Norm Johnston – Chief Digital Officer of GroupM’s Mindshare and Global CEO of Mindshare FAST – was recently appointed as the new CEO of News UK’s video advertising tech unit Unruly.
Johnston will replace outgoing CEO and co-founder Sarah Wood. She announced in October that she will take up the role of non-executive chair of Unruly’s board. According to News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, Wood’s transition to chairman of Unruly will provide “cultural continuity at a time of upheaval in the ad market, which has been polluted by unreliable content and become, in part, a valley of the bots.” Wood co-founded Unruly in 2006.
Johnston will assume his office in London, and will report to Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News UK. Unruly operates a video advertising platform called UnrulyX, which promises “brand safe” placement on premium sites and social media on behalf of clients.
Johnston has been involved in digital marketing for close to two decades now. In 1997, he launched Modem Media UK, one of Britain’s first digital agencies. Johnston then joined GroupM’s Mindshare in 2007, where he was Global Chief Digital Officer as well as CEO of its FAST business unit, which has over 2,000 employees worldwide. He is also known as a thinker who has written several books, including one titled, Adaptive Marketing.
“Norm’s data-driven approach and deep understanding of marketers’ requirements will be invaluable to Unruly clients and the wider News Corp business,” Brooks said in announcing the new hire, adding that Johnston is “a programmatic pioneer with truly global experience.”
“I am deeply grateful to Sarah Wood and to her co-founders, Scott Button and Matt Cooke, for their commitment to transforming advertising for the better. They have built Unruly into a scaled and trusted advertising platform and I look forward to Sarah chairing the Unruly board and continuing to bring her passion and vision to the table,” Johnston said in a statement.
“Our priority is to maximize our digital advertising capabilities, and Norm will play a pivotal role in the development of a global ad platform, as well as being a thoughtful, creative and contemporary partner for our clients,” said News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson in a statement.