JOBS IN GAMES: Commercial Director career profile

MCV’s Jobs In Games special, in association with OPM, aims to cover all aspects of gaming careers – from entry level roles to the upper echelons.

Commercial directors are often mentioned among the latter, so we speak to IGN’s Adam Hopkinson to find out what this position actually involves:

How would you summarise your role?
If there’s a financial value attached to it at IGN, I’m responsible for delivering it. My job encompasses everything related to pricing and revenue generation – from booking the campaign, through to successful delivery and payment.

It’s a very hands-on role, as I’m actively involved in driving key media buys, managing major agency relationships for AskMen and IGN – ensuring we create successful campaigns that deliver return on investment and repeat business.

What are your main responsibilities?
My team generates commercial revenue for IGN, and the buck stops with me if we don’t deliver. I’m responsible for ensuring we follow sales best practice, and I work closely with the team so that we continue to offer our clients the best solution for their advertising campaigns.

I make sure that clients are happy with their spend and that we are happy with the revenue, ensuring that trading between all stakeholders is working as well as it can.

How did you get your job?
I was Group Trading Director for Target, and I was approached by a headhunter with a very interesting job role they wanted to discuss with me. I met with Ian Chambers, who turned out to be incredibly persuasive. Now 18 months in, the job is still as varied and exciting as he promised it would.

What special skills or qualifications did you need?
I believe I was chosen because of my considerable agency side experience. Having somebody that understands agency land really benefits media owners like IGN. Get as much exposure to new business pitches as you can – as the experience this gives you will be invaluable. Focus is very important – the whole digital world is evolving so quickly and developments can either make things more complicated, or more efficient. You need to try everything, but make the right choice. I’d also recommend an iron liver.

Describe your average day. What do you do?
Fast and exciting, and never the same – I’m awake at 5.30am and you’ll find me logging on to check whether campaigns have gone live across our sites, before checking what campaigns everyone else is running.

I have a long train journey to the office, so I’ll typically get on a train around 7am, which is always a good time to ensure a quick email reply. I’ll be emailing our team to plan the day ahead, and will spend the quiet time to get my head around the meetings and commitments ahead of me.

I’ll be in the office around 8.30am, as media land suddenly wakes up. If I’m lucky, I’ll grab 10 minutes for a lunch, but my day is a mix of client meetings, helping the team develop new business proposals and ensuring the money comes in. I’ll often look up from my PC to discover its 6.30pm, meaning I’m in the dog house with the wife and my daughter.

What is the best part of your job?
I’ve been in media the best part of 20 years and nothing beats closing deals – it’s the most creative and rewarding part of what I do. My team at IGN are exciting and talented – I get a real buzz out of helping them make the best possible proposal for their client. IGN is a great place to work, and I love meeting new people who would fit in here.

What is the worst part?
I’m baffled as to why the fast moving world of digital media still often requires a faxed IO.

What tips would you give to anybody else applying for a similar position?
I’d be happy to speak to anybody on the verge of applying for a similar role. It’s important to get a clear picture, as it’s one of the most demanding sales jobs you could take on. Secondly, get as much experience in contract negotiation as your job allows – no two deals will be the same, and it’s a vital part of this role. Finally, use Linked –In, but don’t just fill it with people you think you should follow, keep in regular contact with the people you’ve met throughout your career.

What are your long term career plans?

I’m really happy at IGN and my role continues to grow as new international licensees continue to join us. I’ve temporarily put my rock star dreams aside, as I develop my art side line alongside my day job – it’s a fantastic way of channelling my creativity and letting off steam. When my kids are old enough and listening to music, I’ll persuade them it’s a great idea to start a rock band.

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