Interview with Steven Hartman, VP Global Marketing at Kenshoo

In this interview, Steven discusses the need for marketers to keep up with the constantly evolving digital habits of customers, the blurring lines between apps and TV and the resulting advertising across the two, and the biggest blind spot facing marketers today

1. Could you tell me a little about your background and how you came to be the VP Global Marketing at Kenshoo?

My introduction to the marketing technology industry was through product management at Yahoo where I had the privilege of being part of initiatives that helped shape digital advertising. During that time I observed how the industry was being underserved with the positioning of innovations being released and sold to marketers. Concepts such as advertising exchanges, private marketplaces, and attribution were more about how the tech was built opposed to the value it provided. It was then I started to take on product marketing roles and never looked back. Over the years, my interests expanded to all areas of marketing and that eventually led me here to Kenshoo. I saw a great technology backed a strong brand promise for the marketer. I was already aware of the success Kenshoo was having with its clients and after I met the talented people on the team, I knew this was the next step for me.

2. What is the core marketing technology capability of Kenshoo that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer life cycle?

At Kenshoo, our technology is architected to help marketers build their brands and generate demand by powering digital advertising across the world’s leading publishers. In fact, Kenshoo is the only marketing technology company that provides advertising access across Google, Facebook, Bing, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Yahoo, Yandex and Baidu.

Today, marketers must be able to test and then quickly scale their programs in order to make good on opportunities before the moment passes

Our algorithms, automation controls, analytics and management dashboards are all engineered to allow a marketer to quickly and effectively keep-up with consumers whose daily digital habits are continuously evolving. We call this agile marketing.

3. Are there any key considerations to keep in mind while narrowing in on the choice of mobile web or mobile app for brands in terms of ad tech?

For many of the brands we work with who are spending upwards of tens and hundreds of million dollars a month on mobile advertising, they have moved past single mobile experiences and employ both mobile app and web. That means app installs, time in-app, and mobile web engagement are all critical measures of success for their holistic marketing programs. For these brands, decisions made for advertising technology would need to span both. However, for brands that are investing for a single mobile experience, the following are still important to keep in mind:

  • Invest significantly in native advertising formats. Most of the latest successful mobile advertising innovations are in the realm of native. Facebook’s Carousel Ads, Pinterest’s Search Ads, Snapchat’s Snap Ads, and Google or Bing shopping ads are examples of how some of the most popular mobile publishers are using native as their ad canvas of choice.
  • Utilize 3rd party data into understanding ROI. One of the biggest blind spots for marketers is the ability to see the full value of their mobile advertising. Especially if a mobile view or click is not the last step of a marketer’s objective. A platform that can illuminate the consumer’s full cross-device journey is becoming increasingly important to make the best marketing decisions.
  • Leverage paid advertising to improve organic app installs. It’s advantageous to keep in mind that app store recommendations (which can be sponsored) play a large part of influencing a consumer’s decision to download. This, in turn, creates a positive 2nd-order effect as the more downloads an app receives, the higher they rank in organic app search results.

4. From a technology perspective, what are some of the biggest challenges that your marketing team faces today?

Interoperability. Across program management, budgeting, managed/owned media, advertising, and field enablement tools, a big part of our success has been the ability to tie our collective internal systems together to achieve overall departmental and corporate objectives. They inform each other, and if orchestrated well, can increase both the scale and performance of the team. However, we work hard to keep a balance in place between system integration and program execution. It’s the law of diminishing returns. If not careful, too much time could be spent on infrastructure and not enough promoting the corporate brand and building sales pipeline.

5. Do you see ad blocking as a major threat for the ad tech industry? Any suggestions for approaching this as an opportunity and getting creative with strategies that mitigate the effects of ad blocking?

“Threat” isn’t the word I’d use but ad blocking is definitely is causing digital advertising to evolve quickly. And that’s a good thing.

The rise in ad blocking is the consumer voice declaring to publishers that they don’t want interruptive ads or technologies that drain data plans and power from their personal devices

The standing challenge for both marketers and publishers is to continually innovate across media and advertising experiences without harming the consumer experience. Several are successful at it too. Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google, Bing and others are finding ways to use features such as full-screen mobile video or dynamic advertising to create more desirable messages to the consumer. It’s also worth mentioning that all of these I just mentioned sit above ad blocking.

6. With display and native advertising moving into personalizing for TV viewers, will the search and social ad industry too be moving towards expanding their reach to these audiences? How big a role will predictive analytics play in serving unique ads for enhanced customer experience?

My answer starts with reframing the terminology of the question slightly. Publishers who are categorized as “search and social” also happen to be the leading innovators and suppliers of native advertising. Therefore, the quick answer to this question would be “yes, absolutely”.

To expand upon this, TV is going through a fast-moving shift. With the changing viewing habits of the millennial and younger audiences, the form of TV content and resulting marketing has had to shift in alignment. Shorter-form content, content increasingly viewed from mobile devices, content being generated by even some of these search and social publishers. These trends are making the lines between “TV” and “Apps” blur. Therefore, the advertising across them are blurring as well. Brand reach, direct-response, and data-driven targeting … all of these are becoming increasingly personalized. To do that type of execution at digital scale, predictive analytics and automated optimization is a necessity.

7. Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?

Absolutely, just recently we held our annual client summit “K8”. At that time several announcements were made:

  • Pinterest announcing Search Ads and Kenshoo as the first partner to support
  • Kenshoo’s support of Snapchat Snap Ads
  • An extension of our award-winning “Halogen” predictive marketing technology for paid social
  • And many more … see here for the full list

8. What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech cos across so many categories? Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and / or integrate?

Very exciting. For the companies innovating in technology to make marketing better, I fully subscribe to the theory of a rising tide raises all ships.

Competition is healthy and ends well for the strongest players

The increasing number of MarTech technologies is a testament to just how fast all forms of media are converging with digital and the tools needed to engage the customer throughout their brand awareness and purchase journey.

9. How do you weigh in on the whole ‘buying into vs building a marketing cloud’ choices that marketers have to face today?

I don’t see a single cloud technology that covers everything an enterprise marketing organization needs to run their programs. There is too much change taking place in the world of digital media and marketing for one vendor to keep up with it all. I think the more interesting question is where does a team start when making their buying decisions? What part of the marketing operation should be their focal point by which other buying decisions are made? I believe these answers are not always the same and are dependent upon the primary goals of a marketing department. With many of the brands we work with, building revenue through their marketing programs is paramount. Therefore, we find that media activation platforms (like Kenshoo) are at the heart of their stacks.

10. Can you share a screenshot of the homepage of your smartphone (iOS/Android/other)? It would be interesting to see some of the apps you personally use on a daily basis to get things done and stay on top of your day.

Connect with Steven

This article was originally published on MarTech Advisor

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