Twitter Hires New Global Head of Brands Away From Mar Tech Company Amobee as Revenues Increase

Katie Ford to manage advertising efforts and key accounts

Predecessor Melissa Barnes is now MD of Canada and Latin America. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Social messaging platform Twitter announced the latest in a string of executive hires this week, bringing on Katie Ford as its new global head of brands.

She had been chief client officer at Amobee, an independent platform combining social, programmatic and TV services to provide “streamlined, advanced media planning capabilities” to ad buyers. Prior to that, she spent more than 24 years at Publicis agencies Leo Burnett, Starcom and Spark Foundry, serving as president of the latter shop and directing major accounts such as P&G and Coca-Cola.

Ford will now oversee the team managing Twitter’s global ad partnerships and key accounts. She succeeds Melissa Barnes, a former Fleishman Hillard executive who has been promoted to managing director of Canada and Latin America.

Ford spent more than 24 years at Publicis agencies.

“Katie will be spearheading Twitter’s Global Brands Team, which drives our most significant partnerships around the world,” read a statement from vp of client solutions Sarah Personette. She called the new hire “a special leader” who will “both support the strength of this team and help set it up for the next phase of growth.”

Said Ford, “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Twitter as head of global brands, where I will have the pleasure of partnering with the world’s biggest brands that are driving innovation at a global scale. There has never been a more exciting time to join the company, and I am looking forward to continuing the momentum established by the team.”

Outside of work, Ford serves on the boards of nonprofit groups including homelessness advocacy organization the Road Home and She Runs It, which focuses on women in leadership positions at media, marketing and technology companies.

Her hire follows those of creative leader Donna Lamar, who will run the company’s in-house studio, and U.S. agency development director Doug Brodman, a former Google executive brought on board to facilitate “business-building opportunities” with top shops and holding companies.

The new hires come as Twitter grows more aggressive in its ad strategy. In 2018, it debuted the hashtag #StartWithThem as part of a retooled pitch to advertisers, focusing on the levels of engagement among its (in)famously passionate user base. “What’s Happening” is another key phrase in its new pitch deck as the company focuses on live events, sports and politics, arguing that paid placements can put brands right in the center of the day’s hottest conversations.

Is that where clients want to be? For some, the answer is clearly yes.

Twitter posted a higher-than-expected 24 percent increase in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018, despite a decline in monthly active users. The company attributed more than half of its 23 percent ad revenue jump to paid video placements, with an attendant rise in the number of active users exposed to ads every day.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.