The Fishbowl: Rob Biagioni, Time Out Media UK
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 Rob Biagioni, sales managing director at Time Out Media, UK.
Rob Biagioni joined Time Out Media as managing director, sales UK, in 2022 to oversee all of the brand’s advertising platforms, including media sales, creative solutions, programmatic, live events, local marketing solutions and ecommerce.
Biagioni was previously commercial director at Future and prior to that was group client director at Time Inc Media.
He has also held senior commercial roles at John Brown Media, City AM, and Express Newspapers.
Who is the smartest person you know?
From a professional level, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible people over the years (and still do).
The standout person for me, with the biggest impact on my career in sales, has to be the late and great Gary Savage. He was sales director of the Sunday Express and back then we had many discussions and debates… I don’t recall winning many of them but early in my career this helped me to learn some of his tactics which I still employ today.
What would you want the title of your biography to be?
Nothing Good Ever Happened After Midnight.
Which advertiser would you love to work with (but don’t already) and how would you sell Time Out specifically to them?
Time Out is an iconic brand with unique content and a valuable audience and this attracts some of the world’s greatest brands which we develop bespoke campaigns for across our multiple channels. We take pride in our ability to collaborate with our partners; the out-of-the box opportunities we create, the credible routes to our audience’s passions which we devise and deliver, and the authentic ways we connect partners with city life around the world (we now cover content across 333 cities in 59 countries).
Time Out is the only global city-focused media brand and people come to us for inspiration on the best of the city: what to do, what to eat, what to drink, where to go, what to watch and so on — they are experience-hungry, they love going out and they want to discover the city.
With that in mind, a destination-based partnership with an airline would be a great fit. I’d also love to work with an advertiser like Diageo; we work with certain brands in their portfolio already but, as a parent group, they have a drink for all occasions, and we really could have some creative fun together.
**Peer question** How are you embracing Diversity & Belonging in your organisation?
I think one of the main attractions for working at Time Out is the culture at the heart of which is inclusivity and diversity — Time Out was founded in the 1960s by Tony Elliott who was passionate about these important topics, so it’s always been in our DNA. Time Out is a reflection of the cities we are in which are melting pots of different cultures, people, ideas and experiences. It’s a constant conversation in the leadership team to ensure we maintain this heritage. We pride ourselves on an open environment with everyone having a voice, and we believe that diversity develops creativity and enables personal as well as professional growth.
Question from Jane Wolfson, chief commercial officer at Hearst UK.
**Peer question** What job in the industry do you LEAST envy and why?
Without a doubt, the incredible job which project managers do. At Time Out, we have the most creative teams, both in commercial partnerships and content, that I have ever worked with.
Our team of project managers have to then implement their ideas and bring them to life with creativity and the highest quality delivery. It’s beyond me how they stay sane and always produce outstanding work. Huge respect to them!
Question from Craig Tuck, chief revenue officer at Ozone.
If you didn’t work in publishing, which other media sector could you see yourself working in?
I’d enjoy being an old-school agency buyer as I love a good negotiation and a beer afterwards. Okay, I get that’s still publishing…
So I’ll settle with global marketing director of Ferrari. An amazing brand and, in addition, Maranello as a location to live and work in would be a huge attraction.
What are clients most excited about right now?
Personalisation and first party data are always hot topics but at Time Out we play a hybrid role, almost like an agency and bring that together with original story-telling that brings brands to life, connecting them with our audience in unique ways. This is something our clients are excited about as we deliver bespoke and creative solutions for them, tapping into all the exciting things we do at Time Out and that they can be part of.
**Peer question** If you could click your fingers and change one thing about the way your company operates, what would it be?
Although Time Out is a global business we tend to operate on a geographical basis — which, in many cases, makes perfect sense given we’re a global brand with a local voice. However, I would like to run a Time Out global brands summit with 10 or so of our partners to discuss and work out ways to all work together on a global platform across Time Out Media and Time Out Markets (there are seven open Markets and currently eight new sites signed, with more to come). This impactful mix of digi-physical channels, marrying amazing editorial content with our growing hospitality business, sets us apart and provides unique advertising opportunities that no other brand can offer including digital reach and real-life experiences to elevate our advertising offerings.
Question from Dave Randall, commercial director at Future.
What’s your favourite ad of all-time (specific to your sector)?
Cadbury’s gorilla playing In the Air Tonight is one of my favourites and Coca Cola’s Holidays Are Coming ad is unforgettable.
**Peer question** If you won £10m on the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
After the Sunseeker purchase (it’s always been a dream, and probably always will be), I’d invest in different media business start-ups. I love helping businesses build and grow and see their innovation and ideas come to life.
Question from Ryan Rummery, commercial DAX director at Global.