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5 Minutes With Giles Henderson

5th Aug 2014


With over 20 years’ experience in media strategy, planning and buying, Giles has worked for a number of key brands across Europe and Asia. He has a rounded knowledge in all communications channels, from social strategy and SEM through to mobile, video and digital direct response as well as TV, radio, press and outdoor. Giles heads up the Media & Channels team at VML Qais and ensures that clients receive the most cost-effective plans which overachieve on campaign objectives.

What are your digital / technology priorities for the year ahead?

Mobile and video are two key areas to focus on in the digital sphere.  The technology available to advertisers for both of these platforms is advancing at a tremendous rate and agencies need to ensure they keep on top of how they can integrate both into, say, programmatic buying as well as social.  Marketers also need to ensure that they are prepared to move forward quickly rather than just doing ‘what everyone else does’.

Which brands or businesses are using digital / technology to its full potential and how?

I have to say WPP, obviously.  There are some fantastic agency groups within WPP as a whole who are making great use of digital and showing advertisers what can be done.  Mondelez is a great example of an advertiser who is making use of the full potential of digital, with its progress in social (Oreo specifically) and video marketing.

What emerging technologies or trends should people be aware of?

Research and optimization platforms are becoming more and more intricate and providing agencies and advertisers with a vast array of tools and data to effectively improve marketing budgets.  The data now available for mobile marketing especially is allowing us to geo-target down to very specific locations and this type of micro-marketing will be something to look out for moving forward.

What is the importance of video in the digital landscape from your perspective?

Extremely important, hence my agreeing to be part of the IAB Video Committee.  Video advertising is an extremely effective extension to advertisers’ TV budgets and can also be great as a standalone option – especially with functionality such as Innovid leading the way on creative treatments. 

How are people’s roles and positions in companies changing with the emergence of digital and technology?

I wouldn’t say that people’s positions or roles are changing per se.  Those involved in the digital advertising industry, however, need to keep on top of the changing technology as much as possible though – and the pace at which the industry is changing is much greater than it was, say, 10 years ago.

What does the future look like for digital advertising?

Very positive at the moment.  Across the board we are seeing advertisers commit far greater proportions of their budget to digital advertising.  But they shouldn’t do this at the expense of their marketing activity – they need to think of digital as part of the advertising mix as a whole, rather than a separate entitiy.

What’s the best piece of innovation you have seen in recent time and why?

Although innovation such as 3D printers are great, and Google Glass offers opportunity for further innovation, I would still say that the basics of mobile technology offer the best opportunity for advertisers.  4G technology, and further improvements in mobile internet speed will offer advertisers the best chance to reach out to their audiences effectively over this year.

What are your strategies to stay ahead of the competition?

Research and innovate.  Keep on top of the latest technology and ensure that we’re offering the best to clients in terms of their marketing budgets.

What have you noticed regarding non-traditional competitors moving in and attracting talent away from your company?

Not a problem that we’ve experienced to date as VML Qais provides their staff with a great work atmosphere and the opportunity to progress personally very quickly.

How has employee engagement changed in recent times and how do you ensure that you have the highest levels among your employees?

The tradition of ensuring that your staff feel that they are more than just staff is still important. Seeing yourself as ‘a boss’ still gives the air that you are more important than the staff who work with you in your team.  Being a leader and encouraging staff to self-educate and ensuring that they are happy on a personal level too is still key.

What is your favourite local food?

The fried dumplings at Alexandra Food Market.

Where is your favourite place to travel?

France, to see my family.