Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start IZEA?
I am currently the Founder, Chairman and CEO of IZEA, which I started in 2006. I have always been in the marketing space and had an interest in technology. I started my first agency when I was 19 years old. After selling that agency I started an interactive agency in 1999, which focused on high-end websites and applications.
While running that agency, I recognized that there was an opportunity to use MySpace, message boards and some of the very first blogs to help drive traffic to the sites we were launching for clients. We would provide people with gift cards and free products in exchange for reviews or promotions.
It was effective but very labor-intensive and difficult to manage, so I developed PayPerPost.com in 2006. PayPerPost.com gave birth to the modern Influencer Marketing industry and was the very first marketplace to openly pay bloggers to create content for brands. PayPerPost later became IZEA as we expanded to various social media platforms.
How do you see SaaS for Influencer Marketing landscape evolving with better automation and analytics platforms?
I believe that SaaS is the future of Influencer Marketing. As programs become increasingly complex and the landscape continues to evolve, marketers need better tools for the various aspects of campaign design, execution and measurement. There is real money being spent on Influencer Marketing, but there is also real money being wasted at the same time – both in spend and operational inefficiencies at brands and agencies. While SaaS platforms help marketers achieve better results, the labor savings alone often justify the licensing fees of platforms for brands that are investing in Influencer Marketing on an ongoing basis.
How much have Marketing Operations changed since you first started in the industry? How do you leverage these tools yourself at IZEA?
Marketing operations are all about efficiency. Whether that is optimizing a campaign or getting the best creative possible for the lowest possible price. That is why technology plays such an important role in modern marketing, it enables us all to do things more efficiently and to measure our efficiency on an ongoing basis. At IZEA, we “eat our own dog food” whenever possible. For example, we use our technology and network of creators to write almost all of the content that you read on the IZEA blog.
Tell us more about the “Creator Economy.” What are the main components of this economy in MarTech?
I believe that we are going to continue to see disruption in both media and in the agency world. There is ongoing fragmentation of content production, consumption and distribution and I don’t believe that slows down anytime soon. The rise of platforms that allow marketers to hire influencers and other freelance creators has upended longstanding industries, and these individual creators are now producing billions of dollars or advertising and content.
Why marketing teams should not run publisher teams?
If you are a marketing team you better also be a publisher team. Modern brands need to think about themselves as publishers in their own right, creating a constant stream of content for their customers and prospects.
What are the most important trends in advanced ad tracking analytics for Influencer Marketing that you could recall from the last 12 months? How do you think IZEA could improve these analytic standards for customers?
The most important trend I am seeing is that brands are starting to recognize that they need to track Influencer Marketing initiatives alongside their other marketing efforts. We have seen an uptick of brands using tracking URLs that tie back into enterprise analytics platforms, on top of the analytics and measurement we provide natively in our own platform. We have also made the IZEAx analytics API available in order to allow brands to get a more holistic view of the consumer journey and enrich their insights beyond the click.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does IZEA add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?
We put a lot of emphasis on providing value through education content, whether through our blog, white papers or the in-depth industry analysis. We get a significant amount of inbound from the content we publish every day.
How often do you measure the performance of your Marketing Analytics and Sales Reporting?
We look at performance through a variety of different lenses through the various KPIs available on the platforms we use. From a marketing perspective, the number one metric we measure is qualified sales pipeline generation. From a sales perspective, we look at bookings and close ratios.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Social Media Intelligence technologies for 2018-2020?
I believe we are going to see continued emphasis on tracking and analysis, but that the desire to track everything may also be met with some data and privacy concerns. I don’t think the Cambridge Analytica story is fully written and we may still see some additional fallout.
What startups in the Marketing and Sales technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
Right now, I am mostly focused on our competitive landscape. I am very interested in industry consolidation and looking for interesting pieces of the puzzle.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
From chatbots to our proprietary influencer-scoring tools, we are using various AI technologies throughout the organization to improve efficiency and effectiveness for our clients and ourselves. I have long beaten a drum for the use of “robots” to automate any task we are able to so we can have our team members focus on the things that provide the most value to the organization.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
The only way to get people to fully adopt technology is to make the benefits of the technology glaringly obvious.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Get up before the business world wakes up.
What are you currently reading?
Research reports… and way too many of them.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When you are green you grow, when you are ripe you rot.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
The secret to my success is unending commitment and perseverance. It is hard to lose when you don’t quit.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Ted! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ted Murphy is a serial entrepreneur who has founded six companies since 1994. Today he is Founder, CEO and Chairman of IZEA. Murphy has been called the father of paid blogging and is largely credited for creating the social sponsorship industry. In 2006 Murphy launched PayPerPost.com, the first online marketplace that paid bloggers to create content on behalf of brands. Ted’s vision for democratizing content and influencer compensation is now a reality in most marketing strategies, from top brands and agencies to small businesses.
Murphy has bootstrapped companies off credit cards, been VC backed and most recently brought IZEA public. His disruptive approach and leadership have enabled him to raise over $36 million in equity for his entrepreneurial endeavors in both public and private markets. Murphy’s backers have included top tier VCs Draper Fischer Jurvetson and Village Ventures as well as billionaires John Poppajohn and Dr. Phillip Frost.
IZEA operates IZEAx, the premier technology platform that connects marketers with influential creators to help automate influencer marketing and custom content development. Creators in our marketplace range from leading bloggers and social media personalities, to A-list celebrities and professional journalists.
Creators are compensated for developing and distributing text, videos, photos and status updates through social media. Marketers receive influential content and engaging, shareable stories that drive awareness.
IZEA is a publicly-traded company headquartered in Winter Park, Florida with additional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Toronto.
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.