Martech Interview with Co-Founder and VP of Strategic Partnership, OnePortal – Steve Wharton

Steve Wharton from OnePortal talks about the importance of data in today’s digital advertising industry and how OnePortal is contributing to the Adtech industry.

As technologies advanced, the amount of data collected has allowed for targeting and audience segmentation that drives a massive eCommerce economy powered by digital advertising

1. Explain your role in the company and why you call it strategic partnerships?
As VP of Strategic Partnerships, I am responsible for the new revenue generated by our clients. It is my job to build a direct relationship with our clients and develop new relationships with established brands.

2. What is your past career experience and how has that led you to the current role?
I have over fifteen years of experience in the digital marketing industry. I spent my early days at Citysearch and Pandora internet radio, subsequently diving headfirst into the startup world to develop new technologies. I have always looked to increase efficiencies of digital advertising and launching OnePortal to accomplish that has been an amazing journey.

3. How has technology advanced or affected your sector?

As technologies advanced, the amount of data collected has allowed for targeting and audience segmentation that drives a massive eCommerce economy powered by digital advertising.

This data is extremely valuable and is sold off to 3rd parties to further validate and refine. Some people started questioning the level of data collected and how personal it was. These privacy heroes swept in the so-called keepers of your data. Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon… They all started putting privacy policies in place to limit the amount of personally identifiable information and “protect” their users. Essentially, they are putting limitations in place to prevent other companies from accessing their data. This in turn drives up the prices they can charge for their own advertising inventory.

4. Explain how and why you are a data play?
OnePortal leverages data to find the best converting audiences for a given product or brand. We then optimize the ad strategy to make sure we are using the most efficient ad units to capture the best return on investment.

5. What are some of your Martech predictions for 2021 and beyond?
This is such an exciting time in digital advertising. I feel we are coming out of the wild west and reigning in an industry that has changed everyone’s lives over the last ten years. Short-form video will continue to play a huge role in branding and performance marketing. Companies like TikTok will overtake some very established players. First-party data will still reign supreme but universal IDs will be standardized to still allow cross-device attribution. OnePortal continues to grow into a strong alternative or complement to your social digital advertising strategy.

6. Explain your recent experience in launching a DTC company last year in the middle of the Pandemic?
Oh man, I launched as a side hobby during the early days of the pandemic to fully understand what my DTC clients were experiencing. The experience was truly eye opening. Before your brand can even think about marketing, you need to ensure your supply chain, customer service, and back end are all in order. Additionally, the experience gave me first hand experience at running campaigns through social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. We continue to grow our brand so make sure to check us out at and on socials @dadthat.

7. Explain what a Full-Funnel marketing strategy is?
Initially targeting a wide audience to see what sub-segments yield buying signals then move those users through to conversion by sequential messaging or retargeting.

8. Why do you need both human expertise oversight and Machine Learning?
A machine learning algorithm is only as good as the data used to train it. Having a human provide a supervised learning environment ensures the highest level of results are being achieved.

9. What advice would you give another tech startup or DTC company?
The key for me has been to build relationships with other founders. They will be able to provide insight that your friends and family will overlook. For example, When things look absolutely crazy, a founder will tell you to push through and ignore the negativity.

10. What work-related life hacks have you found useful especially since you are a father of three?
Ha!! Love this… Two things. For Christmas my wife jokingly bought me a phone holder that hangs around your neck and allows your hands to be free. I found it to be incredibly useful for video chats since you can position the holder to be level with your face. However, I think the best life hack is to have a door on your dedicated workspace. Out of sight out of mind.

11. How does OnePortal create & maintain healthy company culture?
Building a company during the pandemic has been extremely difficult. It’s not for everyone! We have maintained a healthy culture through constant communication and trust. We all gather monthly at my home and have a company offsite which has been invaluable.

12. What kind of changes from the pandemic do you think will become permanent such as working from home and zoom calls?
I think that this pandemic truly advanced our workplace years ahead by forcing everyone to work remotely. However, there is still a major need for personal relationships. I feel the future of work is having a flexible working arrangement where people come into an office on certain days or as needed,thereby making the time we are able to spend together as a team even more valuable. Being a seller at heart, I now have an even stronger appreciation for in-person client-facing relationships.

13. What advice would you like to give to technology Start Ups?
Don’t do it. Ha! Just kidding! Make sure you have a great team in place that will challenge you. Solve for a problem and don’t stop.

14. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Learn all you can about AI and look for areas in your business where it can be deployed to reduce costs. Understand that leveraging technology to help make data driven decisions is designed to help humans out–especially in areas where there are repetitive actions. However, the human always needs to have ultimate control and oversight.

15. Can you give us a glance at the applications you use on your phone?

  1. Calm – For sleeping and meditating
  2. Venmo
  3. Reddit
  4. TikTok
  5. Shopify
  6. Star Walk
  7. Pandora, Apple Music
  8. Nanit
  9. Canva
  10. Sonos
  11. DJI GO 4
  12. Slack
  13. Copper CRM
  14. A ton of home automation apps.

Steve Wharton is Co-founder and VP of Strategic Partnerships at OnePortal, a growth marketing platform that combines digital advertising with human expertise. The multi-channel solution leverages proprietary technology to make it easy for companies to expand their presence on the open web. It provides access to premium inventory, with advanced audience targeting capabilities, operating as a flexible extension of your team and partners with clients to deliver results. Steve is an AdTech industry veteran with more than fifteen years of industry experience. He is a Pandora Radio alumnus where he worked with the performance advertising team. Steve has a penchant for e-commerce and starting entrepreneurial endeavors. He is also the Founder and President of SAW Ventures LLC, a holding company for various eCommerce companies, which includes, an e-commerce company that supports Dads as positive role models for their kids.

OnePortal, is a digital advertising application that combines real-time bidding with human expertise. They help companies take their digital advertising beyond search and other social media platforms.
Their multi-channel solution leverages proprietary technology to make it easier for companies to expand their presence on the Open Internet.
Their application provides access to premium inventory, with advanced audience targeting capabilities, operating as a flexible extension of your business and partners with clients to deliver results.

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