Vineet Mehra

Gerhard Louw

Gerhard Louw



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Trendsetters: Deutsche Telekom's Gerhard Louw Discusses the Excitement & Challenges of the Digitization of Advertising & Media

Gerhard Louw, Senior Manager of International Media Management & Digital Transformation at Deutsche Telekom Group, admits that both the exciting and challenging aspects of his work stem from the digitization of advertising and media. "It's a fairly broad concept, but, for me, digitization is about how technology and data transform everything in our business: the way consumers connect with brands, the way advertisers can and should use data and technology to expand their toolbox from mass communication to individualized communication, as well as the role of agencies and suppliers in the transformation process." 

 Louw has recently been named the co-chair of the World Federation of Advertisers Media Forum, where he'll work alongside incumbent chairman, Ben Jankowski, Group Head of Global Media at Mastercard. The new, dual committee chair roles reflect the heavy workload of the group, and the huge number of media issues that major multinational marketers have needed to address of late, particularly in regard to the digital media landscape.

 Gerhard Louw has already played a key role in the work of the Media Forum, making critical contributions to recent efforts on programmatic advertising issues and ad fraud. According to Stephan Loerke, WFA CEO: "Gerhard, like Ben, has given his expertise selflessly to help make our industry better, and I know that together they will continue to improve the impact that the Media Forum has on all members."  The WFA Media Forum now boasts over 700 global and regional contacts across North America, Europe and Asia.

 Louw believes that the challenges he faces at Deutsche Telekom are very similar to the issues most advertisers face today.  He says, "Our concerns start with the two most fundamental questions: 1. What are the changes digitization brings?  2. What should I do about this change in my role for my organization?  Advertisers, especially media and marketing professionals are saying: ‘There is so much change and there is so much we need to do differently in our organizations. I want to talk about these challenges and experiences with other professionals who are struggling with the same questions--in a way that is open and without ulterior motives or hidden agendas.'"

For more than 10 years, Gerhard Louw has been part of Deutsche Telekom's team based in Bonn. Currently, he is responsible for steering and co-ordinating the international media function for the Deutsche Telekom Group across its 13 national telecommunication companies in Europe.

He adds, "I find it interesting to see how the ‘shiny new thing' becomes ‘business-as-usual' very quickly. Think of search advertising, digital ads, paid social media, video ads, mobile ads, native ads, influencer marketing, content marketing.  Each of these were new, strange, unknown and untested not so long ago. Today they are part of our advertising and media toolbox. The next 3 years will all be about the way advertisers can and should use data and technology to expand their toolbox--from mass communication to individualized communication."

Despite the promise of change and an extraordinary workload, Gerhard Louw is enthusiastic. "Never has there been more opportunities for as advertisers to change the way we do advertising and media. What is there NOT to love about that?" 

A South African native, Gerhard speaks four languages and has recently published his first book, a practical guide for immigrants wanting to find their feet and integrate in Germany.

Upcoming WFA Media Forums include:  Shanghai on July 12th, New York on October 26th, and a European location to be announced for November 29th.