Kate O’Loughlin talks about her journey at SuperAwesome and sets up an ideal definition for ‘Customer Experience’ for kids.
Kids’ Digital Advertising Ecosystem
How big is your team and what drives them to succeed in meeting small-term and long-term business goals at SuperAwesome?
We have about 120 people at SuperAwesome, with around twenty percent of the team in North America. We’re driven by creating and driving a whole new industry called kid-tech. It’s hard work now because we’re both defining and executing kid-tech, like the proverbial “laying the tracks while driving the train.”
We’re setting ourselves up to reach our long-term goal of helping brands use current and future digital platforms to connect with kids compliantly, safely and effectively.
How tech-savvy are your marketing, sales, and branding teams? How do you rate them on a scale of 1-10?
I’ll give us an 8. No one is a 10 — this industry moves too fast.
How do you think young business executives should train themselves to master MarTech and Adtech management skills?
Because this industry moves so fast, train yourself to learn something every day and encourage your team to do the same. It’s good to know a little something about emerging trends so you understand how they might be able to help your business, but also take the time to dive in deeper on a topic you find particularly interesting. Feed your brain!
What does your ‘Ideal Customer’ look like?
My ideal SuperAwesome customer is a team willing to brainstorm and open up about their worries. Sometimes a customer will pigeonhole a partner into a solution they want, but then they risk missing a bigger opportunity to solve the actual problem.
What is the state of kids’ digital media ecosystem? How is it different from the B2B advertising space?
The kids’ digital media ecosystem is in the “Spring” of its lifetime. In its “Winter,” brands spent all of their marketing dollars on TV, publishers and platforms ignored the existence of kids online and everyone struggled to make engaging digital content. Now, in the Spring, brands recognize that kids spend their time digitally and are shifting dollars to match consumer behavior. We are also seeing brands invest in a bottoms-up COPPA and GDPR-K compliance strategy, rather than being reactive or blissfully ignorant.
What would be an ideal definition of ‘Customer Experience’ for kids?
Kids’ experiences need to be authentic, engaging and social, without carrying the baggage of tracking or the exposure to inappropriate content. Their customer experience shouldn’t be divided between TV and digital, rather it should be as seamless as how they use their devices. For kids, the conversion is deep engagement and becoming part of a brand’s retained community.
And remember — don’t call them a “kid.”
B2B Marketing Strategy and Customer Acquisition Models
Tell us about your role at SuperAwesome and how you got here.
I joined SuperAwesome in September of 2017 after almost a decade of working in data-driven ad tech. In my previous roles, I lead product development and was a General Manager responsible for large, cross-functional business units. In my three marketing-related experiences, each focused on creating a new category: MediaMath built the programmatic and DSP space, Tapad invented the cross-screen identity category and now I’m very happy to be a part of creating kid-tech. From my “war wounds” and previous experiences, I’m responsible for capitalizing on the incredible kid-tech opportunity that SuperAwesome has in North America.
What would be the top branding tips for entrepreneurs focusing on Kids advertising?
For brands, don’t mistake advertising to parents as a conduit for connecting with kids. You need to invest in building pester power with your real consumer. And don’t guess what resonates with kids — ask them directly and do research.
For kid-tech providers, expect a lot of time spent on education alongside your product development.
Are modern advertising technologies pushing the boundaries of present-day brand engagement and customer experience?
Yes and no. The core concepts of marketing remain intact like testimonial advertising through influencers and creators. But it’s the fragmentation of devices, change in consumption behaviors and proliferation of global communities that lead to the need for advertising technology to push the boundaries of traditional advertising methods.
Whether “traditional” or “modern,” it’s clear that innovation can’t come at the compromise of consumer consent and control of how the tech is used for them.
What are the challenges in meeting total digital privacy (COPPA/GDPR-K) for children?
One major challenge is for publishers and content creators to recognize that children are in their audiences and need to be treated specially. Some companies do not think that COPPA/GDPR-K apply to them, either because they don’t understand the scope of the laws or because they chose to ignore the laws because they think compliance is too expensive to obtain. In both cases, it can end up being more expensive in the cost of bad headlines, retrofitting tech or fines, than just to learn, build and manage for kids data privacy laws.
Customer Success and Technology Insights
What is that one piece of advice you received that you would like to pass on to the MarTech industry?
Make it easier. For short-term gains, we could hide behind the complexity of tech. But the long-term gains are in the eyes of our buyers, we need to do more to simplify how to buy and deploy tech to get the most good. In the eyes of consumers, we need to simply be transparent about how the tech is used for them.
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Thank You, Kate, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again at MTS, soon.