Interview with Richard Thornton, COO and Deputy CEO, Cint
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role at Cint and how you got here? What inspired you to join an insight exchange?
I’m the Deputy CEO and COO for the global business and my background is in data and insights. I started out as a Research Analyst for a digital consultancy before getting into the marketing research technology space in 2003 with Ciao, one of the pioneers of online research panels (built of its industry leading price comparison e-commerce business), which was then acquired by Greenfield Online and subsequently sold to Microsoft, in a successful exit in 2008. At that point, I thought it was the opportune time to pursue a fresh challenge and saw Cint had a lot of potential as a real disruptor with a unique exchange model in a very traditional vertical (Market Research). The challenge back then was that the model was ahead of its time as an exchange and also primarily a self-service SaaS offering competing in a heavily dominated managed service oriented industry. It was actually this challenger position and the fact that this company has technology in its DNA that was appealing.
MTS: How do real-time tracking technologies and audience profiling solutions help monetization?
Cint’s insight exchange (our platform) brings several monetization opportunities to several facets of digital marketing. Per audience profiling, our platform is capturing unique first-person data points from over 200 mappable questions, asked to digital research participant (over 40 million registered in our platform and growing). The first-person data points we capture from the registered, verified consumers in our platform may then be licensed to DMPs and other data providers to validate existing data sets, or to enrich them with additional data points.
– Content Marketing
Content marketing is a facet of marketing we have not yet approached, or worked with a partner to enhance data and audience targeting. However, this is another avenue that we can support via the first-person data collected in our platform in the near future.
– Programmatic Advertising
The first-person data points within our platform may be used to power our next generation ad tracking technology Connect by Cint, which shares unique data points for those exposed and clicking on online content. In addition, those that license access to our data may enrich their ad targeting technologies with our first-person data for much better ad targeting accuracy.
MTS: How should marketers utilize the Cint Platform to better segment their audience?
Cint has a suite of solutions that help advertisers, marketers and publishers optimize their investments and deliver more ROI by enabling richer data and insights to be integrated into campaigns, all connected to a global audience of more than 40 million deeply permission-based, deeply profiled and re-contactable people. Cint’s Connect solution is a programmatic end-to-end ad-effectiveness and audience validation product that allows you to track, measure and survey exposed (matched) panelists from Cint’s open exchange panel marketplace. You get viewability metrics and real-time dashboards allowing you to dynamically optimize campaigns and change them inflight based upon the audience insight being collected. Connect can also be used for bid enrichment and to drive premium pricing in advertising whereas marketers are able to use other solutions like Cint Engage (customer insights, panelization, and monetization) or Cint Access (self-serve or programmatic audience survey solution used by CMOs, brand managers, researchers and many others to get to the ”why” through research).
MTS: How should CMOs leverage customer intelligence and intent data to deliver better omnichannel personalization and customer experiences?
Data today is king. Knowledge is still power, but data is the new currency. Any CMO worth their salt should be ensuring they are leading any data-driven initiatives that connect in any way to the brand or its customers. There is no excuse today, with the wealth of technology and data sources available, that a CMO or marketing department shouldn’t be building data-led marketing strategies with insights at the heart of them. Finding the balance between first, second and third-party data is still a challenge and many companies are still reliant on too much third-party data which is often inferred or probabilistic rather than deterministic. I would advise any CMO to think hard about how they can build out their first data set and enhance or enrich that over time. To do it successfully you need to be close to your customers through the entire customer journey and have trigger-based touchpoints and feedback loops set in place that not only the marketing team, but the entire business can leverage in as near real-time as possible. Then, and only then, will you get the maximum out of personalization and the ability to deliver best in class customer experience.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that businesses fail to address in measuring media trends and ad buying behaviors? How does Cint help overcome these challenges?
Many organizations today don’t have a full data strategy buttoned down. Without having a clear vision around data its difficult for any business to optimize understanding their customers or the general consumer in terms of trends and behavior. Beyond strategy, another challenge is technology. Today it’s imperative businesses understand what technology stack is required for their specific objectives and where technology and machines (AI) can help automate, scale and operationalize efficiently tracking and measurement of trends and behaviors. Of course, this often comes with a hefty price tag and requires a collective commitment from top down for a business to fully embrace to drive results.
At Cint, we try and help our customers and partners address these two challenges through a combination of our technology and our people. Increasingly, companies are placing our capabilities front and center within their data strategies and technology stacks to help power and support the flow of people-based data across their business. Importantly, they are adding our core value proposition of ensuring there is a clear feedback channel to customers and non-customers via surveys and behavioral tracking capabilities to augment with other data sources they might be collecting.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
- Cornerstone – Crowdfunding start-up disrupting the shaving business with a SaaS-based subscription model. It has good branding and great marketing with value-proposition.
- HouseKeep – Exchange model creating an efficient connection between homes and house cleaners.
- Kahoot! – Free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn in any area and for all ages. This is starting to help rethink the shape of education and learning.
- ZipJet – A fantastic app and a slick home collection dry-cleaning service.
- SoundCloud – While the company is burning through millions of euros as it struggles to find a reliable revenue stream, it is reportedly still on the acquisition radar of Silicon Valley giants like Google and Twitter. They have a very interesting product and are a solid alternative to Spotify and Pandora.
- I must also mention one I’ve invested in personally, which is MindSauce a ’Knowledge On Demand’ platform in the UK. It is in its very early days, but it already has an impressive network of ’experts’ connected to the platform.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
- Oracle NetSuite ERP
- LinkedIn Sales Solutions – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise Edition
- LinkedIn Campaign Manager
- Programmatic Mechanics (Managed Services/buying desk for AppNexus)
- SEM Rush
- Google Analytics
MTS: Would you tell us about a standout digital campaign?
One of our core target audiences are individuals responsible for managing the targeting and fieldwork of digital and online market research, which is a niche audience among a niche audience. While we have tested the waters with DoubleClick and App Nexus to target this audience, we have seen the greatest success targeting this audience with ads and online content using LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager. This is because they have the best business-related first-person data sets collected from their users. From our frequent campaigns with LinkedIn, we have converted several thousand followers to the company LinkedIn page, and have converted several marketing qualified leads for our sales team to call upon and covert to users of our technology.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
This is a challenging question. As our platform is built to add automation and efficiencies to what was time consuming managed service and manual work and uses AI to assist with managing several parts of our services, I am partial to enabling machines to assist us with time consuming, labor intensive tasks. On the flip side, I am also aware that there must still be smart people (humans) to help build, improve and repair the machines. In short, there must be a happy medium between how humans interact in business, with the support of AI to assist with adding efficiencies, resulting in better maximizing productivity and profitability.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
- Apps – Amazon, Lyft, BA, Deliveroo, SoundCloud, Sky Sports Football, WhatsApp, Twitter & Strava apps
- Tools / Devices – Apple Watch, iPhone, Amazon Echo
- Platforms – LinkedIn, AirBnB!
MTS: What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I recently read Chaos Monkeys, which was bought for me when I moved to San Francisco to work for the past 12 months (I’m now back in London). Very enlightening read on the inner workings of Silicon Valley. Other than this, most of what I read and consume is online via a selection of preferred apps or subscriptions covering a range of industry and non-industry related content (BBC, Guardian, Digiday, Adexchanger, Business Insider, Twitter newsfeed, etc).
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Whatever you do, have fun – I think that’s a good mantra. Also, take your chance and try and have no regrets. It’s better to look forward and keep an opportunistic mind, otherwise, the good things in life will pass you by.
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to know.
Bernd Hacker, Director Advertising Sales & Audiences EMEA at Sprinklr.com
MTS: Thank you Richard! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Working with customers and partners for over 15 years in consultancy and commercial roles, within the data and insights industry at high growth, fast scale, SaaS technology businesses. A consultative and operational executive leader with a passion in helping clients grow and optimise their businesses through smarter technology adoption and automation. Focused on driving growth through value-selling and a strategic partnership approach to build scalable long-standing relationships. Proven track record of hiring and nurturing the best industry talent to collectively create successful disruptive businesses from start-up environments through to fully operational, profitable entities.
Founded in 1998 in Stockholm, Sweden, Cint is the world’s insights exchange.
Hosting 40 million registered consumers within 80 countries worldwide, Cint maintains an online insight exchange platform that connects publishers and community owners to researchers, agencies, and brands, for the sharing and accessing of consumer insights and data.
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.