Mobile advertising pioneer spreads message across globe

Shaun Gregory at Telefonica London
Shaun Gregory at Telefonica London
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It’s a sweltering day and as the mercury keeps rising a text lands on your phone suggesting it’s time for a Heineken.

Walking past Starbucks your phone vibrates with a money-off voucher.

The new Range Rover Sport has just taken the Pikes Peak hill climb record, be one of the first to watch the video - as you wait for your bus.

Advertising - like so many things these days - has gone mobile.

Shaun Gregory, aged 45, from Sheffield is helping to pioneer this new platform across the planet.

He is the global chief executive for Telefonica Digital - owners of O2 in the UK - and an £80bn turnover company operating in 26 countries.

He said: “We are at the cutting edge of a technology which is changing advertising from a dark art into a science.”

But if that sounds a bit Big Brother, bear in mind you have to opt-in’ in the first place, says Shaun.

And data is used anonymously - so they target adverts at you based on your usage without knowing precisely who you are.

Some 96 per cent of texts are read within the first five minutes, it is claimed.

Telefonica Digital also works in internet television, video, outdoor advertising, social networks, loyalty, payments and analytics - with global revenues on target to pass £5bn by 2015.

Not everyone is comfortable with this level of personalisation - and the privacy that must be surrendered, but many large companies have long since made up their minds.

Shaun reels off a list of global firms he works with, including Visa, Fifa, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Land Rover, The Co-op.

But although it’s a global operation, local subsidiaries are vital.

Shaun added: “A lot of my role is as an ambassador. In my first six months I visited every country and every team.

“I make it my business to understand what everyone is doing. You have to stay grounded and build relationships so people trust you.”