Programmatic Summit
Dominic Powers

All things programmatic, ad tech & digital with Dominic Powers, CEO, CtrlShift

In a world of digital marketing, tech-based advertising and data-led innovation, Dominic Powers is a stalwart figure with international experience. Investor, mentor, advisor, lecturer and founder are just some of the titles comprising his quarter century of expertise in the field, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

“I started my first proper job in digital in the mid 90’s in the UK,” says Powers. “Back then we started to connect fax machines to PCs, doing mail merges. We were making first attempts at email marketing where we would use really primitive bots to go out and scrape email addresses from chat groups and message boards. I look back now and think, ‘Wow, maybe it’s not stuff to be proud of’, but those were early days in an industry that really didn’t exist.”

Dom then moved to Hong Kong in 1999 to work for 24/7, a subsidiary that was the first Nasdaq Asian-listed internet company, even before Alibaba. As Product Director, Powers felt a bit out of his comfort zone.

“There I was, really just given a job that I had no experience doing. Those were the dot com early days, and my role was to build an email service provider, an ESP platform. Back then there was no GDPR, no privacy regulation. We were building an industry, but we were just making it up as we went along, because there was nothing for us to reference.”

But, like always, Powers approached the role with vigour and zeal, storing it in his cache of knowledge, acting as a pioneer in an industry on the brink of major change.

“It was brand-spanking new,’ says Dom. “Ad networks were popping up left, right and centre. You had websites popping up everywhere trying to make money. We were there just trying to build an industry, but obviously as many people will know, in 2002 that house of cards came collapsing down, and we went through the first dot com crash. I was just again lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.”

By that, Dominic refers to getting the call that would act as a defining moment in his career. He’d been speaking to some of the early DoubleClick people and was called in to start building and running DoubleClick in Asia.

“It was still early days, but we broke some really great ground across the region bringing ad serving into publishers who had just been hard coding ads. We brought in a marketing automation platform for big brands. There was nothing in the region at that point in time, and we were just good at what we did. We were consultative and able to build great relationships and great business.”

Two and a half years later, with Powers at the helm of the product, DoubleClick was positioned to break up, selling a piece to Google and another to Epsilon. With his interests shifting, and after four years at DoubleClick, Dom commenced a decade-long journey with Epsilon, building their business outside of North America.

“Those were just great times—great product, great people, until I exited in 2016. Many people now know what’s happened to Epsilon, having been sold to Publicis. But when I left in 2016, I would never have dreamed that Epsilon would become part of a network agency.”

Enterprising innovation in the present day
Fast forward to present day, and you’ll find Dominic Powers still spearheading innovative ways of thinking in a fast-moving ad tech world. As current CEO of Singapore-founded, global technology company CtrlShift, he’s leading the company’s flagship product called The Hub, an enterprise advertising software for unified media planning, activation and insights. The Hub aggregates platforms (social, search, native, programmatic and more) so that brands and agencies can advertise anywhere from just the one platform.

“The history of The Hub goes back to 2011, Dominic says. “It was the brainchild of our Chairman, Reza Behnam and our CTO, Ganga Chirravuri. They saw the future of the programmatic space that was somewhat dystopian. It was an industry that had multiple platforms that were overcrowded, confused and difficult to navigate.”

“When I came in, I was just blown away by how they took something so completely complex and simplified it to make life easier for the media trade industry. I’ve worked with some great companies, worked with some amazing people, and I learned a lot along the way. I think doing it in this part of the region makes it even more special because it’s so much smaller, and when you’ve been a part of it from an early stage, your friendships and business relationships go very deep. That’s what makes it a really special place to be.”

With so much experience, from the early days of scraping for data with low-grade bots to working on innovative ways to trade media, Dominic Powers still appreciates the simple things.

“When you start to think about technologies of the future, something we’re hoping for is just going back to the very basics,” he posits. “It’s about the consumer, the consumer journey, and the complete journey. The technologies that can knit that together from a basic data point of view are the ones that are really going to succeed. It’s bridging that gap between the activation teams and the CRM teams, because in a post third-party cookie world that is going to be the frontline of the battle.”

Dominic Powers will be presenting at the Sydney Programmatic Summit on the topic of, ‘Building a high performance programmatic team: how to be tech-agnostic, flexible and profitable’. Catch him on 5 March, 2020.

More hot topics in programmatic will be discussed at the Programmatic Summit on Tuesday March 3rd in Melbourne and Thursday March 5th in Sydney.

Check out the agenda here and buy your tickets here.


Gavin Stewart
Marketing Director
Ashton Media

Gavin Stewart

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