Adam Solomon, CMO at Lotame, isn’t your average marketer. He is a rocket scientist with a law degree who holds a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering, and a Masters and a Juris Doctorate in intellectual property.
Solomon, who refers to his degrees as “atypical,” says a love for innovation is the thread holding it all together. He now leads strategic marketing and product development globally for Lotame, supporting worldwide demand for the company’s new unstacked approach to data.
He is founder and chief rocket scientist at Rocket Science Advisors, and held prior posts at PebblePost, Hearst Core Audience, and Time.
“It’s always good to have a rocket scientist on staff,” he said. “You never know when you might need one.”
Solomon co-invented four issued patents while at Viacom, which consist of interactive video advertising. He also had several pending patents while at Viacom and PebblePost.
Last week Lotame announced what the company calls “unstacked data solutions.” The company has traditionally been known as a data management platform, but now Lotame will break-up the pieces in a traditional DMP and offer them as specific tools to create a new approach for publishers, marketers and agencies. Data Stream is one of the new tools being made available.
The product will give customers direct access to about 4 billion profiles to build a tech stack in-house. The company is calling out the fact that it is unstacked because the technology offerings work in a similar way to modules, a custom set of building blocks.
Excerpts of the conversation between Data & Programmatic Insider and Solomon follow.
D&PI: Did you always know you wanted to become a rocket scientist?
Solomon: At thirteen years old I did know I wanted to become an aerospace engineer because I just loved rockets and planes. I discovered that I really loved innovation, but specifically problem solving.
Among the things I’ve shared with teams along the way as I moved along in my career is that if you look at patent applications, the layout of the patent is first about the background of the technology in which the patent related. Then the patent application highlights the problems that exist, which the invention solves. Then you introduce the invention and explain it in excruciating detail.
I’m not sure if it was because the application is very structured or that learning about patents led me to think about things in that way. It’s a great approach when thinking about product development and marketing.
D&PI: What types of books do you read?
Solomon: For pleasure reading I’m a big science fiction and fantasy buff. I’m actually reading Creativity, Inc., written by Ed Catmull, the founder of Pixar.
I’m also fascinated by the intersection of art and science. He is a software engineer, but also an animator and filmmaker. It’s about people who are skilled in art and science. A thread throughout the book is how it translates into organizational and leadership styles -- how to create an environment where people can be creative and solve problems.
D&PI: What is the best piece of advice anyone gave you, and who is that person?
Solomon: Very early in my career as a lawyer at United Technologies I attended a meeting for their Sikorsky Helicopter Aircraft division. The general council was there and we were talking about technology or even IT. Someone was briefing the team on new technology. The guy who was presenting it made a mistake. It wasn’t precise.
In a room full of people I raised my hand and corrected him. He misspoke. After, the general council pulled me aside and said, "Adam, there’s the legal, there’s the business, and there’s the political. And you may be correct in what you said and in the best interest of the company, but from a political standpoint you embarrassed this guy in a room full of people."
The idea was that I needed to build relationships rather than [roadblocks], and I had no awareness. All I could think about is that the guy said the wrong thing and I needed to correct him. It was then I realized I needed to practice empathy, if not sympathy -- and to get people to work together and bring them along.
D&PI: What is the best piece of advice you could give others?
Solomon: Think like a patent application. Try to be clear about the problem you’re solving and have a solution to solve the problem.
There’s an approach to product engineering at Amazon that works. When Amazon starts a new initiative they ask managers and key engineers to write an internal press release. They need to tout the benefits of what they built because if you cannot clearly articulate the benefits, then maybe you should be doing it.
D&PI: How does your experience in engineering and patents make you a good CMO?
Solomon: The CMO role is no longer Mad Men, awareness, and creativity. It’s highly technical and data-driven, whether it’s understanding the customers, research or consumers and their behavior from a quantitative perspective, quantitative analysis, marketplaces, and supply chains.
You must know how it all fits together and then plot out a strategy to acquire new customers and engage customers. In a fragmented world, it’s more information for CMOs to have technical skills and understand the deep technology.