Martech Interview with Michael Grossi CEO Operative

Media is the most potent medium when it comes to advertising. How can order management systems help media companies accelerate growth?

Trust is the most powerful currency in business and is the foundation of our culture. At Operative, we believe in a constant commitment to continuously build, nurture, and be worthy of trust.

1. Michael, please tell us about your journey in the industry so far.
Very early in my career, I moved to technology, starting in telecommunications. There has been so much innovation and growth, it can be a very exciting industry with opportunities to lead for people who are willing. I first gained strategic leadership experience at companies like Adventis, Helio, and Altman Solon, when the mobile and wireless markets were being established.
This high-growth, high-pressure experience has served me well throughout my career. I have learned how to create clear strategies in the midst of growth and complexity. Companies that are in the middle of a high-growth industry need to be agile to take advantage of new opportunities and scale the company quickly. Having served numerous times in both CEO and board roles at software and technology companies over the last decade, it’s been important to deeply understand client needs and have a strong vision for the market to move at the right time.

2. What are the vision, mission, and values of your company?
● It is Operative’s mission to unlock the full value of media. So many media companies are unable to reach the full potential of their content because their operations are inefficient, their sellers can’t be agile, and they don’t have critical business analytics across their end-to-end sales process. Our solutions empower media companies across all these elements, providing significant yield improvements by optimizing their ad investment and campaigns running on our platforms.
● Our vision is to power how all media companies work. The media world is light-years more complex today than even ten years ago. We see that media companies need to have centralized data and technology to optimize yield across screens and inventory types and to feed into larger business models and strategies.
● To realize this vision, we need to live our values. We aim to be our best selves, to bring our best selves to work every day, operating genuinely, inclusively, and kindly. We are all human, and we need to listen to each other and work together with urgency and enthusiasm. In addition to our values for an inclusive and healthy work environment for our team, we strive to collaborate closely with our customers. Working hand-in-hand, we build the transformative tools delivered with an unrivaled customer experience that our customers rely on to be successful now and in the future.

Trust is the most powerful currency in business and is the foundation of our culture. At Operative, we believe in a constant commitment to continuously build, nurture, and be worthy of trust.

None of this is possible unless we all accept the inherent uncertainties in front of us. We thrive in a zone of uncertainty.
We are unafraid to make innovative, bold decisions to drive customer value, and are undeterred in our mission to deliver transformative tools that will power the media industry for decades to come. While the future is uncertain, in the present, we can make things clear. We believe in the constant pursuit of simplicity. We tackle hard problems by focusing on simplifying the complexity – of our products, our organization, and our industry.

3. What solutions does Operative offer that makes it stand out from the competition?
Operative offers a portfolio of solutions, which can be used by media companies to manage their advertising and content businesses. Our industry-leading product AOS is a cloud-native platform designed to help customers mitigate the challenges caused by the audience, content delivery, and technology fragmentation.
AOS is a unified cloud-based solution to manage advertising across platforms and inventories as well as help our clients leverage their first-party data. With a modern interface and off-the-shelf connections to major media workflow tools, AOS is designed to connect data, drive operational automation, and deliver real-time insights to customers.
Media companies have incredibly complex businesses. Many have both digital and linear advertising, national and local sales teams, and a variety of brands with different audiences and content types. Selling this kind of product manually or even using spreadsheets, can dramatically reduce a company’s ability to sell and scale business. Our solution is purpose-built for media companies to empower their sales and operations teams and bring incredible offerings to their advertisers.
We’re focused on scale, speed, insight, and yield. We are the only company that can converge multiple sets of ad inventory along with multiple currencies on a single ad buy. Media companies can easily connect legacy technology and streamline operational data into a common workspace. Three primary services – Unified Data Management, Universal Product Catalog, and Integration Manager – combine to help customers quickly cloud-enable existing technology and experience the benefits of modern SaaS solutions without the heavy lifting of a custom development project or time-consuming implementation.

4. What industries do you mainly cater to?
We work with media companies around the world, from digital media companies to global networks to regional and local broadcasters. If you have an advertising and/or content business to manage, you should be speaking to us!

5. How has your extensive experience in the industry facilitated the growth of Operative?
My experience as a CEO in technology companies has absolutely shaped my approach at Operative. For example, Operative offers a suite of products for media companies around the world with a combination of offerings for digital and linear media companies.
There is a complexity to the organization because of our global client base and varied solutions. Strategically, we’ve united these offerings with AOS, our cloud-first platform that helps all our clients increase revenue growth and efficiency with modern technology. It’s built so that everyone can get value without having to rip up their current technology. Our approach is based on an understanding, not just of the media and advertising market as a whole, but of the different clients we have and their specific markets.

6. Tell us about some of the more prominent clients of Operative and how have you accelerated growth for them.
Operative supports hundreds of media companies across the globe. We provide solutions for both legacy digital and legacy linear media companies, ensuring that every media company has what they need to compete in an omnichannel media market. We work with the world’s largest networks from global digital media companies to regional and local stations, spanning many different advertising markets.
Two examples are Fox and Sinclair, both with enormously complex businesses. When a company like Sinclair tries to organize a fleet of ad sales teams across the country as well as high-end strategic sales at the national level, they need software in place that organizes their entire product catalog, facilitates yield management and pricing decisions, and delivers aggregated reporting, among many other things that we help with. By providing solutions that drive more accurate, efficient sales, our customers can sell more with less.

7. As a leader, what trends do you think dominate the future of advertising? How do you see the landscape changing in general?
Advertising has evolved significantly with the proliferation of so many different screens and channels – from CTV and streaming to mobile apps. Advertising will continue on this growth curve – we’re seeing an increase in advertising types, including shoppable ads and in-content advertising. We’re also seeing a change in how brands and media companies measure advertising, including the rise of attention and engagement metrics. Brands want unique advertising opportunities that also perform, putting extra pressure on media companies to deliver even as complexity increases.
All of this is compounded by the larger shift from third-party cookies to first-party-data-driven advertising. Advertisers are investing in data and are more interested in controlling how they buy and who their audiences are. The advertising industry has been dealing with significant changes over the last decade. Media companies are realizing the need to have the right technology and data accessibility in place to navigate these industry trends.

8. What piece of advice would you like to share with budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts wishing to venture into the industry?
The media industry has many, many facets – from local broadcasters to global media conglomerates. Ultimately, success for all media companies is about creating worthwhile content that attracts engaged audiences. Any technology, advertising solution or measurement approach really needs to preserve this foundational element of media, or we do ourselves a disservice.
We seek to empower media companies to maximize the value of their content and their advertising. Any entrepreneur coming into this business can benefit from thinking the same way – how can you empower media companies to produce great things? When this happens, media companies can profit, brands can reach their audiences, and of course, audiences get quality content that they actually want.

9. What are some of the toughest challenges that you faced working in the industry for 30 long years? How did you overcome them?
Working with companies that were not reaching their real growth potential in very competitive markets presents a challenge. Solving for growth is always the opportunity that companies are chasing and I always looked forward to solving pathways to accelerate growth.

10. As an organization, what is your key objective?
The most important objective we have as a company is servicing our customers in the best way possible and providing them with the solutions needed to grow their businesses with ease and efficiency. We have partnered with companies in a variety of markets to achieve this, which is what is most important to us.

11. Being a leader, how do you cope with the stress that comes with a position such as yours?
As many leaders probably would admit, I thrive on change, stress, and a fast pace. I have to care about what I am doing. I’ve been thoughtful about which companies I work with so that I know that I am invested in the outcome. I love the idea that there is the best way forward for our business, one that is a win-win for us and our customers. Holding our vision, mission and values close help clarify our strategy, and talking constantly to people – our customers, partners, and the team keeps me focused. In this context, the decisions I must make in a day become clearer, and therefore less stressful.
Of course, everyone also needs some kind of outlet from work. I find that exercise is key for me to relieve stress. I enjoy working out and a few outdoor activities including biking, skiing, and swimming. Of course, spending time with my family is the ultimate way to enjoy life.

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Michael Grossi, Chief Executive Office, Operative
Michael Grossi has 30 years of experience in enterprise software and technology working for leading global media companies in mobile, telecom, and IT. He has unique expertise in driving emerging and transformative growth strategies for companies with a focus on operational excellence and customer service. Michael started his career as a Captain in the United States Air Force, where he oversaw several different technology defense programs in the Intelligence Command. He has a BSBA in Finance from Villanova University and an MBA from Bentley University. He currently serves on the Dean's Advisory Council at the Villanova School of Business (VSB).

With $8.5B in digital ad revenue and $40B in global TV ad revenue flowing through the systems, Operative plays a crucial role in helping the world’s top media companies and publishers manage and advance their advertising businesses and increase revenue by helping them transition from ratings-based to outcome-based selling with modern order management system. The platforms are built on modern cloud native SaaS based technologies for Convergence. The multiple channel advertisement requirements are managed from a single place.

Our 300+ clients span 25+ countries and include FOX, NBCU, Sinclair, Discovery, Disney, TVNZ, HBO, BellMedia and SKY.

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