Life at adMarketplace

Sam Pitt: Life at adMarketplace

Mayla Wang
June 13, 2023

A very happy anniversary to Sam Pitt, our European Managing Director! Today marks four years since Sam first stepped foot into the adMarketplace office in 2019. In that short period, Sam has rapidly expanded the European operations, building out his team from just one member to twelve, helping transform the company into a truly international organization.

We had the honor of chatting with Sam about his experience scaling the business, assembling a team from the ground up, and the invaluable influence of his upbringing in a diverse neighborhood of North London.

Tell us about yourself, your career journey and what brought you to adMarketplace in 2019.

After 18 great years in media agencies, I was eager for new challenges to broaden my experience. The performance marketplace was interesting to me because there was an opportunity in the European market that wasn’t being taken advantage of. I flew to our NY office to meet the team on a Monday four years ago and I instantly felt connected to all the interesting and lively personalities that made up this dynamic environment. It felt like a start-up and I loved the culture and energy of the place (plus bizarrely the NY supporters club of my football team Tottenham Hotspur is based in a bar very near the office – where I decamped after the morning at the mothership).

Not long after accepting the role, the pandemic struck so my first year and a half was spent working remotely from my spare bedroom, with a team of one in the UK. It’s crazy to think back to those times, and I’m really proud of what we achieved during a challenging global crisis. It’s taken a lot of tenacity to onboard, grow and build forever partnerships with the fantastic roster of Advertisers and Publishers that we work with. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support from our colleagues in the New York office who are committed to embracing the unique market characteristics across Europe.

Looking back, do you have a favorite memory from your first year at adMarketplace?

It has been an amazing 4 years at adMarketplace – easily the most fulfilling of my career so far.  There have been dozens of professional highlights but I’m going to choose a social moment – meeting the entire company at the annual Mets game on my 3rd day! I’d never been to a baseball game before that.  I was made to feel incredibly welcome by everyone, with lots of colleagues helping to explain the game to me. Turns out it’s much more complicated than I thought!

We definitely missed you in May at this year’s Mets game. What do you consider to be your most significant achievements during your four years with us?

Building adMarketplace into a major, self-sufficient business in Europe! In the last 4 years, I have led the growth of the London office from scratch to a multi-million dollar enterprise. We’ve onboarded and grown an enviable portfolio of advertisers and publishers that have provided the foundations of a successful European business. All whilst also leading the Operations side – building out my team, driving employee engagement, marketing leading benefits and marketing the company.

I’m less proud of my karaoke performance at the Sales team night out in New York last year.  Although I blame our team’s Sales Director Filippo for choosing songs that didn’t properly showcase my vocal range.

Yes, you went from a team of one to twelve! What do you look for when building a team?

I have built a diverse, high-functioning team that I only ever judged on performance. This is the hallmark of every role I’ve held across the past two decades and something I take huge pride in.  Building a team from scratch, though challenging, is fun and fulfilling. It is rewarding to see how much my team enjoys and grows into their roles.  Everyone on the team brings unique skills and has played a significant part in the success we’ve seen.  It’s also my commitment to empower my diverse team to continue the growth that we’ve enjoyed in the last 4 years. By employing a coaching leadership style, this makes adMarketplace truly scalable.

In your opinion, which of our 5 C’s has been key to driving the success on your team?

It would have to be Creative Conflict! This one’s interesting because ‘conflict’ often carries a negative connotation, but when handled properly, it can actually fuel team growth. Similarly, when we think of creativity, we tend to limit it to specific artistic disciplines, but the truth is, creativity exists in every aspect of our work. When we have a team founded on trust and mutual respect, sharing different perspectives becomes an exciting and effective approach to problem-solving. Creating a safe space allows us to express our creativity, whether it’s through coding, product development, new processes or partnership management. By challenging each other in a receptive and supportive environment, we unlock opportunities for innovative solutions and foster continuous growth.

I think I’ve built a brilliant tight-knit team. We have great chemistry and that allows for enjoyable discussions and effective creative conflict. If you have two people with no relationship, the creative conflict between them may very well turn into mere conflict.

What are some interesting trends in search right now that help you in your role?

People are seeking alternatives outside of legacy search.  The existence of challenger brands in the Search sector is vital for the industry.  This means offering Publishers the chance to improve the Search user experience for their consumers and gain accurately measured, true market value for their inventory.  For Advertisers, it’s the ability to deliver better bang for their buck by having a diversified Search media mix which delivers true incremental results.

Outside of Search specifically, the way people shop is evolving – for example the growth in cash back sites and shopping apps. We have built a number of really effective partnerships in this sector.

And consumers are increasingly conscious of their privacy and how data is being used – partially because of high profile legislation in this area. Reacting to consumer Search intent in the moment is the most effective type of targeting and does not impact privacy.

What life experiences do you use in your role?

I grew up in a diverse neighborhood in North London, surrounded by people of different cultures and backgrounds. It was a very multicultural environment. I learnt that there is no one linear path to success – I got to see people around me elevating themselves and succeeding in a variety of ways.

Additionally, studying abroad in South Carolina when I was at university, while daunting initially, was hugely beneficial. I lived in the international hall with students from all around the world who brought a myriad of life experiences.

I also grew up playing team sports, which are great for developing confidence and growing team-interaction skills. In my experience, people who thrive playing team sports in their formative years tend to have positive impacts on work units. I played on  football teams (soccer, as you Americans call it) from 5 years old until my early 30’s, and have recently started again playing for a local Vets team when my legs allow.  Plus golf, squash and finally padel tennis which I took up during the pandemic.  And in the last year my son has really started to get passionate about Tottenham Hotspur so we get to most home games.

Yes, we saw a great turnout for our London Golf Day last month – must’ve been fun hosting it! So now that it is apparent that you love soccer and golf, to learn more about you, we would like to know…

If you could live in the universe of any film, which would it be?

I had to involve my kids in this one for advice.  We just watched Strange World as a family, so it’s got to be that one. It was incredibly imaginative so I’m going along with their choice here.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Outside of work I am extremely excited to attend the Ryder Cup in Italy and watch Europe beat the US!  I’m roadtripping there with a couple of friends which will be an epic experience – although I fear my dodgy music tastes won’t be fully embraced on the car stereo.

In terms of adMarketplace, continued expansion of our European business, including our fabulous new office which we move into on July 1st.  It has a bar and a running track on the roof – the best of both worlds.

And finally, what is your go-to restaurant when you visit us in NYC?

This Korean restaurant in Midtown called ‘Turntable Chicken’. My go-to orders are their wings & sweet potato fries.  The London team have spreadsheets where we rank the best steak restaurants and wings joints in NY.  Turntable is my personal favorite. Let me know if you want all the recs!

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