Twitter's strategic hire is a reminder of the constant evolution in media land

Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week

This week's column was inspired by Nigel Clarkson, the former outdoor trailblazer now leading the mobile ad space as the commercial director of Weve.

Picture the scene. Frock on, duster out, Clarkson was having a bit of a spring clean this Easter when he stumbled across a Media Week magazine from early 2007. The ever-excitable commercial chief felt compelled to phone in what he’d found, and I’m glad he did.

Fru Hazlitt was still at Virgin Radio, Jonathan Allan had just taken over as the managing director of OMD, and ITV was preparing to launch the UK’s first free terrestrial video-on-demand service, heralded by some as "the end of primetime".

In the same issue, Stuart Taylor was announcing a step into a brave new world for The Guardian with ambitious plans to start selling print and digital ads together. Bruce Daisley was the head of agency sales at Emap (then a sprawling consumer and business-to-business group), while Mark Middlemas still had hair.

There was no mention of Facebook or Twitter, but Friends Reunited was having something of a renaissance following its £120 million acquisition by ITV – ouch!

Things move quickly in media. To stay at the top of the game, it is not only company models that need to shift with the times. The ability for leaders to adapt is crucial.

The surprise poaching of PHD’s David Wilding last week to the new role of director of planning at Twitter feels like one of those seminal moments. It follows Steve Hatch moving from MEC to Facebook and confirms just how serious the tech giants have become about further unlocking UK marketing spend.  

It is not only company models that need to shift with the times. The ability for leaders to adapt is crucial

Twitter is on an all-out offensive to develop its collaborative and strategic credentials. Remember, targets are for ad revenues to near £100 million this year. Daisley, its UK managing director, says: "We’re seeing a lot of brands use Twitter as a ‘glue’ that ties various strands together – David will be helping them get the best value from that approach."

Sky’s #WatchOnSky and ITV’s Twitter Amplify deal are clear signs of intent. Planned activity around major events is the focus. And creating strategic partnerships is something Wilding knows something about.

The man who most recently brought us TV’s first Lego ad break says he was bowled over by the potential of Twitter and the energy of its expanding UK team.

All of which is sure to sound incredibly dated when Clarkson provides another recap come 2020.


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