Interview with Ari Brandt, CEO and Co-Founder, Receptiv
Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to start a mobile video advertising platform?
I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Receptiv which is a leading mobile video advertising platform. WhenReceptiv was founded, (formerly known as MediaBrix) mobile advertising was an afterthought, legacy desktop ad formats reduced to fit on a mobile screen, and brands dollars were mostly spent on mobile web, but the freemium app economy was growing extremely fast, both in terms of usage and types of apps. The one thing that wasn’t evolving at the same rate was the development of ad products to engage users in a positive manner. I’ve spent my entire career working with brands from my time at leading ad agencies to Yahoo, developing strategies that answered their needs which fundamentally was “I want to have a conversation with my users. I want to connect with them, have it be a positive and memorable experience”.
Digital advertising was flourishing with big splashy, take over your screen experiences but fundamentally, I always felt that yes – you’ve got my eyes, you’ve got my attention but I felt irritated and wronged by brands and those publishers for being so invasive – I wasn’t having a conversation with the interstitial, it wasn’t positive, and if I remembered it – it wasn’t a memory that the brand wanted me to have. Consumer behavior and brand behavior weren’t aligning and both were starting to suffer. We really wanted to reimagine advertising for the mobile medium by putting human experience at the center of this experience and Receptiv was born. I spent the earlier years investigating mobile behaviors and designing products that would ingest that bi-directional data flow that mobile offers us and leveraging that to create brand-to-human connections. Now, our tech and product teams are innovating and engineering towards that mission of putting human experience at the center of it all. No matter what that “all” is.
How do you see the contemporary trends in consumer experience management influencing adoption of mobile video platforms?
Brands are looking to create instances of brand engagement throughout a user’s day. That means from sun up to sun down, when and where can I be part of the conversation? Mobile and video are seeing seismic shifts in usage and consumption, respectively and brands are starting to realize that a full-court pressure approach requires some new rules of engagement. Time and attention have become the new currency, and the most efficient and effective path towards those new KPIs are through respect – knowing when, how and with what to approach a user.
In 2018, what would be the biggest expectations from mobile video advertising technologies?
I think expectations will be less about the technology and more about the supply chain, and the relationships that buyers and sellers have with content. The vast amount of content being consumed on a mobile device is almost unquantifiable, so the focus will be on the supply chain. Brands realize that the days of being able to personally recognize all the supply are over. The days of 30 channels and a Thursday Prime Time line up are long gone. Mobile has millions of high-quality, brand-safe content publishers that serve every aspect of a user’s life (which they want to be a part of) and being able to responsibly evaluate those environments and transact against them will be a big win for brands. Transparency, 0% fraud and 100% brand safety should be and will be table stakes in 2018.
What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
For good reason, the two hottest buzzwords in our industry right now are AI and Blockchain. Deep learning, data, security and validation are core tenets of the future of digital media – there are hundreds of companies entering this space and it’s too early to predict the winners.
What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Most of our tech stack was built in-house on Microsoft’s .NET and Azure, so our next-gen ad server, order management system, video player and 1st party DMP are proprietary to us.
Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign?
We have run thousands of campaigns over the years that have been successful for different reasons. A more recent campaign that we’re proud of was for Mars….
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
We have spirited conversations on this subject, as AI is currently one of the most overhyped and misunderstood terms in the industry. There are several early and clear applications in areas such as search, dynamic/intelligent creative (IBM Watson) and chatbots which have shown some of AI’s immense potential. I would argue that we are nowhere close to an AI-centric centric world yet – we are just scratching the surface of that technology and to organize your business around potential adoption could be labeled as careless and harmful. That said, the first, and most important step in preparing for artificial intelligence is to have a cohesive data strategy as part of your core values. And while many use that language, putting it in practice is much more difficult than people give it credit. From a practical application standpoint, you prepare for AI by staying close to technology as it evolves and leveraging it when it makes sense for your business.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
For business: on my iPhone – Slack, Salesforce, Pocket, Google Drive, LinkedIn and DropBox are my “go-to” apps throughout the day. I also love mountain biking – and use Strava as a way of tracking my progress.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I don’t believe in shortcuts – I believe great things happen with planning, effort and execution. I wouldn’t consider it a hack, but more of a habit that helps me be more productive – it relates to time shifting – I spend at least one hour every Sunday night focusing on the week ahead, creating priorities and mapping out what success looks like for the week. I’m also up by 4:30 am most mornings and use that quiet time to work out and get on top of industry news/developments and clear out my inbox before the day starts.
What are you currently reading?
For pleasure, I’ve been reading a fair amount of sci-fi, such as Old Man’s War, Ready Player One, and Ender’s Game to name a few. I love the escapism that science fiction gives me from the daily grind. Ready Player One is particularly relevant with all of the AR/VR developments in the market.
For business, I have a daily digest of around 10 newsletters to stay current with the industry. I’m not a big fan of business books but I recently read Give & Take by Adam Grant and found it valuable when evaluating my team and prospective hires.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Effort exceeds talent, 99% of the time.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you Ari! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ari Brandt co-founded Receptiv (formerly known as MediaBrix), an in-app mobile video ad platform connecting brands to receptive users during meaningful moments, in 2011 and serves as the company’s CEO and Chairman. He is a seasoned media executive and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience building profitable digital businesses and advertising platforms.
Over the course of his career, Brandt has played a key role in launching and developing innovative brands and products for renowned media and advertising technology organizations.
Before founding Receptiv, Brandt was the CEO at Linkstorm, an advertising technology company, where he led the company through consecutive years of triple-digit growth and global expansion. He has also worked as the head of digital media for Condé Nast Business Media Group and led the launch of Portfolio.com. Prior to Conde Nast, Brandt held management roles at prominent media and ad tech companies including Yahoo! and DoubleClick. He started his career working in media and account management at leading advertising agencies such as Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, Weiss Whitten Stagliano, and MVBMS/Euro RSCG.
Brandt regularly speaks at industry conferences and most recently has been a featured speaker at SXSW, ad:tech, DEW, Inside Mobile Apps, MediaPost’s OMMA Global, MediaPost’s Social Media Insider Summit and MIN Digital Media Summit. Additionally, he has contributed articles and been quoted in widely-read media outlets such as Adweek, Ad Age, Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, MediaPost, Mobile Marketer and Digiday.
Receptiv is the leading mobile video advertising platform serving Ad Age’s top brands and world’s largest mobile publishers. Receptiv’s technology uniquely understands mobile journeys to target and create high-impact video experiences featuring real-time contextualization and value exchange resulting in the most engaged and receptive brand to user engagements. Founded as MediaBrix in 2011 and named an Adweek Top Mobile Innovator, Receptiv puts human experience at the center of digital advertising, available via both programmatic and managed service to create contextualized brand engagements during 500 million key moments every month. Backed by investors including Edison Partners and Revel Partners, Receptiv delivers measurable value for the world’s leading brands, including Mars, Coca-Cola, Sprint, BMW, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Merck, and 20th Century Fox. To learn more, visit www.receptiv.com.
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.