‘Think with Innovators’ is a new series of interviews with some of marketing’s most original thinkers. In the first of these conversations, we talk to Marco Bertozzi of Performics, about where he got his start in digital media, how he manages to stay agile and innovative within a huge organisation, and what he thinks the future holds for the industry.
If Marco Bertozzi had to pick the defining moment of a career that has most recently seen him take up the position of Global Chief Revenue Officer at Performics, it would be his decision to abandon the world of TV and turn his attention towards the then-nascent world of digital. “At the time TV was all conquering and all dominant, and many people just didn't understand what I was moving into and why,” he says, before adding what amounts to a concise summary of his approach to innovation: “It's important that when you have these instincts and they feel right you should roll with them instead of always listening to people around you.”
This early recognition of digital’s potential to change the marketing landscape has served Marco well, providing him with a ringside seat for one of the most explosive periods of innovation in the advertising industry. But taking this leap of faith wasn’t without its difficulties: “It's rare when you're changing something fundamental that everyone can see what you can see, and everyone agrees with what you're saying,” he says, likening the challenge of bringing a new way of thinking into an established business to “swimming upstream.”
For Marco, innovators often tend to be lone, disruptive voices, whose biggest challenge is persuading the majority that change is a good thing, and that the outcome of that change will be positive for both agency and clients alike. In his many years of advancing the digital agenda, he says there has been no bigger challenge than the introduction of Programmatic, starting in 2009. “If you look back, there were whole businesses that did not believe this was the future,” he remembers, “but at every organisation now there are big advocates for Programmatic who all have a common thread of trying to change how the business has always worked.” In driving that change, Marco recalls that there were no short-cuts, as he spent years “literally going door to door” in an effort to educate colleagues and clients about the power of the new technology.
Innovation is in your DNA. I think you can learn some of the skills that are required, but it goes back to ‘what motivates you?’ The motivation to innovate comes from within.
Marco Bertozzi, Global Chief Revenue Officer, Performics
“My definition of innovation in the context of a large media group is really this concept of the ‘intrepeneur’,” says Marco. “Really this means trying to drive change, trying to change what people have always been doing, trying to invent new things within the structure of a big organisation.” Having earned his stripes as an ‘intrApreneur’ at VivaKi and at Performics, Marco now takes time out to share his experiences with the next generation of innovators. “I do mentoring at university, I do talks at schools and there's a few other things in the pipeline. And at the same time I like sitting down with some of the biggest digital companies in the world and talking about how we're going to continue to evolve this new space.”
Looking forward, Marco can see new technologies already starting to change the landscape, even though the fundamental challenge for businesses remains unchanged. “First Programmatic came along, and with it all the different channels, and now everyone's talking about virtual reality. It just never stops, so the challenge for agencies is how you keep on top of that change and really embrace it.”
Reflecting on his undiminished appetite for the next wave of innovation, Marco knows exactly where his enthusiasm springs from. “I think for me, what gets me out of bed in the morning has always been that ability to work with lots of other companies and people who are more future facing. My satisfaction comes from believing that there's a right way forward that's different to how we've been doing it before, and having the self belief to see it through.”