We all know that there are millions of websites around the world, all trying to generate cash through advertising revenue. Yet as an agency, how do you reach these sites across the globe? Do you just trawl the net hoping to find the right one to reach your international market? Jon Walsh of One Central Point saw this need and decided to bridge this glaring gap. 

 

Can you describe for us in a nutshell what your business offers?

One Central Point is the UK’s only totally global digital media sales house. What this means is that we are able to deliver the best premium websites in any given country around the world for advertisers. We centralise the whole process – campaign planning, languages, currencies, campaign management, optimisation, invoicing etc.

Does this mean that you are able to contact each local country’s top prestigious websites and help ad agencies to put their clients’ adverts onto those premium sites?

Effectively, One Central Point is the conduit and the literal ‘central point’ between an advertiser in one country and one or more ‘perfect’ websites in another. Without OCP in the middle it would create huge amounts of work for the advertiser or agency. The language issues alone in finding and negotiating the price are incredibly difficult, never mind worrying about the currency exchange or having to work late due to time zone differences. OCP is an advertiser’s one stop shop for the best of the world’s digital media.

And how long have you been working on this project?

OCP started as an idea in late 2012.

What makes you passionate about this business? How did you come up with the idea for it?

The passion for the business comes from the fact that there was a glaring hole in the international media industry – which OCP now occupies!

The idea for the business came primarily from my experience after we sold our last company. Monetise was acquired in the summer of 2008 by a large and well funded American ad network who already a management team (their own guys) that they wanted to run the UK business (as it was completely, and, swiftly rebranded under their name). Not having a real role for me, but wanting me to hang around to make sure we hadn’t sold them a dud (we hadn’t), they put me in the position of Head of International. Although they had also acquired a business in Germany, launched in France, and had a few other small offices around the world, they didn’t truly have an international offering that had any form of cohesion or symmetry. The truth was I struggled to pull in any advertisers as I had a ‘square peg answer to a round hole problem’. Every meeting I had with a media agency resulted in the same thing; “We really like the sound of your business, but unless you can offer us sites that are in the local language of the country that’s read by that country’s domestic audience, it’s just not premium enough for our client.”

OCP

This was repeated over and over again. I exited my earn-out period at the start of 2010, and although I had this idea playing at the back of my mind, my business partner and I decided to chase after other areas in the digital media sector – namely Mobile, Video, In-Image advertising, Real Time advertising and then a recruitment company that would benefit them all! We had varying degrees of failure across them for various reasons, and by then it was 2012 and we had the Olympics in London. With all the nations of the world coming to one place to compete and be the best, it re-inspired me to look into the idea of an international 3rd party sales company. I spoke to a few seniors on the buy side about the idea, and suddenly I had a brief for £80k land on my desk – we have never looked back since!

And did you always want to be an entrepreneur? How did you come to being your own boss, so to speak?

I left school at 16 and other than a couple of C grade GCSE’s (post re-takes!), I have no qualifications whatsoever. However, having attended an independent school (where I was probably the poorest student) between the ages of five and ten, and seen all my friends houses that were huge and their parents driving Bentleys and Porsches, I knew that I wanted to have that when I was older. Unfortunately for my parents who scrimped and saved to send me to this top school, academia was not my route to running a business. I started a job in door-to-door sales at 17, then spent five years in retail sales, before getting a job selling advertising to university departments and HR departments in corporate. That company was acquired in 2000 by one of the national newspaper groups, which, although prestigious, showed me how much I couldn’t work in a stifled corporate environment.

April 2000 brought the Dot.Com bust, so I excitedly jumped into a small 3rd party digital advertising sales house as employee number three. The company was nothing more than a contract sales company for online advertising, but the industry was so nascent that money was still being pumped in. Despite constantly being the top revenue generator, I felt that I wasn’t growing enough as an individual and that I needed a greater challenge, but there was no way I would be able to move up the ranks there as the management structure was so flat, and there was no way the managers were going to leave. The only way to continue my growth was to leave and set up my own thing. Fortunately, I met my soon to be business partner a few months later who had a very complementary skill-set to my own. We went on to build what was recognised by the GP Bullhound Media Momentum Awards as the fourth fastest growing company in the digital media space in 2008 – two months later we closed the sale of the company.

So tell us a little about your personal background. Any entrepreneurs in the family?

My parents both come from very safe public sector backgrounds, both are academics – especially my father, who did his post graduate at Cambridge. I believe my grandfather ran his own furniture making business when he was in his thirties.

And you mentioned your business partner – any interesting stories there?

I have an awesome business partner in Joel Cymberg! He is my total opposite, yet we share the same vision and values. Some would say that he is the smart one out of the two of us! Joel is the ex-Westminster, MBA holding, ex-banker type. We roughly split our roles as I’m more sales and marketing and he’s more operations and finance. I’m definitely the more ‘media’ one out of the two of us. We met through sheer chance. It’s too long a story for here, but in short, I sent an email to the wrong person (through Outlook’s email auto-fill), and the person who received it said I don’t think you meant this for me, but if that’s what you’re up to, you should go and meet Joel as he’s wanting to something similar. We’ve been business partners for 10 years now, and had a decent enough share of both success and failure together. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, and make sure we play to those accordingly.

Tell us what makes your business different to your competitors. What gives you the edge?

There are no other companies in our space that really look like us. The closest thing we have as competitors are the portals (MSN, Yahoo etc.) – they’re really the only other game in town that can purport to have local language sites across the world

And have you encountered any challenges in starting up? How did you overcome these?

The challenge that we have had with One Central Point really, was that we were creating a new type of offering rather than copying existing ones. This meant that we have had a job keeping what we do simple so that the market can ‘get it’ and not be confused or not see how it benefits them by our explanation.

Tell us about your goal for the next couple of years? Where would you like to see your company in say the next 6 years?

Our ultimate goal is to be the ‘go-to’ company for all multi-national/international advertising needs across the world, no matter where the advertiser or agency is based and regardless of what medium they are looking to buy e.g. print, radio, TV etc.

And finally, if there was one bit of advice that you could leave for someone considering a startup, what would it be?

My advice to people setting up business for the first time would be to stay focused, work hard, and most importantly remember that it’s all a journey – you will face triumphs and defeats along the way, and you can learn from it all. And if you’re not having fun with your business, you’re in the wrong business.

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