Interview with Oz Etzioni, CEO and Co-founder, Clinch

Interview with Oz Etzioni, CEO and Co-founder, Clinch
Oz Etzioni

“In order to capture all available channels under one roof, brands will have to use unified data, unified creatives and streamlined experiences that tracks each user on their journey.”

Tell us about your role and how you got here? What galvanized you to start Clinch?

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Clinch. My background is a combination of roles in aviation, industrial design, and digital advertising. In my last role I was Head of User Experience and Innovation at McCann Worldgroup (MRM) in New York. I founded Clinch together with my co-founder Raz Peter (CTO, based in Israel) to address a growing need and a true pain point for the advertising industry – dynamic personalized creative. As programmatic media buy took over – all budgets and focus were directed at targeting the right person at the right time, and with the rise of the walled gardens, people-based marketing became “the thing.” But one aspect was forgotten – the creative. Once you reach your target audience with high precision, on an individual level, what is the creative message you actually show them? Do you use the same generic ad you show everyone? Your message has to be relevant and resonate with each individual in order for them to engage – take them from awareness to direct response. We built Clinch to address that personalized creative necessity in video and display across all platforms to help brands better communicate with their audiences, understand them and increase sales.

How is Silicon Valley different from when you first started? How has the video advertising industry evolved in the last five years?

I believe that like many industries, Silicon Valley has matured in the way they measure and evaluate things (trends, companies, investments, etc.). Silicon Valley is relying more on data and analytics to go along with human intuition which is always important when building a solution and investing in people and companies. The video industry is one of the media vehicles that has evolved the most, both in terms of scale and importance (or more precisely – relevancy). Five years ago, video was mostly high-end video productions or user-generated content (UGC). Now, video has quickly evolved into the mainstream in native content and has become brands’ most effective communication tool. This is mostly thanks to the impact of the social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snap, etc.) and their growing feed-based platforms. It has gotten to the point today that if it is not a video, it is not “thumb-stop” worthy…and most likely won’t be seen.

At Clinch, how do you help companies transform customer relationships across the digital landscape?

We help them communicate with their audience, and prospect audience, on a one-to-one basis. Companies that work with Clinch are able to provide relevant content through any advertising channel to their target audience on a personalized level, using any ad format and on any platform and device. This type of communication is done throughout the funnel so a consumer will be communicated based on where they are in their own personal journey, from awareness, purchase and all the way to maintaining and building loyalty.

How should B2B marketers leverage customer data and video technologies for better audience reach and targeting? How do you deliver this benefit with ‘Clinch for Facebook’?

Marketers are collecting great amounts of data about their target audience, products/services, etc. However, they don’t necessarily always know what to do with it and how to best utilize it. We help them collect, translate and visualize that data into actionable advertising formats to reach and improve their KPI and goals. Marketers should do several things to leverage customer data and video tech:

  • Build CRM data – they should structure it in a way that serves them best in terms of their funnel stages and how communication with their audiences is supported throughout their funnel.
  • A/B test as many versions as possible to understand what creative performs best for which audience.
  • Generate and analyze actionable consumer insights and optimize creatives and media based on those insights in real time during the campaign (not on the next campaign).
  • Combine multiple formats (video and display in the same campaign) and use sequential messages based on user behavior.
  • Personalize video ads as much as possible based on any dynamic parameter available (user data, demo, behavior, weather, location, day-part, etc.)
  • Utilize all the targeting features and audience data available on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Invest in quality videos as the main communication vehicle. Generate the videos in all formats and across as many platforms and channels as possible that are relevant to your audience.

‘Clinch for Facebook’ does all of the above for our clients. Our Video AI™ technology generates as many video versions as required, all at the highest production level. It runs multiple tests using machine learning to optimize both the creative and the media buy while fine tuning the message per audience. It saves time and money for our clients, improves their overall performance and goals and better positions them in the market.

What would you say is the biggest driver for the change in media buying strategies? Would video content marketing the crux of every customer success story?

I would definitely argue that video is the game changer. Based on Facebook’s latest change to its algorithm that “downgraded” native (unpaid) video content, it leaves marketers with only one option – pay for visibility. In addition, marketers must invest in personalization of their ads and make them relevant so beyond just users seeing their ads, they will actually engage with them.

How do you see digital experience platforms evolving with the maturity of AI/ML and voice? What challenges do you foresee marketers will face? How do you prepare for an AI-centric ecosystem as a business leader?

I envision that as more ML and AI are integrated into advertising platforms and experiences, the demand from both the client side and the consumer side will be more focused on the granular and individual experience. Many marketers will have a hard time to adjust on many levels –  such as technology stack and platform integrations, databases and analysis tools to actually feed the ML and AI solution – and make sense of the vast amount of data available to determine what is truly valuable. But I think most of all, it’ll be a conceptual and organizational change that will be an obstacle to the less flexible and agile marketers, as it has to start from top management and be embraced as the way going forward. Or else they will find themselves at the same position print is at in its battle versus digital. At Clinch, we have built our technology based on AI and ML to address the amount of data, variables and optimization required at high scale, so we feel we are well equipped and actually excited to be part and lead this AI and ML evolution in the market, and to help the marketers that need our solution to make the jump.

How do you see the technology evolving around omnichannel video experience and customer data management in the coming years?

I think video will rule. We currently have a new generation that is growing with the notion that video is the main, if not the only, way to consume information. Older generations are rapidly adapting to consume mostly videos as well. The demand from the consumer side will grow (with the decrease in its attention span). This will require technology platforms to obtain a data management platform (DMP) for customer relationship management (CRM) data and a video omnichannel solution which will be integrated together. In order to deliver and capture all available formats, channels and devices under one roof as a ‘one stop shop’, brands will have to use unified data, unified creatives and streamlined experiences that tracks each user on their journey and provides them with a tailored video experience, for every stage.

What marketing and sales automation tools do you use?

We are using reply.io, Pipedrive, Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns.

Tell us about the new standards of B2B businesses and their idea of optimizing customer journeys?

I think, as detailed above, the standard becomes (aligned with the demand from the clients) to run dynamic and personalized advertising, and for the provider to consolidate the services and solutions as an end-to-end solution. This will provide all the necessary tools and methods in regards to dynamic advertising (e.g.: video and display) across programmatic and social that can run on all platforms and devices (mobile, OTT, Connected TV, Out of home, etc.).

What hass been your best digital transformation campaign?

For a travel industry client, we transformed a very complex set of different isolated campaigns into one unified campaign. We addressed and optimized the requirements and goals of all its previous campaigns, and revolutionized that clients approach from broad targeting into personalized advertising. The results from the campaign was a 30% sales lift, and we have since become their leading digital advertising providers and have been working together for more than 2 years, continuously expanding and growing with them.

How do you bring together people and inspire them to work with technology at Clinch?

We built a great, exciting product so people are attracted to work on and be part of its journey and pioneer the rapidly growing dynamic videos industry (especially on Facebook). At Clinch, we truly select our team members and ensure they have the DNA that fits our company’s culture. Our team sees the company’s success as their own and all work hard to maximize the results in every single campaign regardless of the size of the client. It is important to empower the team so they understand that they are vital and crucial to our success and not just role players.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Slack, WhatsApp, Bleacher Report (to get sports update every once in a while to maintain sanity), and Clearslide.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

I guess Slack channels and WhatsApp designated groups, plus occasional one-on-one meetings over coffee outside of the office.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I’m reading: Ready Player One,  the actual paper book…

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Trust your gut feeling.” “It’s all about grit…” and “To raise money when you don’t need it”.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Joe Zawadzki,  CEO, MediaMath.

Thank you Oz! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Oz Etzioni is CEO and co-founder of Clinch. After spending years leading user experience, design and innovation teams at major agencies, Etzioni founded Clinch to take advantage of the explosive growth in programmatic and address the need to provide data-driven video creative at scale.

Most recently, Etzioni helped to form and lead the user experience and innovation department at MRM, part of McCann WorldGroup in NYC, where he created and managed digital experiences and campaign strategy for some of the world’s biggest brands including ExxonMobil, US Army, Diageo, MasterCard, Verizon and General Motors.

Etzioni holds a bachelor’s degree in design from Parsons, The New School, where he graduated with honors. He also studied industrial design at the Elisava School of Design in Barcelona, Spain. Before that, he spent 11 years in the Israeli Air Force holding several command and management roles.

Etzioni is a Chicago Bulls fan, snowboarder, traveler and chocolate addict.

Clinch Logo
Clinch is the leader and innovator in the field of Dynamic Creative Video, using proprietary creative technology and data to automate video ad campaigns production and optimization tailored to the individual in real time. Clinch has offices in NYC , Israel and Mexico, employing some of the best talent from all over the world.

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.

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