Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of a video technology company?
When evaluating my options for a CMO role, consumer trends began playing a larger role in the overall marketing industry. The insatiable consumer appetite for video combined with the inexorable rise of relevance (in the form of personalization and brought about by companies like Amazon, NetFlix, Spotify, Apple and Google) meant that if I could find a company building differentiated technology at the intersection of those trends, it would be a compelling opportunity.
From the point of view of a video technology company, how would you define “Digital Transformation’ and “Digital Innovation” respectively?
For me, digital transformation means that a certain process uses digital technology to transform (or augment) the consumer journey in a new way. For instance, Citi uses SundaySky’s SmartVideo to help educate new cardholders on the benefits of Citi’s mobile app, which Citi wants them to take advantage of. Digital innovation means that someone at a Fortune 500 company has a budget to pilot certain new/untested initiatives, and personalized video might fall in that realm.
How do personalized video deliverables match up to the modern-day customer experience standards?
In general, we enable video to go from linear to modular and from static to data-driven — This ability comes at a perfect time when rethinking customer experience. Video historically has a been a broadcast medium — a ‘write once, play anywhere’ initiative. But the new consumer imperative is that brands must get personal with their prospects and customers, or they’ll get ignored. So why wouldn’t you want to treat each customer as an individual and do so in an emotionally arresting way with video? This is what we advocate at SundaySky.
What are the major pain points for businesses when they deal with the multi-touch video engagements?
Sequential storytelling is becoming more important, as is rethinking how to create video in a way that can be modular versus static. It’s no longer about shooting for the ‘perfect 15- or 30-second spot.’ Today, it’s using data to best assemble scenes in real-time that create a 48-second personalized video for customer A to help her on her journey, while a different set of scenes assemble to create a 68-second personalized video to help customer B on his similar (but not the same) journey.
What are the key business video-CRM metrics that modern marketers should have at their fingertips?
At the minimum, it’s the time spent and value created on an exposed versus non-exposed basis. However, it depends on the objective. If a marketer wants to use a personalized video to help reduce call volume at a call center, then understanding the cost-per-call and ROI when a would-be caller watches a personalized video instead becomes imperative. For example, if a financial services marketer uses a personalized video to help drive increases in average-monthly-contributions, then the contribution value over time of the exposed group becomes important. Bottom line: if you can’t ascribe tangible business value to a video initiative, then it’s either for vanity or the initiative belongs in an innovation budget wherein the rest of your marketing efforts can subsidize the cost given the uncertain outcome.
What are your predictions for programmatic video engagements for 2018? How does SundaySky prepare for these?
We’re very excited about the work we’re doing with Facebook and Google to bridge the gap between those two closed attention ecosystems and ultimately be able to deliver the SundaySky SmartVideo to our customers everywhere.
What startups in the martech industry are you watching/keen on right now?
Rather than ‘following the money’ purely, I’m interested in following intriguing and top industry leaders and seeing what gets them excited. For instance, my friend Scott McKinley just took on the CEO role at IDify, a marketing identity startup trying to solve bad data. Anything around identity and/or the creation of a customer data platform (distinct from a data management platform, which historically operates in a ‘cookie-space’) is and will continue to be hot. Chris Cunningham at Unacast are doing some interesting work surrounding contextualized location data (as is the company Factual). Two other topics I’m following quite closely are AI and voice-as-an-operating-system. At the intersection of those two you’ll find Omar Tawakol building an interesting business at Voicera and its in-meeting AI assistant (he’ll always be a martech alumni!). And while I haven’t seen anyone doing anything breakthrough with blockchain and martech yet, there’s likely to be at least one startup that will harness blockchain technology to solve for fraud in the online advertising industry.
What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2018?
- Salesforce (Customer Data Record)
- Hubspot (Marketing Automation)
- JIRA (Request/Project/Team Management)
- Highspot (Uniformity/Consistency of Assets Across the Organization)
- Qualtrics (Client Feedback, Consumer Surveys)
- Google Analytics (Website and SEM/SEO Analytics)
SundaySky (using our own capabilities to deliver SmartVideo advertising to prospects, as well as SmartVideo for our own CRM initiatives)
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader? How do you leverage AI capabilities at SundaySky?
As a company we’re continually investing in AI to improve our efforts at automating human processes and improving algorithms to optimize our solutions for our customers. As a marketing leader, I encourage my team to go deep in the humanities and what it means to be human as I view AI more like Ironman than like the Terminator. At the World Economic Forum this year, Jack Ma talked about how education needs to change such that we’re not teaching people ‘knowledge’ (which can be easily replicated/surpassed by AI), but rather what it means to be human – the arts, music, etc.
How do you bring together people and technology at one place?
We’re fortunate that our team isn’t geographically distributed, so it’s easy to call together a scrum when necessary. I’m also a little bit old school in that I love whiteboards and use them frequently to sketch out ideas, project plans, checklists, etc.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I’m looking at the first screen of my iPhone now, which includes:
- Google Maps
- NY Times
- Harmony (remote)
- Hue (Philips Lights)
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Definitely 1Password – a password management app that works across all browsers, operating systems and mobile devices.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
- Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life by Wynton Marsalis (a real book with paper!)
- Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer by Carmen Bambach (book!)
- Principles by Ray Dalio (Kindle edition)
- The Terminal List by Jack Carr (written by a friend)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I have two:
- Rigorous follow-through (attributed to Don Burton)
- The phone doesn’t ring on its own – you make it ring (attributed to John Durham)
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you Eric! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
As a 4-time CMO of marketing and advertising technology companies, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the finest marketers in the world, build and scale award-winning teams, and lead one company through its IPO (Rocket Fuel).
I previously was a co-founder of Underscore Marketing, a fully independent, full-service digital marketing and strategy agency launched in 2002. I helped build the team into a recognized Inc 1000 company and expand its presence internationally.
I am also a co-founder of Pericles Consulting, a ‘pop-up’ strategic political marketing firm that developed and executed digital marketing programs for Presidential and Senatorial campaigns across the country.
SundaySky sits at the intersection of two of the hottest consumer trends today: personalization and video. SundaySky SmartVideo combines the power of personalization with the emotion of sight, sound and motion to deliver personalized storytelling for the digital age. No two SundaySky videos are the same, and we power CRM and advertising solutions for some of the largest brands on the planet, including AT&T, Citibank, The Home Depot, Staples and Verizon.
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.