CEO Mark Slade joins us today to talk about the skills needed in his job, his secret for securing growth, and his favourite business tools.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Mark Slade: As the CEO of Location Sciences my role is to drive growth for the business. We are location data specialists and I head up the team leading the fight against location inaccuracy and fraud.
Although we are a listed company, we are effectively a start-up. I lead a high-skilled group of experts spanning all areas of the business from product definition and marketing through to shareholder relations. Together, we help brands to verify the authenticity of location data and deliver more impactful location-targeted campaigns.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Mark Slade: I report to shareholders as well as the non-executive board. I’m also accountable to employees and to customers, so I have regular communications with all these groups.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Mark Slade: The best CEOs are full of ideas, energetic and brave. Whilst winning contracts is important, you need to be skilled at leading a talented team. Leaders are only as good as their team. So, making the right hiring decisions ensures you receive the best support for business efficiency. Being able to adapt is another key skill. You need to be able to traverse all areas of the business and adjust to the client’s needs.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Mark Slade: No two days are the same. Recently I have spent a lot of time in New York where we have just launched a new team. In New York, my typical day starts at 4am so I can call teams based in the UK. I then spend most of the day running around Manhattan from meeting to meeting showing our product to potential buyers. The food in New York is incredible, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to eat at some great places with the team. I’m usually exhausted by early evening and in bed by 8pm. This way when I come back to the UK on Thursday evening, I’m nearly in the same time zone mentally!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Mark Slade: I love working with start-ups, particularly when we are establishing a market that didn’t exist previously. I enjoy being a part of a dynamic business that reacts to our customer’s requirements rapidly and delivers client-oriented outcomes. I enjoy the pace and the ability to make decisions swiftly. We can decide on a new feature for the product on Monday and then sprint into action for the following week. Once again, having an amazing team around makes this possible.
Few things suck about my job. I’d say I dislike admin, expenses, and economy flights across the Atlantic which are not made for a man of 6”2.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Mark Slade: Every organisation needs clear goals. Each year we aim to develop the market and we continue to hit our revenue targets. We have a product road map for this year, which we will be revealing to our shareholders in the summer.
Within the team we have personal development goals. For me personally, it’s all about hitting our targets and meeting an urgent need from brands and agencies for greater transparency over location data. Using a football analogy, it’s about the next game and getting the ball into the net and winning. The traction and interest we have seen in our disruptive technology sets us up for an extremely positive year ahead.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Mark Slade: One of my favourite tools is Slack. It’s great to be able to hold multiple chats with different teams while flying over the Atlantic. Another is Zoom conferencing; I spend a lot of my day on Zoom with teams across the globe.
How did you get into ad tech, and where might you go from here?
Mark Slade: Before the iPhone launched, I worked for O2 where I completed a deal for a bank to sponsor the O2 website. Then the penny dropped that the internet would be accessed on almost all mobile devices. I left O2 to set up the first mobile advertising company, 4th Screen Advertising, which kickstarted my career in the world of ad tech.
As the first company to bring location verification to market, I am not thinking beyond making a success of Location Sciences. The focus is firmly on developing the brand and seeking growth.
Which ad campaigns have you admired recently?
Mark Slade: I enjoyed the recent British Airways advert. As a UK company launching a product globally, it was good to see a celebration of UK innovation and diversity.
Do you have any advice for advertisers assessing the value of new tech in programmatic?
Mark Slade: We are seeing that the quality of location signals is not understood by many brands and their agencies. The challenge the industry faces is dealing with the significant amount of advertising fraud. We have found that 80% of location data may be inaccurate and /or of poor quality. So, it’s important to take steps in detecting and understanding ad fraud. The key to this is to use third party verification software within programmatic when running location targeting advertising.