The Fishbowl: Laura Chaibi, Roku

The Fishbowl: Laura Chaibi, Roku

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople 10 revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.

This week is Laura Chaibi, international director of ad marketing and insights at Roku.


Chaibi has been leading international marketing and insight at Roku for more than a year.

She has previous roles in the UK, the Middle East and North America in research and leadership at companies including Women In Research, I-COM Global, the IPA, Nielsen, Middle East Broadcasting Centre, Yahoo, Orange, the BBC, AOL, Tourism Australia and Acxicom.

How did you end up working in media?

My career in media was an active choice rather than an ‘end up’ situation. Growing up in Canada, I did stage theatre and musicals all through my early schooling and worked in a video store (yes VHS tapes) when I was a teenager.

When I moved to the UK in the 90s, I thought this internet stuff was cool and after a catalogue of experiences (and blunders), I fully reversed out of marketing into research and specifically media research.

I took a pay cut to join the BBC into media research and started my career at the bottom measuring all BBC digital media nearly 20 years ago. I’ve only looked forward since.

What is one of your greatest achievements?

Getting my son into adulthood and surviving!

I was in the right place, at the right time, to pioneer digital media (BBC), mobile media (Orange) and scaled international data backed pure play internet media (Yahoo). We were #1 and I had found my calling, achieved business and industry success, and was recognised as the ‘women of tomorrow – ones to watch in the future’ at the IPA awards.

But then, in the blink of an eye, my husband died. I was 37, widowed and my son was 12. I was a public media industry face, building the future of media but I had to make a decision, and I chose my son.

I moved to the Middle East (my son is half-Arab) to see him through into adulthood, in a place where the vices young kids face, are banned. It was the best thing getting him on a safe path to adulthood.

I commend parents who must get through this stage of kids’ lives every single day. For me, this is my greatest achievement and continues to inspire me every day.

**Peer question** What has been your biggest, or most insightful mistake and what did you learn from it?

Since the early stages of my career, I believed that my industry knowledge would shine through social barriers and lead to my success, irrespective of whether I am a woman or not, and this took a long time to unravel. My time in the Middle East opened my eyes and reformed me.

I went through six hours of academic psychometric testing to see if I could adjust to working in the Middle East before I was relocated. The kaleidoscope of ways on ‘how business is done’ or how the east vs west mentality is ‘different’ and the consequences of trying to have western mindsets and behaviours in non-western business environments were all part of the experience.

I have learned to appreciate how to read social and interpersonal dynamics, how circles of trust in many other business cultures work. Combining business experience, soft power and knowledge is way more effective.

Diversity in thought, international business nuances, and resilience to recover quickly with the ‘mistakes’ that were often cultural ignorance or misunderstandings has been the greatest lesson and most powerful superpower I have acquired from my career.

** James Cornish, vp of international sales at Vevo.

What is part of your daily routine that you look forward to every day?

First and only cup of coffee of the day first thing in the morning. I even travel with my own coffee and tea as I know I can be anywhere in the world and with this cup of coffee, things start right. It’s about enjoying those small moments that count.

If you could change one thing about the industry right now, what would it be?

I am an idealist, I believe in the good, intrinsic value in things – kindness.  Maybe because I am a widow, life is short and fleeting. I would put more focus back into the value of shared media experiences that bring people back together and create a new style of marketing called nurture marketing, where you really feel like brands care through the tone of their communications.

We got lost in the technology to target one at the expense messaging universally and now ChatGPT has potential to make ad copy! You won’t look back in 10 years and wished you’d scrolled more on your phone; you’d wished you spent more time with those you love.

This is why I joined Roku, TV connects us, I don’t feel ‘targeted’ and that feels amazing, and a few more ads if they appeal to my kinder emotions, is a good thing.

**Peer question** What advice would you give your younger self?

Buckle up, you’re in for one heck of a ride for an extraordinary life to become who you are meant to be, and you will learn the resilience to live it.

If you can see the way, you can pave the way – focus on your ability to manifest. And most of all, the critical unhelpful inner voice that comes out way too often and plants seeds of doubt? It’s a belief and beliefs can change and so can you. Look within and ask – is what you are feeding yourself true? Most of the time it is not!  Does anyone know more than you on what you are doing? Then you’ve got this!

When you’re thinking spirals in the wrong direction and plants seeds of doubt, nip it in the bud ASAP!  Mastering your inner voice and moulding it into a positive encouraging companion is a lifelong journey that you have to actively manage every single day. It will not get easier, you will get better, and it will be worth it, you’re getting closer to your most authentic self!

** Question from Ed Couchman, current UK general manager at Snap, but soon moving to become Spotify’s head of ad sales for Northern Europe.

**Peer question** Who would you say had the most influence in your career? and why?

I couldn’t possibly single out one individual, so it has to be my LinkedIn Network. I connect with some of the most prolific individuals in the industry worldwide and engage directly with them: Les Binet, Mark Ritson, Rory Sutherland, Dr Grace Kite, and Byron Sharp for marketing effectiveness and amazing women in Data Science like Cassie Kozyrkov.

My recent favourite for easily digestible and witty info is from Evan Shapiro and when I need a really good belly laugh at the UK media scene, it has to be Rob Mayhew.

These people keep me contemporary, widen my perspective, enlighten me to challenge or reaffirm my own perceptions. I also get the most up to date facts, figures, hot off the press and trending information. I had to think hard to name more women who are consistently coming up in my feed.

We need young girls to be taught to be comfortable with our voice and thoughts broadcast for all to see and hear.  I can understand why that is difficult having experienced it first hand, it takes a lot of energy to handle the guts and the glory and bravely keep going.

** Question from Jean-Philippe Amos, managing director EMEA & global brand partnerships Mediabridge.

What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?

There’s quite a few that come up. The most common ones are: how is streaming TV and streaming TV advertising measured and is first party census device data better than panel-based measurement solutions for streaming TV?

History repeats itself continually with measurement debates, I like to think we are getting closer to solutions that can meet all kinds of buyer mindsets and need states based on their industry, brand and category maturity in effective ways.

**Peer question** What if anything is your business planning on doing differently in 2023?

We just launched Roku branded TVs in the USA at CES this month, it looks like more TV streaming is on the horizon!

** Question from Richard Bon, UK managing director and Europe commercial lead at Clear Channel.

Outside your own company, who is doing really well?

The gas and electricity companies in England, and for all the wrong reasons! I hope this gets rectified.

If you are asking about media brands, I would say Spotify – they are making excellent hires and, of course, The Media Leader.

Media Jobs