Interview with Michael Connolly, Co Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sonobi
Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start Sonobi?
Sonobi was started out of the necessity to make us better publishers. Using technology to get more yield out of inventory is where the idea for Sonobi started. It has evolved into a people-based marketing platform but the origins were solving a problem for ourselves.
As a serial entrepreneur, what are the biggest challenges to sustaining growth in the technology industry?
You have to stay ahead of your competitors. Technology moves very fast, so staying in front is never easy.
What is the current state of Mobile Advertising? How does Sonobi deliver on its ROI promises for mobile advertisers and publishers?
Mobile has come a long way. I think, initially, the major barrier to performance was creative. A tiny banner at the bottom of the screen that you accidentally touched wasn’t set up for success. With rich media and more interactive units, the ROI has improved significantly across mobile.
How much have the AdTech operations changed since the arrival of Automation and BI/Analytics tools for advertising campaigns? How do you leverage these tools at Sonobi?
Our primary focus is how to best understand who a user is and then to predict their location on the internet over a given period of time. We evaluate incredible amounts of data to answer these questions.
Which brands do it the best when it comes to leveraging audience data and customer data platforms for omnichannel advertising?
These are going to be brands with lots of first-party data. The leading categories would be telcos and retailers.
Which marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in marketing operations for 2018-2020?
We still do not have a complete solution for a universal ID. FB and Google have massive amounts of addressable inventory. The independent publishers have low scale and many silos. We need some kind of ID that can break through the silos of independent publishers and create a unified alternative to the walled gardens.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
Digital media is an illiquid market. There are a few interesting startups that aim to use blockchain to create more liquidity for media spend.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
We are trying to chart that course in ad tech. Ultimately, an organization needs to embrace technology and learn to master it.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
We are a technology company. You have to adapt and grow with the technology world.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google Calendar is huge, along with any task manager.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
What are you currently reading?
Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, hard copy.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hard to narrow it down to one thing. Probably “Two is one and one is none.” In taking that advice I will give you one more. “It is not good enough until it is right.”
Something you do better than others — the secret of your success?
The secret is a desire to become an expert in every aspect of your role. Anybody can do it. Most people don’t.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Michael! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Michael Connolly, CEO of Sonobi, cofounded the company in 2012 to deliver his vision for the future of advertising. Under his guidance, Sonobi is the leading technology provider of people-based marketing solutions, enabling media transactions against people in ways that are plannable, relevant, predictable, and measurable.
A serial entrepreneur, Michael has a strong background delivering innovative digital media solutions. In 2009, he cofounded Digital Tech Publishing, which generated over 30 million unique visitors and 1.5 billion ad impressions per month before being acquired.
Though product-driven, Michael has deep operational experience, and the rare ability to master details without ever losing sight of the big picture. He possesses a deep understanding of all aspects of Sonobi’s operational and technology systems, and he has created an overarching framework for his company that is forward thinking, innovative, fiscally responsible, and technologically sound.
Michael has spent many years learning to lead under pressure, and his leadership skills are battle-hardened. As an ARMY officer and military aviator, Michael served as a Battle Captain in the Army during the Iraq War. This, combined with his experience as an entrepreneur, has been instrumental in developing his leadership philosophy, which is rooted in integrity, accountability, and adaptability. A 2016 finalist for Ernst and Young’s prestigious entrepreneur of the year, Michael has also been recognized as one of Florida’s most successful young executives under 40.
Sonobi is an advertising technology developer that offers better ways for publishers, media agencies and advertiser brands to drive results and achieve business goals—through user-centric technology and intelligent data—creating more effective advertising and better connections between people and brands. Since 2011, Sonobi has been helping clients and strategic partners from across digital advertising forecast new market opportunity, enhance value delivery to clients, and create more profitable businesses.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.