Exec Seat: Q&A With ExoClick's Giles Hirst
ExoClick’s Giles Hirst is the consummate brand manager.
He’s a veteran at what he does and has given ExoClick the right (pardon the pun) click to make it resonate with current and potential customers.
Hirst joined the Barcelona-based online advertising company last year after helping lift adult brands and their properties into the top tiers.
We recently spoke with Hirst in this XBIZ World Executive Seat interview.
XBIZ: You’ve done a terrific job controlling the corporate and online image of the ExoClick brand in your first year as marketing and communications manager. Tell us about your background?
HIRST: Well thank you very much for noticing! But it’s not just me; it’s a team effort between myself, our designer and management.
I come from a marketing and PR background having worked in mainstream and adult for 25 years. In London, back in the 1990s, I managed the consumer department at a youth market specialist PR agency. I devised marketing and PR campaigns for brands including Stolichanya, Vodka, Martell Cognac, Kit Kat Chunky, Chupa Chups lollipops, Nescafe and various online start-ups.
In 2002 I moved to Barcelona and got the job of chief copywriter at Private Media Group. Then I launched, managed and marketed their gay movie lines and when the job of marketing director became free I applied and got the job. So I learned nearly every aspect of the adult business.
I was missing mobile, so I moved to Julia Dimambro’s Cherry Media in 2012 to be their marketing and business development director, and I launched their mainstream content and app business Seriously Fresh Media. Then in 2014, I moved into the world of traffic and digital advertising at ExoClick.
XBIZ: Why the move to ExoClick?
HIRST: I was looking for a new challenge and I really wanted to expand into tech. I saw the job advertised for marketing and communications manager and I really wanted that job; something in the back of my mind told me it was going to be the right-move and it has been!
XBIZ: You’ve worked in adult and mainstream. Is there a difference between the two?
HIRST: The product principles are the same in both adult and mainstream. You define your target audience, devise a product that fits with that audience, create a marketing story around that product, then communicate that story to your audience via marketing channels that they will read, see or hear.
The real difference between adult and mainstream are the trade shows. The adult industry is a close group of people, so everyone knows each other, making it easier to make deals, cross promotions, etc., whereas mainstream shows are a huge collection of people from many different industries so you have to be very targeted in who you want to meet and network with.
But ExoClick isn’t only an adult ad network; in fact over the last 12 months we have been growing the mainstream side of our business, which now accounts for a significant part of our revenue. We have also released several platform upgrades and products that mainstream ad networks have including big data statistics and analytic tools, our Android SDK for in-app advertising, our worldwide mobile carrier feature and our admin panel Android app that allows clients to have exactly the same experience as their desktop for controlling their campaigns from their mobile devices. The plus side is that our adult clients can benefit from these great features as well as targeting adult ads at mainstream traffic and vice versa.
XBIZ: What are some of your priorities at ExoClick in making sure the right message gets across?
HIRST: I communicate to the world what a great ad network we are and why. Our positioning is crucial to me, and I want to ensure that our brand and our platform stand out at the forefront of the industry. This involves promoting what ExoClick stands for across all marketing channels: innovation, quality and our prime objective, which is to continually help to increase our advertisers and publishers revenues with our platform updates/tweaks and giving clients the tools and therefore the power to achieve their goals.
My role is to create, develop, implement and communicate all of our business strategies. This covers a whole host of different angles from platform updates, new product launches, content marketing such as writing articles for our blog and news channels to provide insight and advice on how to get the best out of our platform, digital advertising facts and tips, interviews with key ExoClick team members and of course company growth and our global achievements.
I control and grow our corporate image via external press and media and via our own marketing channels including our website ExoClick.com, media kits, ad campaigns, social networks and email marketing. Additionally I co-ordinate promotional campaigns with our sales team and partners, investigate sponsorship opportunities, organize adult an mainstream trade shows and events and support those events with marketing materials. I also work with our HR team to help them reach out to recruit fresh talent.
XBIZ: What new and exciting announcements will ExoClick have in place going into the summer months?
HIRST: We have some exciting things coming up including the launch of our new API which opens up our platform to developers and introduces programmatic to all our clients.
We listen to client feedback all the time and our tech team is always working on new platform improvements so expect to see more features rolled out in the coming months. We are continuing to grow our mainstream business and will be attending the Russian Gaming Week show in Moscow, the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference and Affiliate Summit East in New York later this year. We are also expanding our team of ExoClickers and have several open positions, so check out our careers page if anyone out there wants to join our great team here in sunny Barcelona.
XBIZ: Who inspires you in the adult industry?
HIRST: There are too many to mention, but I must shout out to industry veterans Mara Epstein and XBIZ staff editor Bob Johnson for their continued hard work and showing that you can use your decades of experience to be a continued success and of course our CEO Benja for his determination and vision.
XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?
HIRST: The day kicks off typically with me downing my first coffee and checking emails. I quickly scan the adult and tech news to see if there is anything relevant to forward to the sales team. I check our social networks, post anything that’s relevant and then I go through my to-do list. There are fresh projects going on all the time and I work closely with our designer Marcelo to develop new visual ways of communicating our news and the sales team to support their marketing needs.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
HIRST: I produce music and remix tracks for various dance record labels under the name Ondagroove in my studio at home, check me out on iTunes!
XBIZ: How about weekend getaways?
HIRST: I have just moved to a sleepy little seaside fishing village outside of Barcelona. My place has a terrace that looks out over the beach so I chill out there. I get quite a few weekend visits from my friends who live in the city and I hang out at the local village bars and try to speak with them in Catalan (not very successfully).