April 20, 2015 — Geomarketing Location ad platform Verve Mobile has named Nada Stirratt, a widely respected, highly visible interactive ad executive who has led sales teams over the past decade at AOL and MTV, as its CEO.
Stirratt is replacing Tom MacIssac, who joined Verve four years ago from digital video provider ExtendMedia.
MacIssac, who could not be reached for comment, left the company on amicable terms, sources said.
In choosing Stirratt, who is widely regarded as a sharp deal maker who has developed close relationships with major brands over the past decade, Verve has selected someone to help raise its profile amid an increasingly crowded space.
Whereas MacIssac’s tenure was product-based and focused on repositioning the New York-based company from a mobile ad network to a more fully realized location-based programmatic platform, it is likely Stirratt’s role will be different. Stirratt will likely be charged with helping agencies and brands better understand how Verve stands out from rivals such as xAd, YP, Factual, NinthDecimal, PlaceIQ, Thinknear, and Placed — not to mention companies like Google and Foursquare—companies which are now attempting to expand their own digital services in the online-to-offline local marketing space.
On the product side, Verve has recently been setting up its own private marketplace aimed at driving higher quality mobile ad placements from publishers, as well as developing a white label app and advertising network for TV broadcasters’ digital properties.
The change at the top comes at a relatively comfortable time for Verve. Sources have told GeoMarketing that the company has been profitable for almost two years and that revenues grew 75 percent last year.
But the company’s growth has resulted in some management challenges at the 150-person company. Secondly, as incoming CEO, Stirratt will have to decide how to continue Verve’s advancement, particularly since it has raised $36 million in venture capital since opening its doors 10 years ago. Whether additional investment will be needed is something she’ll have to deal with over the next year or two.
In addition to Stirratt’s exceeding charm and diplomatic acumen as a sales and marketing executive, her leadership skills have also been remarked on by most people she’s worked with over the years. Her recent background as Acxiom’s first CRO is also fitting. Acxiom is one of the leading “big data” companies and has been particularly active in joining online-to-offline data from brands and retailers.
For example, Stirratt has been credited for driving Acxiom’s transformation through the global rollout of its Audience Operating system and the acquisition of data onboarding provider LiveRamp. But her chief accomplishment during her three years at Acxiom was in steering the data company’s brand positioning and marketing strategy by expanding its global partner network through extensive partnerships with major ad agencies and media companies.
“There is no one better to lead Verve into this next phase of growth than Nada Stirratt,” said Tom Kenney, Verve’s president and founder, in a statement. “We had very specific criteria for our new CEO, and we have been highly strategic about finding the right individual — Nada is that individual. Her proven track record in transforming and scaling advertising businesses across the data-driven marketing landscape is exactly what Verve needs as we embark on this next chapter of product innovation and international growth.”
In an interview with the WSJ‘s Mike Shields announcing her hiring, Stirratt struck a particularly optimistic note about the moving more directly into the evolving location/mobile arena.
“What’s exciting to me about this company is that we can drive people into actual stores with mobile ads, and be certain that we actually drove sales for a brand,” she said. “This is a not a spray and pray thing, where we send you an ad just because you may or may not be in front of a Starbucks. With all our different data sources, we can say to a brand, ‘I will reach this person, and I know they are a Target person or a Macy’s person, and I know what they bought in the past.”