TubeMogul's Phil Cowlishaw on going stateside

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 24 November 2016
Phil Cowlishaw

He spent five years at Ikon Sydney as head of technology before being poached for a VP strategy role at TubeMogul San Francisco. Phil Cowlishaw, who upped sticks with his now wife back in 2015, now works with clients to figure out exactly what matters to their business and how TubeMogul’ can help. While over in the US AdNews caught five with the Canberra native.

Q: You were leading Ikon’s tech proposition for more than five years before heading stateside, how has that role geared you up for what you are doing now?

PC: It's actually similar in the sense that I'm working directly with marketers and agencies partners on how automated software can make advertising simpler and more accountable.

Q: What types of roles externally do you mix the most with your job and internally, who is your right-hand man/woman?

PC: I am fortunate enough to be part of the product development and innovation that is allowing TubeMogul to demonstrate that programmatic is so much more than a media channel. TubeMogul has built software that can help brands and agencies automate ad planning and buying across all media types and channels.

As we continue to see market adoption of TubeMogul's software, research and analytics teams are more engaged than ever with us as a business.

Internally, I act as the liaison between sales, product and client services. I am lucky enough to work across the entire TubeMogul organisation with some of the smartest people in the industry. In the Australian market, my right hand man is Ash Cooper – seriously, he has made me look good for more years than I care to remember.

Q: How you describe the US adland industry and working culture?

PC: It's more like Australia than people think - hard-charging, quick-moving and blunt about results. The most exciting thing is that we're undergoing a significant change in the way that media is planned, bought and optimised. That shift is primarily driven out of technology companies based in the U.S. Rather than working out how to use other people’s concepts, I now get to be a part of designing the future of advertising,

Q: Issues such as media agency transparency have been again in the news lately. Do you feel glad to be out of the media agency world when you hear such stories?

PC: I don’t think this is a new story at all. I was an agency guy for over 10 years and loved every minute of the brilliant organisations I was a part of. We worked for our clients’ interests as their success was linked directly to ours. I think both agencies and brands appreciate TubeMogul's agnostic, buy-side approach. We don't own or arbitrage media, and fees are totally transparent. We give brands and agencies a common operating system.

Q: What are the glaring/main differences between the US and Australian sides of the industry?

PC: It’s true what they say, everything’s bigger in the US, there is more of everything here, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. TV is more complex here, with inventory owned by local broadcasters, dozens of cable companies, resellers and national networks. In part, that made the advent of programmatic TV easier. Having worked on a couple of Australian elections during my time at IKON, I would have to say political advertising in the USA is certainly unique.

Q: What’s the biggest highlight of your VP strategy role and what is your greatest challenge ahead?

PC: In my first 18 months, we have developed a screen-agnostic cross-screen tool that brings together planning and buying into one software platform. We have integrated social, built a workflow that allows for more dynamic TV allocation and integrated some of the most powerful data sets in advertising. Most important, we continue to build software that makes advertising simple.

Q: A lot the new kids breaking into the media and advertising role are chasing the sought after ‘strategy’ job titles. What tips would you give to those eyeing a role like yours?

PC: Strategy is about taking things a step further - more than just being an expert in technology, but understanding exactly what a client needs to leverage technology to drive the results that matter to a client's business. For every Dumb Ways to Die (I’ve been away for 18 months!), there are Vinomofos expertly executing strategy that may not place at Cannes, but are just as effective and driving true and sustainable business growth for their brand.

Q: What’s the biggest highlight of your VP strategy role and what is your greatest challenge ahead?

PC: In my first 18 months, we have developed a screen-agnostic cross-screen tool that brings together planning and buying into one software platform. We have integrated social, built a workflow that allows for more dynamic TV allocation and integrated some of the most powerful data sets in advertising. Most important, we continue to build software that makes advertising simple.

Earlier this month Adobe has announced it’s set to acquire TubeMogul in a deal worth $540 million net of debt and cash.

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