With 12 years’ experience in the industry, we chatted to Carl Connaughton, OMD UK’s Head of AV Investment, to hear about the changes he’s seen since joining OMD UK and his top tips for those just starting out.
Hi Carl – thank you for your time. Please can you explain what your role entails exactly?
I was recently asked this question by my 5 year old nephew and settled on; I show people things that they might like to buy. To which my mum intervened and told him I made adverts. So after 12 years, it was nice to know my mum still has no idea.
What I really do is have the pleasure of running the best department in the agency; bringing to life the comms ideas by taking them to market and trying to stretch the possibilities for all of our clients, so that we can really earn them a greater share of life. There might be a bit of Excel involved. Maybe.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in AV since you started at OMD UK?
Well for a start I think if I had used the term AV in in 2003 I would have got a few funny looks… The OMD Digital team consisted of five people and YouTube was still but a pipe dream for a few window gazing PayPal employees – so that probably gives you a good idea of the evolution we have seen in the market.
That being said, much has changed, but much has stayed the same. The majority of viewing is still to the main TV set and the linear schedule, and Britain’s Got Talent is as popular now as Pop Idol was in its heyday. It is however impossible to ignore the digitisation of the TV industry. Just look at how importantly BT and Sky value the current war on owning the broadband pipe into your home. That tussle is turning the TV-set in the corner of the lounge into a magic black box that provides boxsets at the click of a button.
Technology is changing the way people think about TV and slowly the way they consume it. As you would expect, it is the younger, tech-savvy consumers who are adopting these behaviours first and we very much see it as our job to help our clients navigate this exciting but ever more complex world.
What is the biggest disruptor in this space?
You want me to say Netflix don’t you? It isn’t. Not directly anyway. I have already touched on it; it is the technology that facilitates the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime et al to be available on the humble TV-set. Over 50% of Sky’s customers are now able to access their full On-Demand service including their library of movies and TV boxsets. To put that into perspective, that is nearly 2 million more than the last publicly released Netflix subscriptions figure for the UK. These same homes have full access to the catch-up TV players including the BBC iPlayer. Add to that some 3 million Virgin Media connected homes, and this is On-Demand at scale and, in these cases, On-Demand with little or no ad model. As we have seen with the adoption of DVRs (Sky+) over the last 13 years, it is inevitable that the longer people own a new bit of kit, the more comfortable they are using it. So in this case, we are talking about the slow erosion of linear viewing as consumers get to grips with the power at their fingertips.
What excites you most about your job?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the industry?
We are a people industry and it is important to remember that first and foremost clients buy an agency’s people. So whilst it is not necessary to have studied advertising or media to get a job in an agency, it is necessary to have determination, fantastic communication skills and a passion for the communications world.