Industry Profile: TVSquared CEO and founder Calum Smeaton

11 August 2020

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

This week we speak to TVSquared CEO and founder Calum Smeaton.

Time at the company: 
Eight years.

How would you describe what the company does?
TVSquared provides a single, unified platform for measuring impressions, reach and outcomes across linear and digital TV anywhere in the world.

What do you do day-to-day?
I believe that CEOs need to be accessible and on-the-ground. Pre-travel bans, that meant travelling frequently between our six offices to be a resource to all of my employees (and to learn from them), and to meet regularly with our partners and clients. The TV advertising space is evolving rapidly, so I want to hear firsthand how our platform is being used and what we can do to stay one-step ahead our clients’ needs.

Define your job in one word:

I got into advertising because:
I spent decades in fintech, where real-time data and analytics were the cornerstone of everything. When I found out that brands were spending large sums of money on TV advertising without knowing how, when and where it was driving business outcomes, I knew I could add value and fill that gap in the market with a fast, accurate way to prove campaign performance.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
When you’re trying to disrupt an industry, one of the biggest challenges is putting in the time and having the patience to change long-standing beliefs. When we first started TVSquared, it was proving to advertisers that you could measure and optimize TV like digital. I think we’ve successfully done that with brands and agencies. Networks and publishers have also come around in the last few years to embrace more transparency and provide proof of performance at scale.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
TV now spans a multitude of devices and platforms, and it can be overwhelming for advertisers to find that right video mix. But it’s also a chance to reach audiences in a very impactful, performance-driven way, so it shouldn’t be shied away from. I’ve been quoted far too often saying that fragmentation isn’t a challenge, it’s an opportunity! With TVSquared, you can see the performance of TV – whether it’s linear, OTT, BVOD or a combination of them – from a single platform that can take in data of any type, works in any country in the world and operates to the highest degree of security and privacy.

Previous industry-related companies you have worked at:
When I started TVSquared in 2012, I was new to the advertising space. My career started at Marconi Simulation, where I was writing software, and transitioned into a two-year joint research project between Cambridge, Heriot Watt and Strathclyde. I then founded Orbital Software in my mid-20s, when I became the youngest person to list a company on the London Stock Exchange at the time. From there, I spent time in Silicon Valley before running Sumerian, a provider of big data analytics for investment banks.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
Derek Gray was a great mentor of mine in the early/mid part of my career. He was the global head of sales at Adobe and taught me all about management and the software industry from a sales perspective.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
A big part of my role has been expanding TVSquared globally. We now have six offices on four continents and thousands of brands, agencies, networks and publishers as clients. To successfully “go global,” it’s so important to keep an open mind to the nuances, challenges and opportunities that come with each new market. And, of course, it’s critical to be on the ground. If you want to grow, the CEO has to be committed to that.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Sailing and kite-surfing.

My mantra is:
Be hands-on and hold yourself to the same high standards you expect from your team.

My favourite advert is:
The Budweiser Super Bowl ads are always amazing for surprising viewers in relatable and entertaining ways. Budweiser’s Tiny Dancer ad, which appeared during the 2011 Super Bowl, always stands out. It appeals to my sense of humour and love of piano bars.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Apple Music.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I’ve sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

In five years' time I'll be:
Hopefully, I’ll have more time to sail, kite-surf and sit on the beach! But for TVSquared, we’ll continue to evolve our offerings in line with the changing needs of advertisers across the globe.


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