Mark Frost

Mark Frost

Work History

Work History
Sep 2003 - Present

Digital Programme Director

EMAP

For most of my time at EMAP I have been the designated ‘digital guy’ as I have the most experience in designing, developing, launching digital businesses. I am currently developing digital projects across three of the four divisions within EMAP – radio, lifestyle, and B2B. I am responsible for shepherding digital projects from strategic direction to idea generation, through ‘option-to-play’ development, and to launch if appropriate. I am currently spending most of my time on a pre-launch e-commerce project in the B2B fashion space.

Previously I was responsible for the profit and loss of a portfolio of consumer and business-to-business automotive media products that included magazines, websites, mobile offerings, database businesses, and events that deliver approximately £12M profit annually. In this portfolio of businesses it was my responsibility to manage the traditional products as efficiently as possible to deliver growth that could fuel new, cross-platform businesses. Two examples of the kind of work I did in that role are the expansion of the Parker’s Online Price Guide and the CAR brand.

The Parker’s print product has been in a state of decline for almost eight years and the launch of a ‘skunkworks’ website proved that there was a significant audience for Parker’s in the digital world. We redesigned the site using much of my experience in web heuristics, and integrated a cars-for-sale business. Traffic has now grown to 2M unique users per month generating over 20M page impressions – arguably the UK’s most-used consumer automotive website. Profits from advertising grew 110 percent in the subsequent 18 months and the cars for sale feature now makes up a third of the revenue of the site. This is generating £4M in ad revenue alone.

CAR Magazine is also a good example. This magazine, like most targeting men, has also been in decline for years. We decided to build a website that would compliment the magazine and vice versa – each taking advantage of their respective platforms. The magazine sacrificed a quarter of its pages, giving up news and listings to the website as the web was better suited and focused on deeper coverage and analysis and higher quality images and reproduction. And with the savings in postage, printing and paper we increased the quality of the paper and finishing of the magazine and made it bigger in format. We also launched the website using open-source technologies to keep costs low and hosted the site in the US where market conditions meant hosting costs were under £20 per month! Using connections of mine we were able to launch the new site for less than £4,000. The site now satisfies 370,000 unique users each month who generate just under 4M page impressions. Revenues for the website this first full year will be around $.5M. The magazine was repositioned upmarket out of the reach of Top Gear and the cover price increased by 30p. We have increased our global footprint for the brand by securing licensees in South Africa, India, Greece, Mexico, and Russia in the past 18 months. In terms of results, not only has the website become the de facto site for automotive buffs due to its breaking news and spy shots, but the magazine has earned an increase in circulation and won several prestigious awards for design and content. And the business? Increase in profit year on year of 34 percent -- the first growth in profit for CAR since it was purchased by EMAP.

·Member of the Specialist Executive, the EMAP Consumer Media Leadership Team, and the EMAP PLCLeadership Group.

·P&L responsibility for £34M revenue, £12M profit division

·Managed a team of 150 people including ad sales, retail, marketing, editorial, technical, and production staff

Strategic lead for digital efforts within EMAP Consumer Media, and primary source for helping guide the divisional Digital Directors

2002 - Present

Founder

Wonky

My contract with EMAP allows me to perform some limited consulting engagements with prior approval. I provide consultancy services in the media/technology space, particularly in the area of digital channel fusion – where single media brands/products could span intelligently across multiple platforms. Projects included helping YLE, the Finnish public broadcaster, develop a DTV/DAB/mobile application; and the Swedish Film Institute working on the launch of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation by defining, testing, and targeting the pitch for initial funding, as well as the translation, digitisation, and DRM watermarking of the archive for eventual subscription-based academic access. I have also completed two short-term projects as a sub-contractor for two mobile telecommunication companies regarding 3G content and service provision. One of these was a very early engagement to define the most preferable content and service strategy, as well as specific partners in this space. The other engagement was also early stage and was focused exclusively on m-commerce applications with an eye towards fronting third-party applications as a ‘mall operator’ rather than as a ‘shop owner.’

2000 - 2002

MD, Digital Development

Capital Radio Group

I was headhunted out of the BBC to develop a digital strategy for CRG and launch where appropriate. I used the existing brands as a launch platform to conduct cost-effective platforms for experiments in possible online and mobile ventures exploiting radio audiences. During this time we launched profitable web-based brand extensions for the top-three existing radio brands, and cost neutral marketing sites for the rest of the group. We then launched much more profitable implementations of SMS mechanics for use by three existing analogue radio businesses for competitions etc. Eventually we developed an all-digital, automated radio play out system that utilised existing radio programming methodology to create products that really were radio, not just jukeboxes. This system we developed allowed us to launch DAB and online radio stations in a very cost-effective manner. It was also used to retro fit our traditional analogue stations with significant ongoing cost savings through networking of programming and engineering functions and syndication of our best on-air talent across the group. RAJAR results increased across the board and costs dropped. This new digital production infrastructure spawned an estimated £7M gross annual savings across the group.

Whilst developing this we encountered serious problems attaining licenses from the publishers and record companies. I negotiated the first online play out rights in the UK…with no cash cost. We then developed the relationship further by video taping live gigs across London that we exploited online and sold back to the record companies for their use in marketing their acts. To do this we developed a very cost-effective multi-camera suite for both live and time-delayed broadcast and included a portable, all-digital editing suite so we could deliver streamed or canned edits of live shows in very short timetables – this turned out to be a relatively lucrative little business as no one else provided such a service in the musdic industry at the time.

·Member of the Group Executive Committee

·P&L responsibility for £3M division (ad, retail, licensing revenues and value-ad marketing for analogue radio stations)

·Managed a team of 65 people including ad sales, retail, marketing, editorial, technical, video and audio broadcast engineering and production, radio programming, OB staff

·Lead negotiations for the licensing of content and technology for digital platforms

·Lead significant technical projects involving software development and country-wide roll-out (web serving, authoring, web radio, SMS, 3G, DAB)

·Lead research into specific qualities of different encoding systems and formats

Responsible for editorial vision and execution

1998 - 2000

Head of Online

BBC

I was headhunted out of AOL to help launch BBC Online. I inherited a team of commissioners with a budget of over £11M. Sadly, none of these commissioners knew anything about the web and no one seemed to be keeping track of the balance of the budget – I had inherited a messy situation. I stopped all new projects until we discovered how much budget we had left, and had developed a strategic approach towards spending going forward. At the time we only had approval to build a proof of concept with the budget, after which the DCMS would determine if the license fee could be used for online thereafter. So we quickly developed a strategy that would give us the kind of offering that would secure ongoing DCMS approval. To do this we had to stop the existing system of paying expensive TV executives to learn how to code HTML and other such craziness. We developed an effective content production system and a means of mixing some digital natives with experienced BBC production staff who were seconded to my group until they could prove they knew what they were doing. We also developed a boilerplate commission structure so there was a single price for each element of each website commissioned. This brought our economic and stregic houses in order. Then we moved into a massive launch phase, building more websiotes than any other organisation in the world in that year. At the time I managed a staff of more than 65 people, including technology, editorial, design, marketing, and research, to develop BBC’s online and DTV propositions. It was then my task to embed digital thinking amongst the governors, and the heads of the divisions. I was then tasked to lead the public review process to ensure we had public support for BBC Online – this meant touring around and consulting everyone from members of the W.I in Cheshire, to shmoozing MPs at the banquet hall. Of course, we succeeded in the DCMS review. The result was the creation of websites that continue to deliver the largest audience to a European content site at one of the lowest cost/impression ratios in the world. Defined and developed the organisation’s requirements for its latest-generation production systems spanning the internet, digital text, mobile, and digital TV.

·P&L responsibility for £21M division (commissioning provision to be spread across Online, News, and Education. Established KPI of cost/impression

·Managed a team of 65 people made up of technical (including DTV development and design), editorial, marketing

·Lead negotiations for SLA’s with Production, B&P, technology and content providers

·Secured approval of service from the DCMS

·Lead significant technical projects involving software development such as requirements phase of pan-BBC content production system for WWW, DTV, DAB

·Responsible for all third-party contracts related to online

Responsible for editorial vision and execution

1997 - 1998

Content/Commerce Director

AOL/Timewarner/Bertelsmann

I was originally brought over from California as a consultant for Bertelsmann to assess the pre-launch development of AOL UK and AOL Sweden. The UK/Swedish management team was made up of AOL employees and Bertelsmann wanted their own person there assessing progress. After four days of interviewing the management and staff I reported my findings and recommendations to Bertelsmann. They asked me to extend my trip to London for two days and then asked me if I would stay to implement my recommendations and gave me an offer I could not refuse. I have been in the UK ever since.

I went on to manage an organisation of more than 45 editorial, artistic, retail, and technical people. We changed the way AOL commissioned content as most potential suppliers were already developing for the web so the cost to convert them to AOL technologies was prohibitive and the results poor. We commissioned content feeds only (proprietary where possible) and batch processed these through either HTML or P3 (AOL proprietary markup protocol) templates instead of teaching content providers how to make complete pages. Our cost/impression dropped significantly and allowed us to invest more broadly in better, more exclusive content. During this time, the AOL UK audience grew from 100,000 to just over 600,000, faster even than AOL Germany. We then launched the first e-commerce and ad sales operations for an audience aggregator in the UK. Finally, we were the first AOL in the world to stream live video content. Through a contact of mine at BBC News, we secured rights to broadcast online the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales without charge. And through a contact of mine at AOL in Virginia we were able to access an experimental means of streaming video across the AOL network. This project resulted in the most widely seen online video broadcast for years to come.

·P&L responsibility for £3M division (ad, sponsorship, retail and licensing revenues). Also responsible for cost control of all licensed content and services to build subscriber numbers.

·Managed a team of 45 people made up of technical (including audio broadcast engineering), editorial, community, design staff

·Lead significant technical projects involving software development (e-commerce, streaming audio)

·Lead negotiations for SLA’s with AOL US and third-party content providers

·Responsible for editorial vision and execution

·Primary contact for all security and legal issues related to user behaviour

1996 - 1997

Founder

Wonky

After selling my share of The Net Magazine, I spent time travelling across the eastern Sahara. Upon my return, I was approached by both Apple and Microsoft to help develop their respective digital media products. Products such as QuickTime (Apple) and SoftImage and Windows Media Player (Microsoft) were the result. From this I developed a significant consulting business. I became a bridge between Silicon Valley and Hollywood enterprises as both saw the other as a key partner in growth, but lacked a common language of how to go about it. Much of my work involved the development of production tools and their integration within the Hollywood community, and helping media production units determine which solutions offered best value. Clients include IBM, Ernst and Young, SVT, BAT, WHSmiths, Disney, Microsoft, Apple Computer, Netscape Communications, Informix, NetObjects, Autodesk, Eagle River Interactive, Macromedia, OnLive!, willisville, Vivid Studios, the American Film Institute, and more. Significant projects:

·Development of two commercial web authoring systems

·Development of first portable animation pre-visualisation platform

·Integration of traditional effects systems with new desktop effects and editing systems

·Developed first desktop-based automated colour-correction system for film

·Developed numerous business-case scales for determining buy/lease/outsource of film and TV editing and effects systems

·Trained and managed production managers and staff in practical methods of incorporating desktop systems into traditional media production processes.

·Trained technology companies in the industry practices of film and TV production so that their products would be better suited to existing conditions and methods.

1994 - 1996

Editor, The Net Magazine

Imagine Publishing

While working for Ziff Davis, I was approached by Chris Anderson, recently of Future Publishing, to launch a magazine and website about the internet. I was responsible for the vision, scope, and basic design goals of The Net magazine, as well as its online and CD-ROM entities. This team of only six people, through wise use of basic automation, delivered a monthly magazine, a CD-ROM, and a website. It was very popular and developed an extensive cult audience but it was not a breakthrough in terms of profit. Online opportunities abounded and I felt that I needed to explore the new platform and divorce myself from print for the time being. This turned out to be a very wise decision.

1991 - 1994

Senior Editor

Ziff-Davis Publishing

Responsible for planning and assigning lab-based features. Managed lab/edit relationship. Areas of expertise included multimedia, storage, digital video/animation/audio/web production. Initiated MacUser CD-ROM and WWW projects. It was here where I really honed my ability to act as tabula raza between consumers, technologists, and creatives….this skill has been of great value to me ever since.

Education

Education
1998 - 2000

Certificate

I was enrolled in a 'mini-MBA' programme at Ashridge and also participated in numerous other relevant coursework there during this period.

1992 - 1993

Stanford University

I attended a collection of courses in the field of publishing and writing thorugh Stanford's post-graduate business extension department.

1987 - 1989

BA, Journalism

San Francisco State University

Attained a BA degree in Journalism, with special focus on magazine writing, design, and publishing.

1985 - 1987

AA

West Valley Junior College

Here I got my introduction to both journalism, and desktop publishing.

Interest

I am very interested in history and archeology, restoring classic motorcycles, travel, food, and restoring my olive and chestnut farm.

Summary

I am a seasoned executive with particular skills in developing and executing multi-platform media strategies. I believed at a very early point in my career that the ability to choreograph and interweave complimentary propositions on different platforms, or channel fusion as it is now called, would be very valuable. Over the intervening years I have made a point to gain experience and experiment in every media platform. I then made it my business to put into practice the theory of channel fusion. The result is a clear understanding of the unique differences of each platform and how they can work together so that one plus one equals three. It is the combination of this experience, and my natural state as an ideas engine that make up the core of the value I bring to an organisation. It would be true to say that I am a pretty driven person but conversations with anyone who has worked with me in the past would reveal that I am considered the kind of manager who inspires those around me to give their very best.