Joinville Industry Interview: Andy Vassilev, Head of Campaign Planning and Operations, One Central Point

In our "Meet a Media Planner" series, we get to know the pros behind search and media planning. In this edition, we talk with Andy Vassilev from One Central Point in London. Andy is now the Head of Campaign Planning and Operations. With more than 10 years experience in marketing, CRM and strategic planning, he leads ateam and supervises daily operations for advertising agency clients, print media and other company clients." In April 2014, we invited Andy to share his insights and experiences in media planning and digital marketing with us.

Q: How did you get into media planning?

A: Since the day I started my career in the advertising industry more than 10 years ago, I have been constantly looking for challenge and dynamism in my work. I have explored the sides of account management and strategy, but found most of what I was looking for in the media planning department. It is an area that one can easily fall into a routine and, unfortunately, this is something we constantly observe in the contemporary media agency landscape. However, the media space is developing relentlessly with sometimes rapid and abrupt changes. People are not as loyal to a single medium as they used to be some 20 years ago: if one fails to drive user engagement, the user is presented with huge scope of alternatives that can fill the void. Managing advertising across such dynamic and ever changing environment is one of the main drivers for my choice of speciality.

Q: What do you like most about your job in media planning?

A: The heightened pace, the light-speed decisions, the constant Everests we need to climb – these are the main stimuli that make my job interesting and appealing. The rapidly changing landscape, the constant influx of new technologies and the satisfaction of making the informed and correct decision which translates into a successful campaign, is what keeps me on the tip of my toes, gives me countless sleepless nights and fuels the desire to learn and do more. The people that I encounter, the team that I work with, make a huge contribution to the pleasure I take in my daily work life.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in your work?

A: Due to the nature of digital media it is a constant challenge to work in this environment. On one side you have the young and really technologically minded agency media planners who need constant guidance in the appropriation of every new and cutting edge development in the area. And on the other there is the persistent urge to change and adapt to the fast moving environment that is digital media. It is not easy to make someone trust you that your decisions are not driven by profit margins or media commissions, but by the benefits the client will receive from certain placements, or by planning a campaign in a suggested fashion.

Q: Are there any industry trends and technologies that you find exciting that might help your clients?

A: This is a very challenging question. My opinion is that it is not the technology itself, but the people behind it that make the difference. You can be equipped and provided with the latest screams in the ad technology landscape, but unless you actually know how to make it work towards the goals and the ideas of the clients, you will fail. I am a strong believer in the automation processes in the digital media landscape, but this should not exclude the human factor. No matter how sophisticated decision engine you have integrated within the technology, you still need a person to guide it.

Q: Do you expect increasing spending on online media this year (display, search, mobile, social or something else)?

A: It is inevitable. We have seen constant increase in the digital ad spend in the last years. Moreover, the development of new technologies fuels this increase as we see quick adoption and experimenting across the tech space. This increase in spent is also driven by the fact that digital marketing is still the most adaptable and easy to respond to rapid changes in the marketing strategy with more and more people solely relying on digital channels to receive news and entertainment. Social media has been on a constant rise, but I believe that it has reached a point where wiser decisions must be implemented for it to work in the benefit of both the advertiser and the consumer. Mobile and especially rich media on mobile devices and tablets has a potential to become a leading tendency. With the successful development and deployment of HTML 5 across multiple platforms we can see a resurfacing of new style, more interactive and far more attractive mobile ads. Connected TV is something on the rise and I will be very intrigued to see what trajectory it will have across Europe. Native and content centric campaigns have been a topic on the rise lately too. The idea of brand engagement with the users without taking them away from their preferred media space is something that could be the focal point of digital marketers in the near future. We as a company are trying to make our way into the area of content creation and distribution.

Q: Multicultural /ethnic marketing has been a major marketing topic for years in the United States but not inside EMEA yet. Since you work both with mainstream campaigns and also ethnic ones, any insight about the differences?

A: Indeed, multicultural marketing is something that has been developed in the states since the middle of the century, starting from traditional print media titles targeted at different ethnic groups to the boom of digital media where users can be segmented not only by demographic parameters but by consumer behaviour habits and niche user groups can be precisely created. This is something relatively new across Europe. After the WW2 and its legacy it has been really morally difficult for the leading societies of Europe to consider ethnicity as a demographic indicator. Despite all this, marketers are slowly recognising the impact the ethnic groups and cultural preferences have over consumer behaviour and brand affinity and are slowly awakening to the idea of coherent multicultural marketing approach. I am really thrilled to be part of this process. As far as differences are concerned, the main one is the size of your audience. Once you get your head around the fact that your campaign is not designed to reach tens of millions of people you are all set. Now comes the part of tailoring your message towards your audience specificities, but there is a lot of research and psycho-demographic models to ensure you have made the right creative choices.

Q: Do your friends and family understand what you do on the job?

A: Absolutely not. I have to explain over and over again, and the non-understanding on their faces, has made me come up with the following line – whenever you see an ad on your favourite site and it makes you run to the nearest store to buy something – it might have been me who decided to place it there.
Written by Magic Man

Joinville is an advertising technology platform for multicultural advertising bought and sold in real-time between buyers and sellers.