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OOH Today’s Champion – Glyn Williams

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OOH Today highlights a Champion of OOH featuring people from every facet of Outdoor Advertising.  We will share the faces and stories behind the names about those who add personal touches while Championing OOH as a medium.  Human contact is still an important part of Out Of Home where the people behind a company, are as important as the company itself.  We will introduce one every day.

Let’s meet, Glyn Williams, Media Director at Rapport Los Angeles, has 15 years experience working in OOH. Glyn has Bachelors Degree in English and Communications from Hope College. OOH Today’s Publisher, William (Bill) Board met with Glyn to his OOH life. gly williams shirt photo (2)

BB: Glyn how did you start in OOH?

GW:  Coming out of college I wanted to be a writer and a journalist.  I got a job writing about auto racing for a website in Chicago in the early 2000s. This is where I met Mike Rolfes. While there, I found myself less interested in writing and more interested in project management work for the website, such as spearheading the creation of their fantasy auto racing game, etc. When the dotcom bubble burst in the summer of ‘02 the website closed. I was out of a job. I didn’t know what direction I’d take. Mike asked, if I ever thought about working in advertising media. Mike knew a guy named Jack (Sullivan) at a company called Starcom. Mike, Jack, and I met at a bar at 10pm on a Sunday night. We talked  baseball, movies, and swapped Chicago stories. Three pitchers of beer later, Jack asked me when I could start. I had no idea what the company did, but said I could start any time! He told me to come in the next morning to meet with two people Carol Leinweber and Donna Baum. If they gave me a thumbs up, I’d get the job. Even after accepting the job, I still had absolutely no idea what I would be doing. I started work the following week.

BB: That’s an inauspicious start Glyn. You are nearly a lifer with 15 years.  What made you stay?

The people. The work. The media. From day one when I began working under Annie Meyer, I met people like Phil Donahue, Dave Turman, Bill Roman, Laura (Yepez) Wright and people on the sales side like Ed Carfagnini, Tom Alt, Bob Johns, Ned Ross, Marc Miller, Bob Wolf, Rae Aylesworth, and others. I felt this was a really smart, fun, interesting group of people with a different kind of work friendship I had never witnessed before. OOH people have a special bond. I have always enjoyed that.

Additionally, I have always found the work itself to be truly interesting and never a dull moment. I am not wired to come into work and do the same thing every day over and over again. I get bored too easily! I enjoy all of it – building plans and negotiating the buys, working with media owners to solve problems, thinking of the big ideas that make a client say “wow”, and now in my career managing a team of people who are learning about the media and developing the same excitement I did long ago. Finally, I do believe in OOH as one of the most powerful and effective media on the planet. I’ve never been a good enough salesman – or actor! – to tout OOH if I didn’t believe in it.

BB: Love the Passion, so what have you done in OOH your are most proud and makes you a Champion of OOH Today?

GW: I think it’s been the body of work as a whole – challenging the status quo, not accepting “that’s the way things have always been done,” relationship building, and driving growth. I’ve developed a reputation for getting things done by getting clients what they want while trying to be fair to the media owners. In every position I’ve worked at every agency I’ve been fortunate enough to show billings growth and that’s come from knowing how to get the clients what they need and surrounding myself with great people to help deliver.

BB: Thinking of all the plans you have delivered, tell us about your ‘Ah HA! Moment’.

GW: I know this “Ah Ha!” moment well and speak of it often. In the fall of 2010 I was a Manager at Kinetic, buying the South and East Regions for MillerCoors. At this point I had spent nearly all of my OOH career working on beer – Miller at Starcom, then Coors and ultimately MillerCoors at Kinetic so I was starting to get restless to do something different. I was coming into work every day staring blankly at my to-do list: #25 showing posters Wichita Falls. #25 showing posters Panama City. #25 showing bulletins Houston. And on and on and on… With complete respect to my clients, coworkers, and Kinetic’s leadership I started to dread coming into work. I was approaching 35 and felt I was going nowhere. Then I read an article in the November 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine entitled “The Future of Advertising” that opened my eyes. Specifically, a line in that article jumped off the page and punched me in the face. Brad Jakeman, then CMO of Activision said “The irony is there have never been more ways to reach people but it’s never been harder to connect with people.”  Wow. I re-read that article three times. So simple of course but most Ah Ha moments are. I immediately wanted that to be my professional mission – finding ways to stop just reaching consumers and start connecting with them. I try to incorporate this approach into every plan I can.

BB:  Glad you brought up the Fast Company article about the future. What is the future of OOH?  Any predictions for the future of OOH?

GW: We’re going to see the industry’s use of mobile data help us build smarter media buys for our clients that better ensure we’re in the right moments and places to connect with the audience. We’re going to provide post buy attribution to prove to skeptics that the media works. There is no way that 15 years ago any of us would have anticipated that someday we’d be able to tell if people exposed to the OOH then watched a certain show on TV or took action on their phone. And we’re absolutely going to see clients challenge the entire industry to leverage programmatic DOOH buying to go to market faster and better. But we have to be sure we stay true to OOH’s core principles and don’t just think programmatic, digital, and better data will solve every problem and fit every client’s needs.

BB: Speaking of core principles, who helped you shape yours? Who do you credit providing significant influence in your OOH career?

GW: I have been very lucky to work with Jack Sullivan, Maureen McCloskey, David Krupp, and Mike Cooper, who are four of the best in the business. They challenged, guided, and gave me great opportunities to succeed. Jack gave me my first job. Maureen helped hone my client management skills. David taught me to think more strategically and took chances on me when I didn’t always deserve them.  Mike Cooper is perhaps the most inspiring person I have ever worked for and is truly on the forefront of making all of us think differently about the media.

BB: Let’s think different about media then; take this magic wand. Change 3 things in OOH Industry today.

GW: First, we must find ways to do the tactical side of what we’re doing faster and easier. In days past, we had at least 2 weeks to deliver a plan. Nearly every client gave direction to buy with 4-6 months prior to a start. There had always been (last) minute buys but they were anomalies. Today, we often have 1-2 weeks to deliver a tactical plan and many of the plans are about 6-8 weeks prior to the start if not shorter lead times. Because every client is so last minute, that has collapsed all the turnaround times. It takes too long for the reps to provide avails, for us to review and pick our boards, place inventory on hold, gather specs, etc. A data based approach helps with this but it doesn’t solve all the problems until we open more dialogue and transparency between the locations the media owners want to sell and the inventory we want to buy.

Second, we should ban the word vendor. A vendor seems like a guy selling meat on a stick at a carnival or an ad on a stick. Agencies are buying media and impressions. Media owners (and media partners) are selling us media and impressions. We have to live and breathe that type of partner oriented relationship.

Third, we have to stop getting in our own way. The path to significant growth will come when the currency of our industry becomes audience first, placement second. We can’t talk to our clients about buying OOH as an audience as long as we still have media owners selling media that is non audited or still using DECs. Everyone in the industry – agencies, media owner leadership, and sales reps – have to get on board with data and measurement as the primary selling point while then selling their own media in their own ways. Placement will always matter, that won’t change. We have to still get clients excited about doing a 3D build on a bulletin that had a long head on read or buying the biggest wall in the market. But if we rely on visuals and creative driven buys alone we will always be chasing not leading and reliant upon the creative teams to include OOH if they feel like it.

Thank you Glyn.  Check out Glyn’s LinkedIn connection-

Contact- Glyn.Williams@rapportww.com

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