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In the age of the internet and rapidly evolving technology, few developments have had the impact that Google has had on every stratus of daily life.
For Chris Mettler ’04, Google was especially impactful as it debuted when he was a senior in college—a time when he was surveying the world to determine what path he would take.
“When I saw how Google became a way to find answers or search for products or services, I got really excited because it changed everything,” says Mettler. “If you were a local business and had a good product you could suddenly become a national business by setting up a Google account and marketing yourself. It was like a new frontier and that was really fun. I feel fortunate that I was able to be there on the early side.”
That excitement sparked by all the possibilities of the internet stuck with him, even as he entered the industrial manufacturing space. After starting and selling his own company he still had an itch for digital marketing and, with a Kellogg MBA in tow, decided it was a path he needed to explore.
“Kellogg taught me to think creatively about business problems,” says Mettler. “A lot of organizations don't necessarily take that perspective.”
Mettler soon set out to build his own marketing technology from the ground up, eventually founding Sovereign, a digital marketing firm where he serves as president. The company’s flagship product, Pebble, measures consumer interaction with various advertising platforms, enabling advertising dollars to work more efficiently.
“It's harder than it probably sounds to take a bunch of data and then visually represent what's occurring,” he says of Pebble. “Over the years I've seen a lot of money spent on large marketing ROI systems, because there’s hope that the system is really going to make an impact on the business. But a lot of times it doesn’t add any directional value. I find it fun to be able to give the right KPIs that drive a certain business and deliver results that exceed our clients’ expectations.”
As Sovereign continues to scale Pebble, Mettler remains excited to continue exploring the internet’s wild frontier, but says that the company takes its role in how it shapes the digital space very seriously. Notably, he is cautiously proceeding in developing ways that companies can use data to learn about customers and their interests while still respecting their privacy.
“Ultimately it’s about treating everyone how you'd want to be treated,” says Mettler. “That really resonates with me. It’s not only treating the customer how you'd want to be treated, but your client, the hourly worker, the executive, the receptionist…. And that approach really builds trust and reputation and credibility. When people do it in the workplace, it really reaps a lot of dividends.”