Industry Profile: Signal senior VP, Michael Twomey

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 26 August 2016

Our Industry Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we head to Sydney to speak to Michael Twomey, senior VP and MD of people-based marketing, Signal

Duration in current role/time at the company:

In March I was thrilled to join Signal, a company I had long admired, from Coles flybuys.

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

Signal is a marketing technology company that takes the guesswork out of targeting digital media so brands and media buyers can execute more successful, better performing campaigns.

In one sentence what does your role involve?

I help educate marketers and media agencies on how to evolve their digital ad buying to a people-based approach. This basically means I am helping them move away from targeting media based on generic audience segments and inferred behavioural data, to buying ads that target real people across any open or closed publisher platform, wherever their customers consume media.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?

An incredible milestone for Signal was the launch of Australia’s first independent people-based advertising solution with flybuys as a foundational client and early adopter. There has been great response from brands and media buyers, so we are busy recruiting and expanding our offices! Also, in June Signal raised $30m in Series E funding which will be used to further accelerate expansion of its platform and global activities. Australia is a key market for Signal so will benefit from this investment.

Best thing about the industry you work in?

This industry currently faces a big challenge of making marketing more relevant and valuable to consumers, who have more choices and ways to interact than ever before. There are a lot of companies trying to solve this, which creates competition but also a lot of collaboration across the industry. The biggest opportunity to solve this challenge is by working together with the inspiring, driven and motivated people who make up this field. It’s what’s unique about marketing, and what gets me excited about it.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at?

For the last four years I worked with Coles flybuys to create an addressable advertising solution for Coles and flybuys’ partners who wanted to reach known customers across email, direct mail, and onsite advertising channels. I joined Signal to take this addressable media approach to the next level, with technology that can scale countrywide to support advertisers and media buyers across Australia. I also spent time at Silverpop, an email marketing and lead management company.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?

Three years can be a lifetime in digital marketing. But in three years, I believe that marketers will have reinvented online advertising to attack the spray-and-pray methods and wasted spend that unfortunately are the norm right now. I think digital ads will be as addressable, relevant and personal as email is today. And at Signal, we will have played a leading role in helping marketers get there.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

When I was in my early twenties I started a timber yard with a friend. We managed it out of the back of his house, and would deliver timber to builders. We sold the company, but in many ways that was my first marketing job. I would call up builders that I found in the Yellow Pages and ask them if they wanted to order timber: “Do you want some 4x2s? Do you want some cedar siding?” I was an original telemarketer.

Top networking tip:

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Again, the marketing industry is all about collaboration, no matter which part of the ecosystem you sit in, and what stage you’re at in your career. Say “hello” and see where it takes you.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

Pucus on ACDC Lane. It’s a bit of a journey into Melbourne to get to it, so I always take international visitors there. You get to see amazing scenery from graffiti artists and interesting signage along the way.

My favourite advert is:

WinnDixie – Down Down

I love the idea of taking a concept that works in one market and adapting it in another market. That’s the value of a relevant message.

Must have gadget is:

My Pet Pod. I have a two-year-old golden retriever named Charlie who is very energetic and thinks he’s part human. Because I travel all the time, I can't always be with him, but with my Pet Pod I can always see what he’s up to.

My favourite media is:

Original sign-written billboards. They forced marketers to keep their message specific and relevant. It’s a good reminder for modern marketers.

My favourite TV show is:

Million Dollar Listing San Francisco. It gives me a way to experience the real estate world, which I would’ve gotten into if I wouldn’t have gotten into marketing.

The last book I read:

Paul Bangay’s The Garden at Stonefields.

My mantra/philosophy is:

Impossible is nothing. I have a personality that embraces challenge. I don’t take no for an answer.

I got into advertising/adtech/marketing etc. because….

I want to solve John Wanamaker’s problem: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”
If I wasn’t doing this for a living I’d be:

A builder.

In five years time I’ll be:

Ask me in five years.

Define your job in one word:

Simplicity. And by that I mean, tackling the industry’s big problems by offering advertisers solutions that are really easy for them implement.
What’s your poison:

XXXX Gold. I am a Queensland lad at heart.

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