Young Guns: Blue 449 performance manager Oliver Duff

By AdNews | 12 July 2018

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today we speak to Blue 449 performance manager Oliver Duff.

How long have you been in the industry?

five years

Duration in current role/time at the company:

1.5 years

What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig?

I worked in the media department for a large advertising agency in London. A friend of mine recommended a media recruiter who put me forward to Blue 449.

Define your job in one word:


What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?

I had a small amount of exposure to SEM before starting my first media role, although I completely under estimated the depth of SEM, which is where I focused the first two years of my career in.
One of the first things my manager said to me was “it is easy to grasp but difficult to master” and I could not agree more.

How does the reality match up?

It is awesome, constantly learning and being tested with the ever-changing landscape of digital. No day is the same in an agency.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?

Blue 449 acts like an independent with the backing of a network; it is a great mix of doing great work without losing that agency culture. 

Blue 449 empowers employees to challenge the way we work.

My role is to develop and present best in class digital strategies in order to deliver on client targets and developing my team to do the same.

One of the great benefits about my role is that we get to see campaign results very quickly and it is satisfying to help clients grow as a direct result of the work that we do.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

There is always something to do. Digital media is constantly evolving with product changes and industry challenges that always make it exciting.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

A priority in digital might not be a priority for the client. Agencies can often get lost in the small details of media and not thinking about the bigger picture.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?

Analytics. Data, measurement and reporting is becoming increasingly important to clients, for not only media recommendations but also wider business decisions. Client and media data is extremely valuable and often underused.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?

Data and automation. We need to embrace being able to automate tasks that people used to spend hours actioning, it is about moving away from processes that a machine can do and moving towards recommending a strategy based on the data that you are collecting.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

Regulation. Whilst it is hugely important, it could strip away some of the advanced tactics that agencies can offer.

If we get to a point that takes away many of our measurement capabilities, it will become increasingly difficult to provide strategic recommendations.

Additionally, automation that take away control for simplicity. The giants are understandably tyring to simplify processes, which is great in some scenarios but also pose a threat to specialist roles.

Who's your right-hand person/who guides you day to day?

My direct manager, Owen Browne (performance director). He has provided solid guidance for the team and myself.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

Rachida Murray (head of performance), it will take some time but I would love to be head of a department at some stage of my career.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years and how do you plan on getting there?

In a more strategy role, without losing my product specialism

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

Accuracy of reporting and data. We are never going to be able to see the full picture, although we need to ensure the data is robust enough to inform recommendations moving forward.

Digital strategies should be informed by data so it is important to ensure that the signals are trustworthy and intelligent.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

Collaboration with my team and keeping in contact with old colleagues

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

I sat next to Mick Jagger on a flight when I was three years old

Favourite advert is:

Volvo Trucks - The Epic Split feat. Van Damme

What’s your personal motto?
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take

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

I’m a nerd

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

A farmer

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