Our ‘Profile: A Day in the Life of’ feature takes a look at some of the global professionals working across performance marketing. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the flourishing industry.
In this edition we head to Belfast, to speak with the chief executive of AI based e-commerce solution, Sophia Search.
Job title and company name:
In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?
Our flagship product Ambiance™ cures the problem of ‘digital ad blindness’ by delighting consumers with relevant promotions online which, unlike the ads commonplace on the web today, they find useful and interesting as opposed to distracting and irritating.
What are the company’s unique selling points?
Ambiance automatically understands what consumers are interested in online from the content they’re consuming and relates this to products they want to buy in real-time. It creates enormous value for everyone involved in the process - consumers, etailers, brands and publishers – who all benefit significantly from the relationship. Plus, it puts consumer privacy first as it doesn’t track their data.
Within the last six months – year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?
The major highlight is the launch of Ambiance and the success of taking it to market.
Ambiance™ is incredibly powerful, with the potential to revolutionize ecommerce and how products are promoted and purchased online. Its impact is clear with consumer engagement significantly above that of traditional approaches. Our publisher network growth has been phenomenal with more than 50 publishers deploying the service within the first quarter of launching.
Another milestone was the opening of our office in downtown San Francisco, from where we now run our growing sales operations. As an Irish company it was great to finally have a focal point in the US to grow the sales operations from.
The other significant event which has excited me recently was the appointment of Lee Daley, the ex-Chairman and CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi UK, to the Sophia Board. Lee brings an enormous amount of experience and knowhow from his many years in the advertising world.
How long have you been in your current role?
As co-founder of the company I have been with Sophia since it started, about four years ago, back when we were still developing the core R&D behind our intelligent algorithms, long before we went to market. We deliberately invested a lot of time in building the AI behind the service so that performance was high and the service was strong and differentiated in the marketplace. It was time well spent and we are reaping the benefits of that investment today.
Where are you based?
I am officially based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the company was founded, but spend a lot of time each month in New York and Silicon Valley where we have our sales office.
What previous performance marketing-related companies have you worked at?
This is my first! Before Sophia I was hard at work in the research base developing the Artificial Intelligence algorithms that power our algorithms today.
What are your main job responsibilities?
As CEO I am the guy with the vision for the company. Ultimately I have responsibility for its commercial success, its growth long term and in communicating our values to the outside world
Take us through what you get up to on a typical working Monday:
Typical? I am not sure that there is such a thing, but I try to start the week off with my management team reviewing where we are as a company against our objectives and setting the short term goals for the next week covering everything from sales to engineering. The rest of the day can be taken up with customer calls, PR and strategy planning.
What top three websites can you be found browsing during your lunch hour?
If I am taking a break I actually try to get away from my computer & spend time with the team over a casual chat and some food. In my spare time I find myself on news sites or keeping up with what is going on in the world of technology. I use Flipboard a lot.
What are your top three tips for someone looking to get their hands on a job like yours?
- Make sure it’s your passion as it will consume all your time and energy. If what you are doing doesn’t excite you it will become a drag very quickly. Life is too short to find yourself in this situation.
- Treat everyone fairly and with respect.
- Always strive to do the right thing.
Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years’ time?
It’s my ambition to make Sophia one of the best known names in ecommerce – a household name. The big kick for me is to have led the team who came up with the idea, created something from scratch, and brought it successfully to market in a way that impacts positively on people’s lives daily.
Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you:
I am a massive classic rock fan – I still love all the music I listened to as a teenager and have all my vinyl in the attic still. I hear vinyl is actually making a comeback now, so I am hoping that this might mean my kids will actually think I am cool for once.