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The Drum Network's Q & A: David Yorath of Guerillascope talks targeted TV advertising and enterprise culture in the UK

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How was Guerillascope founded?

David Yorath is managing director of Guerillascope.

Guerillascope was founded by myself, Ben Livingstone and our Irish chief, Oliver Durkin, in 2001. Personally, having previously worked for the likes of Carat and Leo Burnett on accounts such as Procter & Gamble, Diageo and Orange, I had become increasingly frustrated with the restrictive share deals and ‘Big Business’ exclusivity of the TV market. Driven by a collective determination to make TV advertising more accessible for more businesses than ever before, we decided the time was right to plough our own furrow.

How has the team grown over time?

Guerillascope has always focused on organically developing a tightly knit team that, crucially, gets on. In the early days the uptake in new staff was naturally a little slower, with around one new recruit a year.

However, this accelerated with the launch of our own TV campaign in 2012. In order to accommodate a swell in new business acquisitions, we grew – and continue to grow – our team methodically, with one eye always on group solidity. In 2014 this expansion attracted the interest of Chris Cole, a FTSE 100 chairman whose guidance has helped in driving Guerillascope’s upward trajectory.

Do you find it easy to retain talent? How do you approach agency culture?

Part of Guerillascope’s success is down to the fact that we have an excellent track record of retaining our staff, some of whom have been with us for over five years. It isn’t a stretch to say that we are a family; we’ve grown together, support one another, and all work towards the same goal.

What are your core objectives for the agency?

Our objectives centre on the belief that the UK’s enterprising culture is something to be celebrated. Fiercely independent, we regard transparency, flexibility and innovation as vital to providing a targeted TV advertising service that effectively supports businesses new to TV.

When we founded the agency, the digital revolution was afoot, bringing with it an explosion in smaller, niche channels and, consequently, greater targeting capabilities to reach specific audiences. With the UK public gradually leaving analogue television in favour of this wider channel choice, we saw an opportunity to provide a cost-efficient service catering for smaller budgets. Ultimately, we want to de-risk the process of advertising on TV for brands new to the market.

You have recently been shortlisted for the best new biz culture at the UK Agency Awards; how do you approach new business?

First and foremost, we’re the only TV advertising agency that has actually taken advantage of the medium’s considerable power and launched our own campaign. This has had a huge effect on our ability to attract new business. With most of the UK population having now seen Guerillascope on TV, our conviction in the effectiveness of TV advertising rests in our own experiences: newcomers gravitate towards us because we’ve been there and done it; we’ve been bold, and made it work.

Additionally, 2016 saw Guerillascope host its first ever event in partnership with Thinkbox for advertisers new to TV, with a selection of expert speakers. Following its success, we plan on hosting many more such events over the coming years.

Why is TV advertising now so effective for smaller businesses on tighter budgets?

I think there are several reasons for this. Firstly, due to an increase in available airtime, the costs of advertising on TV are now 30 per cent less expensive in real terms compared to a decade ago. Secondly, with a wider channel choice serving niche interests and the availability of more refined planning tools, it’s never been easier to target specific audiences; it’s no longer a case of going national or not at all. Additionally, half of all TV airtime is now essentially free, with non-chargeable zero-rated spots (those that attract an audience of less than 10,000 viewers) proving to be extremely efficient in generating response.

Another factor is that the boundaries between TV and online have blurred: viewers can now research and purchase a product or service on their smartphone while simultaneously watching it advertised on TV. This has eradicated the transaction journey and made TV the new point-of-sale medium; a by-product of which is increased response and brand engagement. Television now works harder for your money.

Where do you see the agency in three years’ time?

Having won a huge 94 new business accounts since January 2015 – over one every week – we want to continue to grow and consolidate our position as the agency that represents more brands on TV than any other competitor. Having moved into a new office in Farringdon, expanded our business into Ireland, and branched out into TV buying all over the world, I believe the next three years will be an exciting time for Guerillascope.

David Yorath is managing director of Guerillascope.

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