Industry Profile: AdRoll MD, Ben Sharp

31 May 2016
Ben Sharp

Our Industry Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we head to Sydney to speak to AdRoll MD APAC, Ben Sharp ‘Sharpie’.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

Just over two years.

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

AdRoll helps it’s customers make the most of their first party data

In one sentence, what does your role involve?

Getting the most out of an awesome group of Sydney Rollers and ensuring we have the best and most positive presence in market.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?

We’ve had a huge 12 months. We’ve expanded our product offering (we’re now a full-funnel marketing solution), integrated with other technology providers, grown the local team, hit some pretty incredible revenue targets and thrown some seriously cool parties.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

It’s high-energy and ever changing.

Previous industry related (ad land/ad tech) companies you have worked at:

I was with Yahoo! for six years in the early 2000s. It was a whirlwind at the time - a disruptive and unknown media solution selling into agencies that knew about the same amount as us (not a lot). In late 2006 I partnered with Chris Janz and Netus (a local VC at the time) to start and build the Allure Media business which I worked in until the business was sold to Fairfax in 2012. During my hiatus, after leaving Allure I did a bunch of consultancy projects for businesses like Effective Measure and Vizury, and had the opportunity to invest in and join the board of Conversant Media - publishers of the leading online Australian sports community, The Roar.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?

Continuing to drive amazing success out of the growing group of APAC Rollers. Our business is innovating our product, and constantly evolving our approach to market - eg, we’re currently building out an SMB sales channel that will launch in July. The speed of change in our business and in our market is exciting, three years goes in a flash. I’m constantly being challenged in my role, and see a bunch of new opportunities we’ll be able to invest into over the coming years.

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

The big one is attribution. The conversation has started, largely thanks to the exciting discussion paper AdRoll and AdNews are about to launch and our clients are beginning to ask more and more questions, wanting to understand ‘life after last click’.

It’s encouraging that both clients and agencies understand what a critical issue this is to solve - but also the understanding that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ magic bullet. It’s a tough area of digital marketing, but one that our industry seems motivated to help solve for their clients.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

Seems crazy, but I love waking up at 4am, whether or not I’m cycling, running or surfing that morning. It’s a quiet time of the day, the rest of the house is asleep, and is a time of the day to help gather your thoughts for the day ahead.

Top networking tip:

Turn up at everything. If I think back to my early days at Yahoo! we turned up on mass to every industry event. Get to know everyone and anyone. It’s easy to start a conversation at a networking event and have an open mind and appreciation for all the different businesses and players in our space.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

Might now be cliche, but Sake. It’s convenient to my office in The Rocks and I can turn up, order my favourites or leave it to the chef to send me their best selection of the day.

My favourite advert is:

Eminem’s 2015 Chrysler Super Bowl ad.

My must-have gadget is:

My iPhone 6S Plus (I’ve just upgraded). That, and my Garmin vivo active GPS watch for all things exercise, which is of course linked to Stava.

My favourite media is:

Mobile - for convenience. But on the whole, it all depends on what content I’m consuming. If it’s Game of Thrones - it’s definitely my TV at home, at night with all the lights off and the volume pumping. News, social and everything other than a live game is usually done from my mobile. My laptop has now become a functional work tool, and my iPad is either a Kindle, or used to catchup on TV shows downloaded from iTunes when I’m travelling.

My favourite TV show is:

I can’t pick just one. These are a few of my favourites: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Veep, House of Cards and Masterchef.

The last book I read:

I’m currently reading Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of WW II. I’ve just completed Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg.

My mantra / philosophy is:

SAVAGE. It’s a term we’ve developed over the past couple of years at AdRoll, and describes a mindset we want our staff to embody. Having a sense of urgency, hungry to win new business, innovate how you do things and drive success for yourself and the team around you.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc because:

In 2001, it sounded fun working for Yahoo!. They had this cool boardroom table in the shape of the Yahoo! ‘Y’ which you tried to tuck into one of the folds or corners (would love to know where it is now). Ad tech moves so quickly, and it hugely exciting. It seems that adtech and media are now preferred destinations for a lot of uni leavers - more so than those wanting to go into professional services or banking than when I left school. There’s a bunch of reason, not just the earning potential, but the speed at which our industry operates.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Chasing a heap of fun outdoors, depending on the weather and conditions: cycling, surfing or skiing.

In five years' time I'll be:

Still driving my wife nuts with every different activity I want to do, and still just about as immature as my two sons - who are currently six and 10.

Define your job in one word:

SAVAGE.

What's your poison:

I don’t drink that often, but when I do, it’s always an Old Fashioned.

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