Jefferey Finch & Andrew Fischer
CPO, CEO - Choozle
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
Andrew Fischer: I’ve been in digital media my whole career. As a recent college graduate, I moved to San Francisco to work in finance in 1999. However, the fledgling Internet industry was exponentially more interesting to me, and I quickly jumped into work with one of the first digital advertising sales networks called L90. Over time, I transitioned from ad-network based businesses into advertising technology as it was clearly the future of online advertising. As the co-founder and CEO of Choozle I focus on sales, marketing, finances, operations, and strategy. I intersect with my partner, Jeffrey, on the product front. And for Choozle, the product is the strategy, and the strategy is the product.
Jeffrey Finch: My internet career began 20 years ago when I started one of the first online adventure travel companies. Like most entrepreneurs of the day I did it all myself – web design, coding, branding, content, marketing, SEO, advertising, etc. – with no previous training or study. At that time knowledge was not as “everywhere” as it is today so I learned by trying and failing – learning as much as I could from anyone I could. Do this long enough and you become an expert in how to fail with purpose across many disciplines – which, as it turns out, is a great basis for creating ad and marketing tech. It also has made me very disciplined and good at creating systems.
A decade plus of consulting, real estate development and relocating to Colorado’s Front Range lead me to meet Choozle, CEO and co-founder, Andrew Fischer. Andrew was born to be a CEO, he excels at his job and I am fortunate to have him as a founding partner and work-wife. We both wear a few C-level hats – he takes on more of the CRO & CFO functions, I handle more of the CTO & CMO responsibilities and we jointly act as COO. My primary role though is Product and it is where I belong. I have a job that allows me to solve real problems on a daily basis. Choozle’s vision toward the market allows me to think about solving these problems in a design-focused way, with the user always at the core of that thinking. I am a very lucky guy.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Andrew Fischer: We are seeing a convergence between what is currently regarded as “martech” and “adtech.” Bottom line, both are trying to drive positive ROI for marketing budgets. And often they fall into one of the two buckets largely because of their monetization model: martech tends to sell as true SaaS solution, and adtech most often takes a percentage of media spend. In my experience, martech tends to be more of a client direct sale, and adtech tends to be focused on the clients’ ad agencies. However, the capabilities and models are often complementary – and thus we are seeing a healthy collision and perhaps eventual aggregation of the two industries since they are ultimately focused on the same goals.
Jeffrey Finch: We have all read how ad tech and martech are going to become “one” due to technology. Tech media outlets paint this picture but from my view it won’t happen fully because Advertising, and the tech that drives it, is only a single component of Marketing. Marketing technology will continue to drive its own technology towards automation around collection and management of first party data and a direct result will be greater scale. Marketers will begin to see more third party data layering tools for analytics and modeling and there will be consolidation of scattered services into more unified “stacks”. In PR specifically, those who figure out how to provide transparent, scalable distribution, honest reporting and create new metrics around exposure / engagement will change that part of the industry.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Andrew Fischer: I think we are just scratching the surface on how data can and will impact marketing. Moving past the common 1st and 3rd party data targeting tactics (which are highly effective in increasing campaign performance), the industry has immense potential for more advanced, efficient, and effective data utilization. I think the predictive and machine learning areas of data (and also how it impacts creative) are the most interesting areas right now. As they continue evolve, we are getting closer to the digital marketing holy grail: delivering the right message, to the right person, and the right time.
Jeffrey Finch: Though I am not getting too excited just yet I cannot help but think where immersive VR experiences are going to take us in the next 5 – 10 years. Advertising and business opportunities aside, just imagine the benefits gained through the sharing of experiential information, on nearly any topic, across cultures and continents, on demand and delivered through a seamless hands-free experience. There is limitless potential there and I can’t wait to see where it ends up.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
Andrew Fischer: Attribution. When you are working across multiple mediums and platforms and partners, it is still very difficult to effectively analyze and determine exactly how each dollar spent actually drives results.
Jeffrey Finch: Creative and Messaging. Crappy creative or message with no call to action will not perform well no matter how great our targeting abilities are or where you are serving the content. The tools have come a long way recently and there are models and options for every budget and skill level. Were here to help, just ask.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Andrew Fischer: Per number 3, I think some of the most interesting developments in the space are around AI and machine learning and its application to drive better performance in marketing and digital advertising.
Jeffrey Finch: I like what DekeDigital here in Denver is doing to shift the PR industry. TermScout, also a Colorado company started by a friend, Chris Silvestri, is one I am watching in the data and lead-gen space. Flexitive and some other ad builder / DCO companies as well.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Andrew Fischer: On the business side of the house, we leverage Salesforce, Gmail, Pardot, InsightSquared, Freshdesk, Google Docs, and Sendgrid, among others.
Jeffrey Finch: Choozle, Pardot, Salesforce, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Trello, and Email.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Andrew Fischer: Be kind to the robots who are soon to be our overlords. 😉 I think we are very much still in the early stages of AI’s application in marketing and advertising. To prepare, I try to read as much as possible, meet with companies in the space, and attend relevant events to stay up to speed.
Jeffrey Finch: I prepare by making sure I clearly understand what the data / technology is truly capable of telling us and what it is not. Knowing what it can and cannot do. The saying, “the data doesn’t lie” is only sort of true, it depends on the data and in the end data is only part of the story. Somewhere in this story a real person needs to explain the strategy to a client, someone needs to sell it and, by the way, it has to perform to the campaign goals.
Data doesn’t buy stuff or complete forms, people do. People are not artificial, nor is our intelligence, let’s not be too hasty to forget about that piece. If we focus too much on artificially trying to think like people we may just lose our understanding of them. Give people some credit, make them responsible for at least some of their experience. Marketing is still a people business, despite the technology, and I will always want to provide positive outcomes for the people I work with. If AI helps me do this, awesome, but it will be treated as another strategy or option to help achieve the goal not as a replacement.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Andrew Fischer: We executed an integrated marketing campaign to promote the release of Choozle’s whitepaper “Adoption of Self-Serve Platform Operation by Advertising Agencies” and prompt those in the marketing and advertising industry to download and view the whitepaper. Overall the campaign generated 3.5 Million impressions, with a .11% CTR on display ads and 50% CTR on email, and a $3.50 Cost Per Download. Not only was it a great way for our sales team to engage with prospects but also a solid lead gen strategy for our marketing team.
Jeffrey Finch: 2015 was the first full year we could run our Choozle platform directly against Adwords in a twelve-month Return on Ad Spend case study. We were targeting marketing and advertising professionals using a wide variety of tactics. The case study results were positive to say the least. We achieved 4 to 1 ROAS from Adwords, a great number all day long. Calculations then showed a 12 to 1 ROAS when using the Choozle platform. The results were valid, the Choozle platform delivered 3 times value against the world’s de facto SMB self-serve advertising platform, Google Adwords. This was a high point in the realization of the value we were bringing to the marketplace.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Andrew Fischer: Relentless
Jeffrey Finch: Deliberate
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Andrew Fischer: I use Salesforce and InsightSquared to manage our revenue. I’m also a frequent user of LinkedIn, Slack, and Evernote. And I utilize Uber nearly everywhere I travel for business.
Jeffrey Finch: 5x8.25 Moleskine journal, good pen, Gmail, Google Maps, JIRA, Product Plan, Slack, Hangouts, Evernote.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Andrew Fischer: It’s best to catch up on busywork, including email, during the non-peak business hours.
Jeffrey Finch: Working towards outcomes not situations. This keeps me focused on the bigger picture and allows some awareness within the near term chaos.
Working fast and slow. Translated as making quick decisions towards a big goal, always keep moving forward but realize quickly if the decision was not optimal. If not then tweak and move on. Rinse and repeat.
Remain humble and teachable. I learn something from someone I work with everyday. I do not know everything so I listen, if I do this more than I talk then I am already ahead.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Andrew Fischer: For those working in startups and/or high growth companies, I always recommend the book “The Hard Things about Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. I keep up with many industry trades including AdExchanger, Re/Code, MediaPost, and BusinessInsider. And I listen to many startup and technology podcasts when I’m driving or working out including: a16z, Tim Ferriss, and Turnpikers (local Colorado shoutout).
Jeffrey Finch: Zen and the Art of Poker – a gift from my 15 year old son. Lonely Planet Discover Japan – we are planning our first trip to Japan in 2018.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Andrew Fischer: Build for the long haul, and stay focused.
Jeffrey Finch: If nothing changes, nothing changes.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Andrew Fischer: I am relentless about building and nurturing a positive culture at Choozle. I want all of our employees to have great opportunities to execute work that is fulfilling, to be challenged, but while also advancing their careers and having a lot of fun along the way. I focus on this, because these are the same things that are important to me. Thus, our deliberately culturally focused environment also ensures the maximization my personal productivity and success.
Jeffrey Finch: I have the ability / gift to distill complicated or messy information from scattered sources and unify it in a simple, concise message. This really helps in explaining concepts to colleagues and clients, sure, but the “message” more often than not can be a process discovery or an efficiency gain, perhaps a solution to a business decision. My mind never stops finding faults to improve upon or to gain an edge. As you can imagine this last piece is both a blessing and a curse.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Andrew Fischer: Elon Musk
MTS: Thank you Jeffrey & Andrew! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Jeffrey Finch is Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at Choozle – Digital Marketing Made Easy™. With nearly 20 years in the digital media space his primary focus has been in the areas of digital advertising, search and social media. He has been a digital marketing and strategy consultant for small to medium-sized businesses for over a decade and has owned and operated several online companies. Connect with him on LinkedIn and @AndrewFischer_1 on Twitter.
About the MarTech Interview Series
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.