Martech Interview with Tom Cheli, CEO of Frequence

Modern technology has greatly furthered the advertising industry overall. How are organizations leveraging it to improve programmatic advertising?

Reach and frequency need to be respectful in the current environment. You can overdo reach and frequency in any single channel, which is why we’re always encouraging an omnichannel strategy.

1. Can you please tell us about yourself? How did you get into working in technology?
I am a native Californian and one of 8 children. I have always had a passion for science and technology. I started in healthcare, and in 1999 I decided to switch to tech from the healthcare/pharmaceuticals industry. Tech was blowing up, and it was clear to anybody that tech was going to be the driving economic force of the coming years.

2. Can you give us a brief of your career before Frequence?
I started in the healthcare industry and worked for Merck, Collagen, & Wesley Jessen. Around 1999/2000 I joined my first technology startup QuinStreet, worked there for 12 years and was part of the team when it went public. It’s still public today, with a lot of great former colleagues.
I wanted to do another startup after QuinStreet, so I went to a big data company called TellApart that was acquired. In my search for my next company I met the founders of Frequence. I joined later that year, in 2014, and have been on this fantastic journey in media technology ever since.

3. Could you tell us about Frequence and how has the company evolved over the last few years?
Frequence was started with a passion to build technology to leverage and improve programmatic advertising for media companies and their local advertisers. We have evolved from our bootstrapped, humble beginnings to a company with over 350 employees servicing media companies in cable, broadcast radio and television, print and out-of-home.
Now we’re much more public-facing – from marketing to the growth of the leadership team to the entire organization. We’ve evolved and improved our technology across functions, from sales automation to operational optimization. It’s like maturing through the course of a human life – a company matures as you replicate and scale your business. It’s an incredible evolution to be a part of.

4. What’s your favorite part about working in this industry?
The pace and the people. Everything is always changing, and there’s always something new to learn. The technology is constantly evolving. I’m the type of person who is energized by the opportunity to be constantly learning new things.
Also, technology tends to attract the most creative, think-outside-the-box people. I’m always impressed by the people surrounding me at Frequence and the energy they bring to solving complex problems.

5. What makes Frequence unique and sets it apart from the competition?
We’re the only true technology company that provides an end-to-end solution for people from sales/marketing to operations. Frequence delivers bottom-line results and benefits for local-market media companies and their advertisers, which represent an essential part of the overall media ecosystem.

6. Could you brief us about Frequence and its salient features for modern marketers?
If you’re looking to sell local, omnichannel advertising at scale, we’re the only ones who do it comprehensively. No other company understands selling, managing and reporting advertising better than Frequence. And we do all of it while empowering local-market media companies to sell more of their own owned-and-operated inventory, which is especially valuable.

7. With the holiday season approaching, what would you advise modern marketers to shift their focus on?
For us, it’s important to not go crazy over the holiday season. A lot of local businesses aren’t quite as seasonal as big national advertisers, and to our mind there’s too much emphasis on the holiday shopping season.
We would urge marketers and advertisers to continue to leverage this time to speak to their audiences. The most salient general advice would be to make sure you’re reaching audiences across screens, which are changing all the time. This can be the hardest detail to manage for many local advertisers.

8. How can marketers and advertisers today create a hassle-free ad journey for their audience?

Reach and frequency need to be respectful in the current environment. You can overdo reach and frequency in any single channel, which is why we’re always encouraging an omnichannel strategy.

Be clear about your message and honest about the value. It’s essential to make the conversion (whether that’s a purchase, or something else) as frictionless as possible.

9. How according to you is sales automation impacting the traditional sales and marketing funnels?
In general I think sales and marketing automation has greatly helped businesses to speak to their prospects and customers. We just need to remember not to discount the power of customer relationships. Technology can help make the whole process more efficient, but nothing can replace that human connection.

10. Can you give us a sneak peek into Frequence’s development plans?
We’re ramping up integrations and partnerships across the ecosystem. We continue to integrate more and more local-media O&O (owned-and-operated) systems and workflows into the Frequence platform while offering new media tactics and products. We’re currently doing a major platform enhancement to allow for more customization by our partners – giving them more control over their workflow.

11. What is the biggest piece of advice you would want to give to company leaders?
For any company leader, one of the most important things is to be genuine. Building a business is always hard, but valuing relationships with your people, organizations, and customers is how you’re going to be successful.

12. What movie/book has inspired you recently?
To be honest it has not been a book or a movie: I’ve been truly inspired by returning to in-person work and events after such long, enforced isolation. I mentioned earlier that I’m the type of person who is energized by interacting with smart thoughtful people, and I relish the opportunity to do that again now that things have returned to something more normal.
The pandemic really made it clear how much we all benefit from the energy and collaboration that takes place when we get teams together in the same room. Our team did a great job tackling the challenges thrown at us by the pandemic, but it’s inspiring to see everybody interacting in person again.

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Tom Cheli, CEO, Frequence
Tom leads Frequence's day-to-day operations, overall vision, and strategy. Tom has over 20 years of experience, holding multiple executive roles leading businesses from early-stage startups to publicly traded companies.

Frequence is a leader in local advertising sales automation. Unlike other workflow software, Frequence is the most complete system on the market, connecting all aspects of digital advertising—sales, operations, and reporting—from beginning to end. We create smart, focused campaigns based on performance data from thousands of local and national media campaigns to level the playing field and make programmatic ad buying possible for smaller local businesses.

Frequence is a Top Workplace! Our people-first culture and distinctive mission set us apart from others in the industry. We are a team of 200+ engineers, managers, salespeople, developers, and designers who are passionate about using human ingenuity and innovative technology to solve real problems for the digital advertising industry.

Frequence is proud to be Certified as a Great Place to Work. We are also honored to be recognized by Bay Area News Group as a Top Workplaces Company for 2020 & 2021. And, Frequence ranked as one of the USA's fastest-growing private companies by Inc. Magazine. Join us and let’s see what we can build together.

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