Inuvo CEO Richard Howe on Staying Connected in Conway

Richard Howe leads Inuvo Corp., which earlier this year moved its headquarters from Florida and New York to Conway.

Howe met Charles Morgan, former CEO of Little Rock’s Acxiom Corp., when Howe was an executive at FICO of San Jose, Calif. In 2004, several years after that meeting, Morgan recruited Howe to join Acxiom in a leadership position. Though he changed locations later, he’s always had a home in Arkansas since. Howe became involved with Inuvo in 2008 and became its CEO in 2009.

Q: When and why did you become involved in Inuvo?

A: In 2008, Acxiom was going through some changes. I used that opportunity to reflect on my goals as an executive and started to open myself up to opportunities that might broaden my public company operating skills, particularly within Internet-based business models. Inuvo was a company that met both of these objectives while also satisfying my interests for intellectually challenging business problems.

Tell us a bit about what Inuvo sells.

The majority of the income Inuvo earns comes from serving ads to consumers in a way that resonates sufficiently with them that they choose to click on them. We currently serve those ads across multiple channels that include both mobile and desktop websites and applications.

What’s Inuvo’s future in the mobile app market?

Mobile is a big focus for Inuvo. We already serve ads into dozens of mobile applications and are developing mobile ad units deployable both within apps and onto mobile-ready Web pages. As is the case within our desktop Internet business, we may have — in fact we are close to launching — mobile applications we develop ourselves.

What are some of Inuvo’s other projects, like Alot, for example?

Our big push right now is the move to mobile. We have a $55 million annual business today built on serving ads into desktop websites and applications. The Alot product is an application we own and into which we serve those ads. Increasingly, consumers are using mobile applications to access the same content they might have accessed previously on a Web page. We want to be a part of that evolution.

What are some of the challenges involved in leading a company with multiple locations throughout the country?

Culturally, having multiple locations makes it difficult to bring together your disparate teams, particularly when the offices have been acquired through some merger or acquisition.

What are some ways Inuvo can improve now that those interests are moving to one place?

Having leadership over all product lines in one location means we can all get together to assure that the various synergies between the products are being realized, that we are collaborating on ideas together, and that our overall corporate objectives are being proliferated throughout the organization. But perhaps the biggest value is the ability to simply execute faster just because we are all in the same place at the same time.

What’s Inuvo’s biggest current challenge, and how do you think it can be beaten?

Our biggest challenge is competing with much bigger and better funded peers. This is not a new challenge to anyone who has built a business dominated by Goliaths, and the solution is the same for anyone brave enough to try — speed to market and innovation are key. The very weakness that comes from being small among giants provides the opportunity to leapfrog simply because a smaller organization tends to be more nimble.