MarTech Edge Interview with Michael Grossi, Chief Executive Officer, Operative | Martech Edge | Best News on Marketing and Technology
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MarTech Edge Interview with Michael Grossi, Chief Executive Officer, Operative


MarTech Edge Interview with Michael Grossi, Chief Executive Officer, Operative


Published on 10th Oct, 2023

Hey, Michael! It’s impressive that you’ve spent three decades in the telecom, media, and tech (TMT) sectors. Could you share your experiences and accomplishments from your time in this field?

My early career was in TMT strategy consulting, focusing heavily on telecom, specifically mobile, a booming technology on the heels of the dot com build-up. I helped leading companies like AT&T, Sprint, and Disney develop transformational growth strategies. Upon making Partner at Adventis, I joined Helio to help launch and commercialize many industry-first mobile products, including Google Maps, BuddyBeacon, YouTube, and MySpace Mobile. This was an exciting time as mobile and digital were converging, and new business models were being established.

The space grew very quickly, and I saw first-hand how to lead through high growth in complex situations. I led various functions like Sales, Marketing, IR, Strategy, Business Development, and Product. Since then, I have served as a CEO and Board Member for a number of technology companies. Many of the companies I have led were eventually acquired, which has given me great experience in reading the market and understanding how to differentiate in a competitive field. My experience has also shown that the most successful companies are ones that are laser-focused on providing highly innovative solutions that provide a differentiated customer experience.

You started your career as a Captain in the US Air Force. That’s amazing! How did your military experience shape your leadership and strategy skills in the civilian sector?

The military has many similarities to the business world but with more structure and, of course, a more urgent need to successfully accomplish the mission. Every detail matters, and doing your very best isn’t just about you but about your team and your larger mission.

My experience gave me a deep appreciation for teamwork and capable leadership. I also have seen the value of strong execution, helping teams accomplish goals faster and more successfully. I also deeply understand the need to have a strong financial foundation with a focus on profitability. In technology sectors, you need to take calculated risks, where you may succeed or fail. The key is to fail fast, learn from it, and improve next time.

How does Operative help media companies and publishers boost revenue by moving away from the old ratings-based approach to a results-driven, outcome-based strategy?

For years, media companies have been dealing with a combination of disconnected approaches. Many advertisers still use TV ratings to buy linear ad inventory. At the same time, digital, CTV, and FAST channels have introduced more outcome-based measurement opportunities. This divergence led Operative to introduce an order management system that unifies sales, inventory, and operations into a single platform. This dramatically streamlines complexity for media companies and allows them to get a holistic view of their work with a specific advertiser or agency across all media channels.

Now, brands are looking to go a step further. They want to buy using new outcome currencies across a publisher’s product catalog. And they need always-on access to the metrics, with normalized data, to more easily track attribution and outcomes. Having a unified platform makes this possible.

Operative is also built to work with media companies no matter what stage they are in. AOS is the first cloud-based revenue management system that works with a media company’s current technology, so companies don’t have to rip out old technology if they aren’t ready. They can choose to take a phased, modular approach, tackling their specific problem areas sequentially.

Can you share some insights into how you’ve tweaked the company’s business strategies and what tangible results these changes have brought about?

Operative has a number of solutions for media companies around the world. We provide software for linear, digital, and multi-channel media companies — large and small — and have over $60B of advertising flowing through our systems. However, I’ve focused the company on the future and our key growth opportunities, which are digital and streaming services. Operative AOS is cloud native and built to be open, providing the flexibility and scale that media companies need to process the enormous amount of data that digital channels throw off. At the same time, we have many industry-leading digital products like OperativeOne that power the order management systems for the largest streaming service providers like Hulu, Disney+, and Warner Brothers Discovery. We have products like STAQ that provide critical benchmarking data on ad buying trends. These products will continue to be an important part of our strategy.

Looking ahead, we are curious about your take on the upcoming trends and opportunities in media operations. How does Operative plan to seize these opportunities and stay ahead of the curve?

I am excited to share that we’ve recently announced a partnership with DanAds, creating the first cloud-based self-service workflow for publishers. Together with DanAds, we empower publishers to give their buyers direct access to their inventory directly in their order management system.

I believe this is a major part of the future, as more media buyers are asking for control and transparency over their media buying. The beauty of our offering is that publishers can give brands what they want while still maximizing their own yield.

Could you outline your future objectives and strategies for Operative?

Operative sits at the center of a media company’s revenue operation, and with that, we play a vital role in their growth and success. Our objective is to continue to deliver solutions that make it easier and more profitable for media companies to sell advertising. We’re expanding our cloud-based offering — for example, AOS now works for FAST. And we’re partnering with more companies across the industry to ensure that integrations are never a barrier to entry for our clients.

You’ve had your fair share of experience as a C-Suite executive across various brands. From your perspective, what do you believe are the key qualities that make someone a successful business leader?

Every leader has their own approach, and many styles have been proven successful. However, in my experience, there are some common factors. First, a successful leader assembles a great team. I know that the people on my team are experts in their field and have proven success that directly translates to the work we are doing at Operative. 

I like to focus on a few critical goals rather than running around fighting fires. Prioritization and focus help speed up growth and help with problem-solving and innovation. I also practice clear communication. Having a strong vision and communicating that vision helps keep everyone working toward a common goal.