Alex Wright, Head of Insights at Blis, is about to celebrate his one year anniversary with us. To mark his milestone, we thought we’d let you get to know him better with an Insights Series. To kick it off, we’ve asked Alex to answer these four questions that provide insight into the industry, the company, and Alex’s own world. Follow this series’ hashtag for more with Alex.
1. In your own words – and in one sentence or less – what does Blis do?
Blis converts mobile data into behavioural observations, which (hopefully!) gives us insights that other sources cannot provide.
2. And how does your role relate to that mission?
We process so much information every hour, every minute, every second – just huge volumes of data. My role is take that information understand its origins, use it to test hypotheses or challenge preconceptions, and turn it into a tangible story, that answers their questions and contributes to how they solve their business problems.
This role didn’t formally exist at Blis before I joined the company, so firstly I needed to understand what the business is about, where it fits into the location mobile ecosystem, where mobile location fits within the mobile ecosystem, and where mobile fits into the wider media context. I want to find the best way to portray our qualities and the unique work that Blis does.
I’ve been working in media, audience and consumer research roles for 12 years, and spent eight years of that working in traditional media. Before Blis, I worked with Google at a media agency, which was my first step into digital media. I learned there that the real challenge is to keep up rather than catch up, but more importantly that the digital ‘exhaust fumes’ of people’s natural behaviour create a lot of passive information we can use to better understand them.
3. In the last year, what stands out as Blis’s major milestones?
I think the milestones have been incremental rather than real revelations – evolution, not revolution. Blis is no longer a startup; today it’s a scale-up. In the months I’ve been here, we’ve nearly doubled in size. We’ve laid down roots in many markets where we had no presence previously, which gives us the opportunity to do a lot of interesting work where behavior doesn’t necessarily conform the pattern established in supposedly more developed Western markets. It’s particularly exciting that a lot of these are underserved by other forms of media, meaning mobile is often first access point to the internet.
It’s also been an interesting year in this part of the industry because there’s been a lot of scrutiny around location data. Blis, to its credit, has not been defensive in its response. Rather we’ve taken it as an opportunity to make sure we’re on top of our technology and to continue improving our products in-line with market expectations, letting natural selection dictate which players succeed.
4. What is the best thing about working in ad tech?
My favourite thing about this industry, which I’ve seen in abundance at Blis, is the attitude. Everyone seems to have this very can-do attitude: if there’s something we’re not currently doing that people want us to do, everyone is eager to give a try. Let’s see if we can do it. And if we’re not the first to do it, let’s try to be the best. It’s very energising.
5. What’s something people at work may not know about you?
Most people don’t know I’m a musician. I play guitar. I once played at a wedding at Dromoland castle in Ireland – alongside the 2006 All-Ireland Fiddle Champion, no less! It was pretty amazing. Better than the time I was second on the bill to Bjorn Again, the UK’s number one ABBA tribute act.