Freeman Departs Tribal for Ad Network GoFish

Tribal DDB CEO Matt Freeman has left the Omnicom Group digital operation to become chief executive at GoFish, an online ad network.

Paul Gunning, formerly president of Tribal DDB East, succeeds Freeman as the worldwide CEO at Tribal. Liz Ross, who was president of its West region, moves into the role of president of Tribal DDB U.S. and global chief marketing officer.

GoFish, based in San Francisco, boasts 66 million users per month for its network. It specializes in targeting messages to mothers and children, running ads on sites such as casual gaming property and virtual world WeeWorld. Freeman will continue to be based in New York.

“What attracted me to them is I saw all the other ad networks are chasing CPC and direct-marketing dollars,” Freeman said. “Their average user engagement is five times [that of] the other ad networks. I saw an opportunity for an ad net that focuses on brand advertising.”

Freeman was a founder of Tribal DDB Worldwide in 1998, when it launched as the digital arm of DDB. It has since grown into a global network with 45 offices, 1,500 employees and $250 million in sales.

Gunning said he expects continuity at Tribal, pointing to the stability of its top management team. One area he has earmarked for development: linking Tribal’s many disparate offices into a more cohesive offering for clients seeking global digital work.

“I have a little bit of a different skill set from Matt in that I’m quite good at driving the businesses together and working directly with clients and helping them understand the value of interactive,” he said.

Freeman becomes the second longtime interactive agency CEO to recently leave for an emerging media company. Organic chief executive Mark Kingdon exited the agency last month to take on the role of CEO at Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life.

“The honest truth is I’m a pretty entrepreneurial guy,” Freeman said. “At a certain point, if you’re successful, you want to be an entrepreneur again.”