Leigh Terry: Future Focus


In the lead up to 2016 Leigh Terry answers some pointed questions about the future media landscape:

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for your business in the next five years?

As it was in 2015 and will be in 2020. Growth. Whether that’s personal growth for the 1,000 staff across AU and NZ, or driving business growth across our client base. If we are not making a difference to both stakeholders we will become irrelevant – and in such a highly competitive environment that leads to systemic decline and both parties leaving. That simply won’t happen.

The opportunity is adding business value beyond the efficient and effective deployment of advertising campaigns. Media companies to me have two core USPs; leverage of our combined client scale (be that with media owners, content producers, rights holders and technology companies) to create more than the sum of its parts, and our consumer and category understanding. Using these two assets we can, should, and will continue to drive more tangible business value to clients. 

What’s the top issue facing the nation and how should it be resolved?

The $1bn Innovation Nation is getting all the headlines and that’s to be applauded as it sets out an ambitious positive direction for the country, We are a country and (within media and advertising) an industry that is absolutely reliant upon talented passionate educated people…the more of them we have…the better chance of a better future, but childhood education is the necessary fuel to power that innovation pipeline framework once built. Importantly that needs to be a ‘fair go’ for all – irrespective of privilege, gender, race or migrant status. The best chance for genuine innovation to succeed is having the necessary divergent opinions to create genius solutions that rarely come from anything but multiple viewpoints.

What is the disruptive technology you fear most and how will you beat it?

e-Auctions: where media pitches can be conducted remotely with no human interaction, and decisions made purely on commodity based pricing, sends a shiver down my spine. You beat them by continually explaining to clients that value is more than just a function of price. No matter how cheap it is. There are thankfully a lot of smart clients that appreciate this and the role of an Agency in assisting their businesses beyond purchasing cheap media.

The Human Brain: The most disruptive technology is (and always has been) the human brain. The ability to switch off, ignore, not act… we should never ever underestimate human apathy. The only way to beat it is to be relevant and interesting to stimulate it! It’s like a non-digital human Adblocker!

Whilst we all continue to focus on tech for hypertargeting and efficiency – we are human beings who still get emotionally connected to great emotive advertising. The imbalance of focus on tech and away from creativity and storytelling over the last few years should and will come back more into balance in 2016.  It’s not about beating the tech, or thinking that it’s the answer in and of itself, but rather it’s about making sure that we don’t throw away our core ‘human’ understanding of insight and ideas that excite. And this is coming from someone who worked in ‘digital’ for most of his career!

AI: When we launched PHD’s Sentience at Cannes with Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the world wide web), we looked at the coming world of Artificial Intelligence. It worried me that if computers only serve up the stuff that we have looked at or searched for, we are in danger of becoming more boring, and losing the serendipitous nature of simply happening upon interesting stuff that we didn’t know we wanted to know, until we happened upon it. 

Where will you be investing in 2016?

Olympics: Rio timezone means good things for Aussie sports fans, and expectations are good around ratings as well as Aussie medal chances. We have a number of blue-chip advertisers who will be getting on board.

Time: More interactions with VC firms. They are set up to have a continual flow of entrepreneurs through their doors, and as they invest in them they will have given them the right level of scrutiny. This affords us the chance to see more potential businesses that will have future influence.

Money: More proprietary research as consumer habits around device usage and media consumption continue to evolve.

The Health Space: And the opportunities being afforded by personal data (mindful of privacy legislation as well as consumer boundaries). The comparative nature of humans desire to compete with each other – and then showcased in social media platforms creates some fascinating space for comms planning. It also affords opportunities to do work that can potentially do social good, which above and beyond helping clients is something that we should all strive for.


Leigh Terry is CEO, Omnicom Media Group Australia & New Zealand 

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