Interview with David Shadpour, CEO at Social Native
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role at Social Native and how you got here.
I am the CEO at Social Native. My primary role is to ensure everyone on our team loves their job. We all have good and bad days, but when I think about every job I’ve had in my life, this is by far the best. That blessing carries with it the responsibility to ensure my team, investors, and clients, all love their experience with Social Native.
How? Relentless tenacity and commitment.
Since we launched in early 2015, we recruited industry experts Jeff Ragovin, Co-Founder of Buddy Media, acquired by Salesforce for $745M, and Eytan Elbaz, Co-Creator of AdSense, acquired by Google for $104M. We grew from 5 employees at the start of 2016 to 30 at the end of the year. We partnered with the leaders in digital marketing including Facebook, Instagram, and Salesforce. And we’ve enabled brands like Walgreens, Coca-Cola, and Polaroid to create over 700 images in 24 hours, create 500 short-form videos in 72 hours and increase the performance of paid ads by 4x.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Personalization. Technology limitations of the early advertising space required a one-size-fits-all strategy. Imagine a world where no two people receive the same ad experience. A world where a female who loves surfing, gets an ad of a female surfing, drinking a Coca-Cola and a father who loves building, gets an ad of a father in a workshop, drinking a Coca-Cola.
Today this breakthrough in advertising is seemingly impossible. How could Coca-Cola possibly create content for every target segment? How would this content be tagged and communicated to advertising distribution partners like Facebook or Google?
We’re closer than you think. With the proliferation of gig economies, consumers’ ability to create content, the wealth of data on consumer behavior/demographic, and advertisers’ ability to distribute content in real time, we are on the cusp of redefining every step of the advertising funnel.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Mobile’s impact on marketplaces. The online marketplace has transformed nearly every industry, think Uber for transportation and Airbnb for hospitality, there’s a long list of other industries ripe for transformation. The unparalleled access and abilities unlocked by empowering consumers to become service providers will turn antiquated businesses upside down.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
The biggest challenge CMOs are currently up against is how to maintain relevance within their target audiences. People are ultra-connected. Markets constantly shift. New trends emerge. Competitors enter and shake things up. Customers expect more from the brands they buy from. It’s not about just being the most convenient option or the cheapest option.
With a world of data available to consumers at their fingertips, and all products available with the click of a button, brands will win this game by building relationships with consumers – cutting through the noise to connect with consumers through authentic, personalized and relevant marketing.
MTS: What would be your advice to CMOs when they start planning to invest in Marketing Technologies?
Who are you investing with? Marketing technologies can be like shiny toys, it looks fun and exciting but are they built to last? Think about the manufacturer – are they reliable? Is the senior team focused on margin or value add? Regardless of what technology we’re evaluating – the right partners always drive value.
MTS: What Start-ups are you watching/keen on right now?
I’m watching/keen on a lot of startups right now – actually I’m pretty much obsessed with learning about new and more mature startups – how they evolved, where they are headed, pain points, successes/failures etc… I’m most interested in LA based startups, specifically folks who managed to earn the unicorn title. Personal favorites: Robinhood, DollarShaveClub & Scopely.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We currently invest heavily in CRM, email marketing, and analytics. Going into 2017 we’re looking into program management, ABM, content management, and additional inbound and advertising technologies. We use Social Native for content creation.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Polaroid needed to increase the volume of content they ran on paid to minimize the impact of content fatigue and as a result, decreased performance.
The brand partnered with Social Native, a technology company for cost-efficient, high-quality authentic brand content that’s paired with rich performance data.
Instead of running white backdrop product images in Facebook ads, Polaroid leveraged Social Native to create custom, personalized content for every consumer segment. By running personalized and leveraging the Social Native Optimization Engine to adjust for performance in real-time, Polaroid achieved:
– 213% higher click through rate
– 200% higher return on ad spend when using Social Native content
– 180% lift in sales
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Recognize that almost all processes are going to change and embrace it. The most successful marketing leaders are those who can adapt and evolve with the changing market landscape. Social Native has built machine learning into our matching technology and is focused on ensuring that AI plays a role in future evolutions of our product. We’ll never know what tomorrow holds, so the best preparation is to a create a frame of mind where you’re ready for whatever is thrown your way.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools you love using for your daily life?
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Weekly review. Simply, but profound. Where did I allocate my hours this week? Write it down. What could have been delegated? What could only be completed by me? Learn, Repeat, Learn, Repeat.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read/watch, and how do you consume information?)
Currently reading — The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham.
I consume most information from people in the industry. Our category is running faster than publications can type and distribute – if you want to consume relevant information, surround yourself with relevant people.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t chase success. Recognize that you are already successful.”
Believe, more than anything else, that you will figure it out. When the times get tough – and they always do – remember you were made for this challenge and that how you handle this challenge defines you. With time, endless hard work and that unbreakable commitment, the unimaginable will be accomplished and even bigger dreams will keep you up at night.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Commitment. Both myself and my team have an unwavering commitment to being number one. If you’re committed, you’ll find a way.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Jeff Ragovin – Co-founder Buddy Media, former Chief Strategy Officer Salesforce, Founder at Ragovin Ventures
MTS: Thank you, David! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
As CEO of Social Native, David drives company growth, increasing market penetration and identifying new business opportunities. David entered the digital ecosystem when he founded GroopBuy, a digital marketing agency. Within 6 months he signed 450+ clients. David later moved on to found AmplifyBuzz, a social media agency for dozens of top tier brands including Crocs, Kraft, and Warner Brothers.
Social Native is the technology platform for creating high performing branded content. Social Native connects brands with a diverse network of content creators, globally, to create custom content on demand. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Social Native is backed by veterans of Google, Salesforce, Scopely, Applied Semantics, & Buddy Media, whose past startups have created over $6B in equity value. Visit socialnative.com to learn more.
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.