Managing Director (EMEA) for iPromote inc.
Ben Barney is the Managing Director (EMEA) for iPromote inc. He has 18 years experience in SMB digital marketing at both the publisher and platform vendor sides. He is a seasoned and versatile CEO/MD in the digital marketing, SaaS and ad-tech industries. He has a proven track in building visions and executing them for both corporates and start-ups.
Technology, innovation, and disruptive businesses are his passion.
His first enterprise, Akesios, developed an award-winning ad platform for media owners and agencies to manage, fulfill, optimize and report on, digital ad products from SEM to pay per call in a scalable way. In July 2013, Spotzer Media acquired a paid search platform from Akesios, this platform is now one of the largest SEM platforms globally.
Ben is now MD for the EMEA region for iPromote which, provides a SaaS-based, automated ad creation and fulfillment service to SMBs. The multi-award-winning platform manages over 50,000 SMB campaigns globally, and is the market leader in the provision of omnichannel advertising in this segment.
Q. Do you have a particular routine you try to do every day?
Well, I think one of the hardest things that I’ve found is that I used to go to the gym like six days a week, and do a lot of other activities around it. I started with lockdown I got into a fairly decent shape for my age and then now I’m just trying to get as active as I can to, rather unsuccessfully, prevent the flab from coming back.
Q. What have you missed the most during the pandemic?
It’s the simple things for me. Like, going to my local pub and having a pint talking to friends, having a packet of pork scratching if you know what those are, for most people who aren’t English they’re a quite disgusting snack, sort of snack. That’s what I probably missed the most. In general, what I miss the most is just having the choice to be able to go out, not that you really want to go out all the time, but just not being able to have a choice, I find, is quite difficult.
Q. And did you start new hobbies during the lockdown periods?
Well, I think, one of the benefits is the, you’re not traveling as much, Many of us travel quite a lot. And so, you do have more time on your hands and I try to use it wisely. So, I’ve been trying to learn some new skills or sign up to various online courses, online trainings, and sort of tried to do an hour a day of this. The most recent one I’ve being doing is a program from Harvard Business School, which was a Technology Entrepreneurship from Lab to Market. And that’s just super, super interesting, slightly tangential to my day job but I enjoy that part of learning.
Apart from that, obviously I do help a whole range of businesses from food companies in the US, building digital transformation strategies, some smaller start-ups, I’ve got a few of those other sort of business interests to sort of, try to do as well as my main job.
Q. Do you also have a favorite author or book genre that you like to read?
I’ve always been a hopeless reader if I’m honest. I think I’m more of a, sort of a visual person, rather than sort of reading text from a book. But having said that, I don’t really read fiction as much as non-fiction, especially business-related books. There’s one I really got into, completely unbelievable and gripping. It’s called “Bad Blood” and is a story about secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley start-up. It’s all, you know, true stories persistent raise, lots of money and questionable antics, things like that. I find it interesting to, sort of see what is, really happening in the world.
On top of that, as I attended Harvard Business School before the lockdown and from there I’ve got a whole suitcase full of books, which most of them have been written by the professors so, I think it’s a self-glorification, but they’re pretty good. I am trying to read most of them.
Q. If you were to write an autobiography or if somebody was to write a biography of yourself, what do you think the title would be?
I can’t imagine for the life of me, why anyone would do that but I guess just an average man doing average things , so I’m not sure anyone would buy it.
Q. What was your first non-desk job?
I started doing lots of things when I was very young. Think the most notable was when I was about 12, me and a friend of mine we built a chicken coop in his garden and bought chickens. Then the chicken started laying eggs and started selling eggs door to door, um, which was slightly problematic. I think we underestimated how cunning foxes can be so most of the money went to digging deeper foundations for the coop and replacing chickens.
I mean, I’ve always sort of been fairly entrepreneurial.
Q. Do you have any dream profession that you would have liked to do, aside from what you do?
No, not really. I’ve always been fascinated with digital advertising, digital marketing.
I was doing Google advertising for Thomson Directories back in 2000, before Google even had an office in UK, so I’ve been fascinated by that.
I suppose the one thing that slightly irks me is that in 2001, 2002, I did do a lot of research into setting up a search engine marketing agency and at the time there was only another agency in the UK that was working European-wide they’re called WSPS, website promotion services, it wasn’t a very innovative move. And set up the company for one reason or another I didn’t make the final push and that company a few years later, sold for £56 million in cash. And that’s one of the things that I really learned to get out there and if there’s an opportunity, you really take it straight away and not wait.
Q. If you could have dinner with 1 or 2 famous persons, who would that be?
My favorite would just be having dinner with friends and family. Someone famous…, I mean when Donald Trump got into the White House and Barack Obama shook his hand into those meetings that’s probably the biggest, single act of professionalism that I’ve ever witnessed. So maybe I’d like to sit down and have a drink with Barrack Obama and understand how he really felt how he was able to, you know, say all the great things he did even though he had diverse opinions and values than him. So maybe that.
Q. Do you cook yourself? What’s your favorite comfort food?
I love cooking. And one of my little sidelines is to have a little online spice business. And so that’s really it. I actually do a lot of Indian cooking. I’ve been on some cooking courses with some celebrity Indian chefs. So that would be my comfort food and I can cook well. I feel that I can cook it well. And you’re all welcome to try my nan and chicken madras.
Q. If you had one message you wanted to give to all the partners and members, what would it be?
I’ve just been impressed by how many businesses have really adapted to so well. Many businesses are growing so well during this pandemic, so that’s great to hear. And just get vaccinated and lets us all get in the same room and have a cocktail together.