Interviews

Declan Reddington

Founder of Adconnection

Creativebrief

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Career to date:

2009 - Fetch (Co-founder)
2001 - Adconnection (Founder)
1998 - Dennis Publishing (Media Sales Executive)

 

Creativebrief: As Founder of Adconnection what is your primary focus?

Declan Reddington: To create and nurture a vibrant, exciting and growing media agency with great culture, producing excellent work for our clients that delivers results and growth.

Creativebrief: Please share a para on your career to date – specifically talking us through the high points

Declan Reddington: My first job in media was on the media owner side at Romsey Publishing and then at Dennis Publishing selling advertising. I did this for about three years and having always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I decided to take the plunge and start my own business.

I started Adconnection at aged 28 with no previous agency experience. It was tough and I didn’t realise all the components needed to run an agency – media owner recognition and commission, credit, client services etc. It was a steep learning curve. But this lack of knowledge was also an advantage. I had no fear or precedent for how to or how not to do things. I just knew the principles of providing the best service and building a team to create that. We started with a few small clients and hired some really good people. The agency then got to the stage where we needed more senior network agency experience, I hired Catherine Becker to join me in 2006 to help run the agency. In 2007 and 2009 we featured in the Sunday Times top 100 fastest growing companies. Our award winning work has continued into this year with our 2014 Marketing Week Award for Data Strategy, Omnichannel. Building up our digital offering has also been a high point as has increasing our talent base to include analytics and optimisation.

Four years ago I founded Fetch, a mobile marketing agency with James Connelly. This business has grown exponentially to be a leading global mobile agency, reaching 100 people split across London, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Berlin.

I am also a shareholder and sit on the board of Lovestruck, an online dating business.

Creativebrief: What’s unique about your agency / business?

Declan Reddington: We are very different from the networks and independents by offering a bespoke line-by-line service relevant to each client. We don’t have agency deals, booking deadlines or penalties for moving activity. We have real time monitoring with deals set up to move activity quickly into the channels that are working to maximise ROI. We deliver unique, innovative and standout solutions that work and deliver growth, and are remunerated based on that success.

“Wearable media, social media and user generated content will make it harder for brands to infiltrate”

 

Creativebrief: What has been your agency’s best work in the last year?​​​​​

Declan Reddington: I’m particularly proud of our growth for Maplin, having tested TV regionally in 2013, then rolled out nationally in 2014. Importantly we combined the launch with a harmonised social media presence to make it interactive and get people talking. We had live tweets going out in football matches in which our ads appeared. This delivered record traffic to the website and huge jumps in sales.

I am also proud of our work for Lovestruck, delivering a cut through brand presence versus considerably higher spending competition through a bespoke C4 campaign (winning us this year’s award) combined with harmonised online and mobile campaigns.

 

Creativebrief: Who are the people new to you (either within your business or externally) who have particularly impressed you in the last twelve months?​​​

Declan Reddington: Taking on Ronny Raichura with a whole new skill set in digital has been a vital component of our growth. He has been at the network agencies in the UK, but also worked at the technology companies, Marin and Kenshoo, so understands optimisation and attribution models in detail.

We have also taken on Steve Kershaw as Non-Exec Director who was previously been New Business Director at BBH and gives a great outside perspective of the business including how to grow to meet and exceed the needs of our clients.

Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

Declan Reddington: The BA posters with the child following a live plane were a great mix of technology and media insight. The live work from the government to make people aware of the risks when using mobile phones while driving, by actually texting people in cinemas then showing a car crash live on screen, was also great.

 

Creativebrief: How do you stay in-touch with the industry’s best work and culturally relevant news?

Declan Reddington: Mainly online and through Twitter. Sites like Brand Republic, The Drum, industry blogs, LinkedIn articles, Wired.

Creativebrief: What do you think are going to be the main challenges for agencies in the next two years?

Declan Reddington: The huge variety of skill sets needed in a media agency (there are 20-40 different digital channels alone) knowing which to prioritise and how to do the best job without being too time consuming.

Agencies are also going to find the movement to commoditised buying a real challenge, as well as future proofing against the faster changes in technology and new media.

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next five years?

Declan Reddington: Many of the core principles will always be the same – reaching people where they are, through relevant and in engaging ways. But the media channels will be vastly different. Wearable media, social media and user generated content will make it harder for brands to infiltrate. The new media owners could be Lady Gaga and Stephen Fry, who have more followers and more reach than many TV programmes and press titles.

The trading platforms and the more electronic way media is being bought means that there will be more of a level playing field for brands, agencies and publishers. Traditionally speaking, if you were a big agency, you commanded a better deal. Now there are a long tail of publishers online and offline that we can access through RTB so they have a chance of getting on the schedule. It is the smart agencies rather than the ones with scale that will win in this more democratised arena. Similarly clients don’t need the biggest budgets to get the best deals, just the smartest agencies with the optimisation experts and those willing to innovate and differentiate to stand out.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Do you think there is a better/more modern way?

Declan Reddington: It is a very false view of how your future agency relationship will unfold, as you tend to respond to the brief with much less collaboration than would normally come from an on-going relationship. It is also very time consuming with lots of stages and therefore a huge investment. A much better approach would be to understand how we would go about answering a brief, by working with a client rather than giving our work away for free. Client references are also ideal as that is a true reflection of us as an agency and how we deliver.

“Similarly clients don’t need the biggest budgets to get the best deals, just the smartest agencies with the optimisation experts and those willing to innovate and differentiate to stand out”

 

Creativebrief: In what ways do you think the industry can change for the better?​

Declan Reddington: It is already becoming so much more accountable, with attribution modelling of online and offline channels, we can see the full customer journey and the effect of each channel allowing us to understand what is working. The more we can do this and demonstrate the value of advertising investment to the finance director of the client and their board, the more grown up the industry will become. That said, we still need to retain the fun and social side of the business. We will never pay the salaries of the big city institutions, but if we can enjoy what we do, work with the best and most exciting people and have a good work life balance that would be great. Another key thing is to ensure we maintain close ties with our colleagues in other marketing service industries. At Adconnection we work hard to ensure that we are close to the creative agency partners – not just the account directors but the actual creatives, and the same with the PR and promotional teams. That way we can be collaborative and work well together to deliver a total communication solution.

Creativebrief: What’s the next big thing for Adconnection?

Declan Reddington: We are constantly at the forefront of media innovation. We host an innovations day for media owners every year where they have five minutes to present a brand new innovation not released to market. The event in May delivered at least four media firsts for our clients, including a new tool that is capable of showing mobile and online ads at the same time as the TV ads were running.