An Interview with Bill Georges, Global Chief Operating Officer, Active International
Bill Georges joined Active in 2007, bringing more than 20 years of marketing, advertising, and sales leadership experience to the company. He was previously Senior Vice President, Advertising and Affiliate Sales for Comcast Networks and Senior Vice President at Liberty Media, spending 10-plus years at both companies. Earlier in his career, Georges played competitive tennis, competing at the U.S. Open and playing on the ATP Tennis Tour. After a sports-related injury, he transitioned to the business world, becoming Vice President of Sales and Sponsorships for the ATP tour.
With regard to Active’s evolution, how do you see the company positioned for the future?
When the company was founded more than 30 years ago, companies primarily came to us to solve an immediate problem. Our business model provided a financial benefit that improved the bottom line for companies in virtually every industry. Over time, and based on proven results, our clients realized that we could do more for them than simply be a problem solver, that we could help them achieve more.
Through the years, our business model has continued to deliver a financial benefit, and we have built upon our ability to help our clients achieve more by helping them innovate, allowing them to take more risk, enabling them to enter new channels of distribution, increase their sales, and grow their businesses more than they could on their own.
Today we’re helping those clients gain a better understanding of data and audiences through the use of artificial intelligence, adtech/martech platforms and predictive modeling. As we integrate technology into our practice areas, we are positioned to be an ongoing resource for our clients.
What level of focus has Active put on technology investments?
We have made significant investments in technology, integrating artificial intelligence and predictive analytics into our business, developing proprietary adtech/martech platforms and building asset disposition platforms to expand our reach and further improve our clients’ ROI.
We are also capitalizing on the technology that is available, connecting first- and third-party data with Nielsen, audience information, and attribution data. By doing so, we have a clear understanding of the most effective way to reach even the most narrow audience on behalf of our clients.
How critical has it been for Active to maintain an innovative edge as you’ve grown?
Active has been innovating since its inception, starting with the creation of a currency that never existed before. Well before Bitcoin was ever conceived, Active created the Trade Credit, which became an established alternative currency and has been in use for more than 30 years.
We continue to innovate, creating new funding solutions, new products, and new services. Using data and technology, we are focused on developing solutions to help our clients achieve their desired business outcomes and to help them do it faster than they could without our help.
As Global Chief Operating Officer, what are some of the things that keep you awake at night?
With media being one of our largest practice areas, one of the things that keeps me awake at night is the question of who will win the content battle. I don’t believe content will always be delivered the way it is today.
As technology continues to break new ground, there are more distribution options for content. I don’t know which brands are going to be the leaders in delivering the aggregation of that content, but I believe advertisers are going to mandate that the market be more open. Understanding how and when that will happen is critical in ensuring that we can apply our business model to deliver ongoing value to our clients and media suppliers.
In addition, with the disruption caused by technology, I continue to think about how we ensure our people have the skills they need to deliver value to our clients. Our most important asset is our great people. They deliver innovative, high-value solutions. Ensuring they have the tools and training they need and also making sure we continue to hire the right talent for tomorrow’s marketplace are of the utmost importance to me.
What are the factors that will determine which content providers will win?
Consumers are going to decide. They have more information and choice than ever before, and they let us know every day that they are in charge. They are telling us they want a frictionless experience, that they want convenience and quality, and that they expect a consistent and positive experience across all the interaction points.
From an Active perspective, we are staying focused on what consumers desire so that we can provide the most effective ways for our clients to reach them.
Have the type of solutions you offer today changed the client relationship?
The core of what we do has not changed, but how we do it has changed dramatically. We have expanded our solutions to help our clients achieve more in more operating areas across their enterprise. While media is our core practice area, we have practice areas in asset disposition, retail marketing, travel and hospitality, freight and logistics (supply chain), and lighting.
Built on our core model and with more than three decades of experience, we now provide business solutions that reach into the highest levels of finance, procurement, and marketing. We need to understand what our clients want to achieve as a business, which means we also reach into the C-suite so we can understand their vision and help them get there sooner. By applying more of a consultative approach, we are able to apply our business model throughout their organization to help them achieve their goals. Today, we’ve gone beyond solving an immediate, short-term problem. Although we still do that too.