointed Keith Ta as its new head of sales.
Ta brings to the role experience in sales and management posts at Widespace, Media Talent Match and Ligatus. In addition to sales, he will also act as an internal coach and trainer at the company, and will be responsible for implementing Agile management processes.
Pocket Media specialises in mobile display and video advertising. Based in Amsterdam, the company also has offices in New York, Singapore and Tel Aviv, and operates worldwide in more than 180 countries.

Product and marketing hires for Stash
US savings and investment platform Stash has appointed Sudev Balakrishnan as chief product officer. He will be responsible for leading product strategy, execution, product design and user research. Prior to joining Stash, he served as SVP product and a member of the executive team at Grubhub, and before that, he was vice president of product for XO Group’s commerce and registry business. He has also held key leadership roles at Bluefly, BT London, Redback Networks and Motorola.

Balakrishnan holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College; a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Victoria in Canada; and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur.

The company has also named Will Ellison as it’s new VP marketing. He will be responsible for content marketing, customer engagement and retention, social media marketing, community education and search and app store optimization.

A marketing executive with 20 years of direct and digital marketing experience across myriad high profile consumer brands, Ellison has a proven track record of building and managing teams from start-up to fully-functioning and revenue-producing business units.

Ellison served most recently as VP, consumer experience at Sharecare. Prior experience includes management roles at Dealnews, Disney Interactive and Kaboose. He began his career with eight years at Publishers Clearing House, where he helped launch and oversee the company’s online division. Ellison holds a B.S. in Marketing and Business Management from Cornell University.