Interview with Tom Edwards, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer, Agency, Epsilon

Tom-Edwards-MIS
Tom Edwards

Tell us a little bit about your role at Epsilon?

As the Chief Digital and Innovation Officer for the Agency business unit of Epsilon, I am responsible for brand planning, strategy, research, data design, analytics, experience design, digital and engagement strategy, media and innovation. Within my role, I have a unique opportunity to monitor trends and emerging technology and quickly apply and act on new and compelling uses of data, technology, and hardware, to influence consumer behavior.

What draws you to the MarTech Conference?

I am passionate about the intersection of marketing and technology. The MarTech event series always delivers on this topic, offering compelling, highly relevant content and great speakers.

Which sessions at the Martech Conference would you recommend to and why? 

I recommend the “Gen Z, Computer Vision and the Evolution of Experience session” as I know the speaker. Just kidding! In all seriousness, I am looking forward to hearing Adelyn Zhou of TOPBOTS talk about separating fact from fiction in marketing AI.

What is the one piece of advice you have for B2B marketers in 2018?

Omnichannel is the key. Marketers need to consider how and where their customers want to be reached, considering all channels, from digital to traditional to AI.

How do you see the B2B Marketing landscape evolving, in the years to come?

Brands will continue to seek out marketing partners who really know their customers and are able to drive business growth. I predict more B2C companies will seek out end-to-end marketing solutions, where data, platforms and multichannel approaches come from one provider.

Which sectors is Epsilon looking to target to expand its reach in 2018? 

Epsilon’s focus is on growing our clients’ business through a packaged, prescriptive approach. This means making marketing easy for our clients, through platforms, experts, and end-to-end solutions.

What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

One of my favorite start-ups is Oculus360. I love their innovative approach to machine learning solutions and partnerships.

As a futurist, how do you believe marketing technology and data will come together to deliver better personalization?

In the very near future, we will see a convergence of experiences and interfaces that will redefine our version of reality and how brands market to consumers. The acceleration of intelligent systems, such as virtual assistants, will evolve to anticipate human intent. This, combined with other facets of AI such as computer vision, will add on to existing interfaces of desktop, mobile, and voice to include vision and touch. In a nutshell, our environment will quickly evolve from us controlling technology to technology adapting to our needs seamlessly.

What does Epsilon’s martech stack currently consist of?

As my colleague Wayne Townsend, President, Technology has previously shared with MarTech Series, Epsilon has a full stack of products that manage, identity, loyalty, digital media and email on behalf of clients. We spend the majority of our time integrating these solutions into our client’s infrastructure that may include other heterogeneous components from partners like Adobe and Oracle. There is a lot of promise that comes with marketing technology but if you don’t have integrated systems that are implemented appropriately and can communicate in real-time to activate insights you will never realize the full potential of your marketing technology investments.

Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign?

Epsilon developed and launched an integrated advertising campaign to promote the launch of Cracker Barrel’s seasonal Campfire Meals. The program included the production of an online video series, “The Worst Camper in the World,” and a multi-touch email campaign designed to deliver high engagement with video links, downloadable apps, social content, e-commerce links and directions to the nearest Cracker Barrel restaurant. Epsilon’s digital media arm, Conversant, created animated banner advertisements for a 4-week digital media campaign using proprietary custom audiences and location intelligence data to drive traffic to restaurants. A social campaign was deployed as well, targeting custom Facebook audiences, as well as Cracker Barrel’s Facebook and Instagram followers. The integrated campaign resonated with the target audience, bringing 13,000 new unique website users, 2X higher than average casual dining video ad CTR and a strong click-to-open rate for all deployed emails.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader? 

It all starts with fully understanding the core business objectives. The next step is to identify the ideal data attributes and dimensionalizing that information to be actionable through AI-based systems. The key is understanding the type of data that we will be working with, then aligning the ideal algorithms to drive predictive responses, whether it’s processing large amounts of unstructured data or creating a framework “scene design” for virtual assistants and IoT. My team and I have been leveraging various forms of AI for the past 24 months and have developed working models that drive business results.

One word that best describes how you work.

Exponential.

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

Camtasia and iMovie. I travel quite a bit and record screen sessions all the time. Having the ability to quickly capture, edit and publish makes my life easier. I have used high-end video editing services but sometimes it’s just easier to move quickly with basic software.

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

It may sound counterintuitive but record your presentations. It is incredibly helpful to simply screen capture your recording and listen to the flow, the inflection of your voice and how you are delivering content. This extra step saves me time in the long run.

What are you currently reading? 

I write more than I read, but I am currently reading multiple books, including Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail, The Master Algorithm – How the Quest for the ultimate learning machine will remake our world by Pedro Domingos, The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly and Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.

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

It’s incredibly important to have a mentor AND a sponsor. A mentor who is outside of your industry. A sponsor serves as your advocate through various levels of the organization or industry.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success? 

I put in the time to write and ensure that my perspective on the industry is published on a fairly regular basis. This is above and beyond my normal day job, but nothing has impacted my career in a positive way more than starting a marketing technology/innovation blog 11 years ago.

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

Adelyn Zhou

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

Register for The MarTech Conference with promo code – martechseries10 to avail a 10% discount

Tom, recently named by Advertising Age as a Marketing Technology Trailblazer, is a data-driven, digitally centric marketing executive and professional futurist. He specializes in the integration of emerging technology, digital transformation, thought leadership, innovation and leading strategic teams. He has developed a significant base of experience across multiple industries which has led to strategic interactive and innovation led consulting engagements with hundreds of Fortune 1000 organizations.

Tom leverages experience from previous initiatives to create buzz, drive awareness, develop new business, contribute to the direction of great products and create captivating marketing programs that span early adoption through to mass mindshare. He has a proven track record advising start-up & early stage organizations by providing strategic guidance, direction, insight & access to investor networks. He is experienced as both a formal advisor or board member.

Epsilon Logo
Epsilon is an all-encompassing global marketing innovator. We provide unrivaled data intelligence and customer insights, world-class technology including loyalty, email and CRM platforms and data-driven creative, activation and execution. Epsilon’s digital media arm, Conversant, is a leader in personalized digital advertising and insights through its proprietary technology and trove of consumer marketing data, delivering digital marketing with unprecedented scale, accuracy and reach through personalized media programs and through CJ Affiliate, one of the world’s largest affiliate marketing networks. Together, we bring personalized marketing to consumers across offline and online channels, at moments of interest, that help drive business growth for brands.

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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