For the 1st French Digital Interview, we had the pleasure of talking to Thomas Labeyrie.

Company: AOL/Huffington Post

Role: UK Head of Mobile, Monetisation and Marketing


French Digital:  Where are you based and why? Give us your elevator pitch.

Thomas Labeyrie: I have been living in London for 6 years now.

Back in 2007,  I was working in Bordeaux as Product Marketing Manager for In-Fusio.  I was offered a position as Product Marketing and Communication Manager for a company called I-Play based in London. That’s how I moved to the UK. In 2010, I-Play was acquired by Oberon Media (web games company) and they offered me the job of International Business Partnership Manager.

In 2011, I wanted a new challenge and to join a different industry. That’s how I joined AOL/Huffington Post as UK Head of Mobile, Monetisation and Marketing. I’m now in charge of the Mobile strategy for all AOL/Huffington Post mobile products in the UK/EU. That includes the roll out of our brands on mobile platforms, but I also make sure we have the monetisation systems in place for each of them. We are now selling millions of mobile impressions each month and the revenue keeps growing!

FD: What are the most interesting trends/ areas in digital at the moment?

TL: For me, monitoring the way mobile is changing the digital space is fascinating.

The traffic that is coming from mobile devices is increasing rapidly and continuously. We can see a definitive  change in consumer behaviour – mobile/tablets are eating desktop market share. It is impacting the entire digital industry.

Brand/site owners now need to factor in the new multi-screen environment. This is becoming more and more complex, but at the same time much more interesting.

As a digital publisher we now have to work in a tri-dimensional environment taking into account not only the device but also the time of the day and the location of the users to deliver the best product/service possible.

On the advertising side, it opens a lot more possibilities for brands and agencies.  The digital marketer now has a multitude of options to reach consumers.

I am also really interested in the relatively new multi-tasking trend – like watching TV and using a mobile phone/tablet at the same time. I think there will be an easier and faster connection in the future between on and offline marketing thanks to mobile devices.

FD: What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing in digital?

TL: The pace of consumer adoption is faster than our capacity to monetise these platforms.

Apart from some big players in e-commerce and gaming, the other market actors are facing difficulties in generating sufficient revenue. Facebook has (only!) started monetising its mobile apps last summer.

The other big challenge for the mobile advertising market, is that the digital agencies which own the big brands budgets are not yet 100% ready. They are barely starting to understand their mobile capabilities. It is a long process to bring everyone up to speed in the market.

FD: As part of your role what other cities are you involved in? What do you do in these other cities?

TL: I’m mainly going to the US (San Francisco, Washington, New York) to meet our mobile product teams and business partners.

FD: What is the most notable difference from your perspective between working with/in the UK and France?

TL: The digital industry in London is very dynamic and it is really motivating to work in such an environment. We are also very connected to the US which is a great advantage in our industry.

That said, the French Digital scene is very active too. There are a lot of very successful digital companies like Criteo, or Dailymotion and interesting initiative such as Silicon Sentier. The French Government has a dedicated minister for the Digital Economy which is great. France needs to continue ramping up its efforts in building a solid digital economy and actively support start up companies that could become the next Facebook or Amazon.

FD: Any digital startups/ apps you are particularly interested in at the moment?

TL: There are many starts up and concepts that fascinate me. I would say the personal device and apps such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Glooko or Omada Health (which help the users to track their performance or medical conditions) are my favourites. The Health app/tool business is just in its infancy, but it will be a major change in our own health management in a near future…

FD: Any left field source of information?

TL: Techcrunch / Emarketer / Comscore blog / Datagem / Mediaweek / Mobile Marketer.

FD: Your next city / country if any?

TL: San Francisco or New York.

FD: Preferred restaurant/bar in the place you are based in?

TL: Waxy o’Connors in Leicester Square.

FD: Anyone we should think of interviewing?

TL: Stéphane Blanc, Head of Mobile Business Development at Amazon.
Author: Wyem Dardouri