LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Billy Campbell, the former president of Discovery Networks and a longtime TV executive who did stints at Miramax Television, CBS and ABC, is shifting his focus from the living room to the mall. This week Mr. Campbell was named president of Akoo International, a digital out-of-home media company primarily based in food courts at 180 malls and universities in 62 of the country's top markets.
Digital out-of-home media has recently seen a recent frenzy of out-of-home industry acquisitions, mergers and major in-store content plays by retailers like Starbucks and Walmart.
Akoo's ad-supported Akoo Social Television network plays music videos, artist interviews and original content, encouraging viewers to interact with the network in real time using their mobile phones. It has worked with advertisers like Microsoft Xbox 360, McDonald's, Verizon, Best Buy, 20th Century Fox and Clear Wireless to create interactive versions of their 30-second TV spots, integrating call-to-action messages and custom overlays that play on top of content.
During his five-year tenure as president of Discovery Networks, Mr. Campbell oversaw the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet as well as the launch and production of popular franchises like "Deadliest Catch," "Dirty Jobs," "Mythbusters," "Planet Earth" and "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Since leaving Discovery in early 2007 after David Zaslav took the reins at the parent company, Discovery Communications, Mr. Campbell has been serving on the boards of education-based social network ePals and radio company Citadel as well as consulting for Royal Caribbean cruises. He also recently produced a musical version of "Robin and the Seven Hoods" that premiered this summer in San Diego and is being prepped for a trip to Broadway next year. But getting back to programming was always a priority.
"The reason I loved my involvement with content and programming is I love storytelling," Mr. Campbell said. "I love programming and I love that strategy and I love that interaction with the audience. One of the things besides the technology and engagement level of Akoo was the symbiotic relationship it has with its audience. I think the programming opportunities are endless."
Mr. Campbell's time at Discovery, during which revenue grew to $1.2 billion from $680 million, caught Akoo's attention. "We're really excited to see somebody with the background Billy brings in as an executive with his passion and excitement about programming," said Niko Drakoulis, Akoo's founder and CEO. "He's done a great job in developing some shows known all over the world."
Despite all the mergers and acquisitions in digital out-of-home media, Mr. Campbell said he thinks Akoo can grow organically with the footprint it's got.
"If we don't grow another ounce or another inch in terms of distribution for the next year I have absolutely no problem with that," he said. "We're reaching about 70% of the country, including college students, in 55 of the top 56 DMAs and last month we reached 91 million people. I've got plenty of eyeballs coming in. Now it's just building those partnerships and making sure those relationships work for both parties."