Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start Pressboard?
To take you way back, I fell in love with marketing when I was 10 years old. My favorite sitcom was a show called “Who’s the Boss” and the lead character, Angela Bower, was starting up her own ad agency. I thought it was amazing that there was a real career out there where you could tell stories for a living.
How is Pressboard different from other online Content Marketing companies?
I hope in many ways that we share the same mission and fundamental beliefs as other Content Marketing companies. I feel what makes Content Marketing companies different from the rest of the AdTech/MarTech world is that we believe that a story is incredibly powerful and exponentially better than a banner ad. Each Content Marketing company approaches that same mission of storytelling in different ways; some are focused on production, others on distribution, others on measurement. Our approach is to make it easy for brands to create and publish their content on influential media publications. We then automate the distribution and measurement of those stories. We’re an end-to-end solution for a brand.
What is the state of the “Sponsored Content” marketplace in 2018? How is it different from the “Branded Content” market?
It’s all just jargon, to be honest. Content Marketing, Native Content, Sponsored Content, Branded Content — it’s a lot of different names for the same thing: A story that has been created with a brand and their potential customers (audience) in mind. It isn’t a new format, either. John Deere produced a magazine called The Furrow in 1895 to help farmers better manage their crops and livestock. Airbnb partnered with Hearst in 2017 to create Airbnbmag to help travelers better understand the cities they’re exploring. Nothing’s changed, except that we now have much faster ways of scaling content production and distribution than we did 100 years ago, and better ways to know what’s working.
What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does Pressboard add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?
We add value in 3 ways:
- Speed to market: We show brands the data on every publisher, their audience, and their costs to publish branded content. What used to take weeks of research is now available instantaneously.
- Analytics: Our technology not only measures a brand story to see how it’s performing, but we’re able to benchmark that story against thousands of others to see its relative success.
- ROI: A brand story is a big part of a customer’s journey, but not the only one. Giving the brand the ability to reach that customer after they’ve been exposed to the content — providing them with another piece of content or an offer later — helps connect the top of the funnel to the bottom. Content that converts is what will make this space sustainable over the long term.
In the Fake News and malvertising era, how do you stay on top of your business model?
Disclosure is key. We ensure that every campaign follows the FTC guidelines and that the viewer of the story is aware that a brand is involved in the story’s creation. For the most part, if a story is interesting, educational, or entertaining, the brand should be proud to put their name on it. We don’t breach privacy or mislead the reader. Beyond the moral stance, we don’t believe that’s a very smart long-term business plan.
How different is the user-generated content ecosystem in the US today than when you first started here?
Since Pressboard works exclusively with premium media publishers, all our brand content is professional grade. User-generated content can be great, but it’s also difficult to keep consistent in both quality and message. The other major challenge in using UGC is that it’s created by regular people, and people are naturally fallible. How many times have we seen an influencer publicly endorse a product (and, in turn, the brand endorse the influencer), and then the next day they’re in the news for something unsavory that happened in their past? User-generated content is amazing from an organic perspective, but when it comes to Marketing Content, using professional organizations with a level of quality reduces the risk without reducing the effect.
How does it compare against the digital content marketplaces in Europe and APAC?
Europe is well known for their strict privacy regulations, especially as it applies to American companies such as Google and Facebook. The regulations they impose can be a technical hurdle at times, but we’re aligned with the spirit of protecting a user’s privacy. AdTech has gone from useful to creepy over the last few years, and it’s probably about time for a correction.
Do you see GDPR impacting your business operations? How do you cope with the data privacy-related disruptions?
Since we’re in the business of helping brands tell stories, GDPR has not directly affected our approach or business model. That being said, we do rely on some non-personal information such as IP addresses to analyze what region a user comes to a story from, and collecting that type of information is definitely more difficult under GDPR. However, it’s a minor issue in our business. The companies most affected by the regulation are companies that were collecting personal data without asking the user.
What startups in the marketing technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
I like what I’m seeing from Apple and Snapchat from a privacy perspective: respecting the user while still operating a growing business. I also think that many direct-to-consumer brands are applying Marketing Technology in new and fascinating ways, whether it’s Article.com integrating their marketing stack into their e-commerce journey to better understand their customer, or Indochino using their Marketing Technology to schedule their in-store fitting sessions. From a pure MarTech perspective, Adobe is well positioned to own the marketing industry. Being able to create in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, then immediately deploy that creative through their marketing automation and track it all with powerful analytics, is a home run for a marketer.
What Marketing and Sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
We leverage Pardot and Salesforce for our marketing and CRM needs and connect that data to our own platform whenever we are running our own content campaigns. For distribution, Facebook is king and queen. We’ve used every distribution method out there and nothing brings quality audiences to content like Facebook.
Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign?
We recently ran some brand content for Trunk Club, which is a subscription service that brings great “Trunks” of clothes right to your door. They were acquired by Nordstrom a few years ago. Fashion content is perfect since it’s something that people want to read. The stories included style advice from publishers such as Refinery29 and The Cut, and people absolutely loved it. Not only was the content highly read and shared, but it drove a disproportionate level of quality customers to Trunk Club’s site, which they were able to attribute to directly to the campaign. Great stories, exciting brand, influential publishers, and conversions, too.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
I, for one, am excited to welcome our AI overlords. If you check the news, we aren’t doing so hot on our own.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
Our team is relatively young and so they’ve grown up with the idea of cloud technology, apps, and social media as part of life and work. For anyone that didn’t, once you realize that technology can help you do more at work and home, you quickly get used to having a few extra logins.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Slack, my Surface Laptop, and my iPhone. I’m not very brand loyal when it comes to technology. I like using whatever works best for my needs.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
I put everything in my calendar, and I mean everything. Tasks, meetings, personal reminders. It allows me to free up my mind for more strategic endeavors knowing that my calendar is there to remind me of a client meeting, project due date, or friend’s birthday.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’ve been into Sapiens and Homo Deus lately. The history of humans is humbling and gives you a different perspective. Maybe the barista messing up my latte order isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hire for strengths, not for lack of weakness.
Something you do better than others — the secret of your success?
I’m okay with looking like a fool from time to time, whether it’s in a boardroom or on a dance floor at a wedding. It lets me take bigger chances, and sometimes those risks lead to amazing new ideas or killer new dance moves.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Jerrid! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Jerrid Grimm is an entrepreneur, marketer and co-founder of Pressboard, the story marketplace for brands and publishers. He’s a regular contributor to AdAge and Forbes and is considered a thought leader in the content marketing industry.
Pressboard helps companies get their stories published on the world’s most popular media sites. Our philosophy is that when great brands and influential publishers come together, they can create powerful content that people love to read, watch and share.
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.