Interview with Steve Ellis, Founder and CEO, WHOSAY
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? (What inspired you to start an Influence Marketing technology innovation company?)
I originally started WHOSAY 7 years ago as a way to create a marketplace for influential people and their content, all around the growth of social media use. There has always been a large amount of interest in celebrity, their images, and stories, and indirectly brands and fans had created a $1B+ media business through this in media companies like People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight.
The power of celebrity and interest in their content via social media has never been stronger but through many twists and turns, that business has now evolved into influencer marketing – not just a simple media business. WHOSAY strives to simplify the process for brands and agencies, by offering end-to-end services including everything from finding the right influencer, to content creation and distribution.
MTS: Given the changing dynamic of content engagement with customers online, how do you see the automation and analytics market evolving by 2020?
There will be an increase in automation, but at the same time, that automation will lead to poorer ad performance. So in turn, the analytics and measurement will have to evolve to measure true performance. We are beginning to see this shift in the open demands big brands are making of social platforms around viewability and performance. Ultimately measurement will be able to link directly ad performance to sales – though we are a few years away from closing that last gap.
MTS: How should influencer content marketplaces extend the benefits of audience attention and conversion analytics to B2B customers?
In today’s mobile-first world, every single connection and transaction is one-to-one – whether you’re a dating service, selling to consumers, or selling to businesses. You need to take control of how people feel about you and your services via your communication and marketing. Influencer content will continue to play an important role in this, by helping to cut through the clutter on a small screen and by making better ads to ensure people understand and like your offering.
MTS: How can CMOs leverage video platforms as a scalable targeting and retargeting content monetization strategy for the B2B market?
It’s essential to have a long-term strategy where you take your video content and ads and target the kinds of customers your business is trying to reach today. Video allows you to retain and monitor which of those customers interact with your content the deepest, and then over time you will be able to turn them into paying customers by retargeting the most engaged with offers and calls to action. Video content is the trojan horse of digital marketing.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make their predictive decisions work effectively?
The industry is still a few years away from being able to track marketing efforts to the last inch: purchase. But this is coming in the form of location tracking and couponing. CMOs will be very happy when they can confidently say their marketing spend worked.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Slice – online pizza discovery and delivery
Gladly – customer service reinvented
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We consider communication with our clients critical to our marketing efforts, so to that end, we built tools using a variety of vendors in the data and data visualization space that help track campaign performance and show those analytics to our clients in real time.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign?
All of our campaigns are stand-out and are special! But recently we made a beautiful video for Volvo that I must say is one of our standout creative executions and is performing extremely well.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
If I hear AI mentioned again when it comes to influencer marketing, I’m going to punch myself in the face! There is a level to which technology can take you, but the ultimate optimization is up to humans. We’ve allowed tech to build all the targeting anyone will ever need and that’s great but we’ve forgotten that it’s now up to human creativity to format the experience, and then continue to re-evaluate and optimize marketing campaigns as they roll out. If you think you can have an idea based on data and then sit back and watch it do great you will be sorely disappointed – you have to react to what actually happens
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Old School Software: Excel is still the most useful and productive piece of business software ever.
Newer Software: Whatsapp makes communication easier than ever for me and Salesforce makes sales monitoring far less stressful.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Hire excellent people.
MTS: What are you currently reading?
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Following my wife’s suggestion to marry her.
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Larry Ellison. He’s only person in tech that really tells the truth when he’s asked questions because he really doesn’t care what people think. My kind of guy.
MTS: Thank you Steve! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry. Strong entrepreneurship professional skilled in Digital Strategy, Advertising, E-commerce, Entrepreneurship, and Business Development.
WHOSAY powers marketing campaigns for brands across all verticals, utilizes every level of celebrity and influencer, and delivers measurably superior results to other mobile and social advertising. In more than 300 campaigns for 100 different brands, WHOSAY has delivered more than 3 billion impressions, 600 million video views and 700 million engagements.
Based in New York City, WHOSAY was founded in 2010 and is built from the best of entertainment, technology and advertising including Amazon, CAA, Comcast Ventures, Greylock Partners, High Peaks Ventures and Tencent.
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.