Tell us about your role at GumGum and how you got here. What’s the most fascinating aspect of being a part of GumGum?
I joined GumGum three years ago and became Chief Marketing Officer a year later. I am responsible for Brand Management, Integrated Marketing Programs and Corporate Communications. Our company teaches machines how to see things the way that humans see them and we are well positioned to help understand a world that is producing more images and videos than ever before. Industry experts are predicting that there will be 44.4 billion embedded cameras in the work by 2022 — three times the number we have today. This creates numerous challenges and opportunities for marketers.
Given the changing dynamic of marketing technology landscape, where do you see GumGum fitting in a CMO’s stack?
We have a unique value proposition for marketers and have been in this space for 10 years, while others are just now realizing its potential. Our world is more visual than ever, and GumGum is well positioned to understand what these images and videos are about. We did computer vision before computer vision was sexy. Our proprietary technology helps advertisers deliver highly visible campaigns and contextually rich insights to brands and agencies.
We also have a social media business. Of the four billion images uploaded every day on social media, more than 80% lack hashtags or other descriptive text, making it incredibly difficult for marketers to get a true understanding of their brand’s value or the impact of their campaigns. Our computer technology finds logos and other images that are relevant to marketers on social media and generates rich insights.
Finally, we launched GumGum Sports in early 2017. This business uses computer vision to help rights holders, sponsors and agencies measure the real media value of their sponsorship across the full spectrum of channels: social media, broadcast TV and streaming.
What does your ‘Ideal Customer’ Profile look like? Which industries are best suited to benefit from GumGum products?
We currently work with 70% of Fortune 100 companies – from L’Oreal to T-Mobile – but our technology can be used in a wide variety of industries and circumstances — some of which are markets we have yet to officially enter ourselves. Three years ago, we leveraged our computer vision technology to launch GumGum Social and less than two years ago, we launched GumGum Sports. We like to think that we can meet the needs of many marketers: Media Buyers, Brand Marketers, Sponsorship Marketers and many more.
What are the core tenets of your Computer Vision Technology? How does it catapult GumGum against your competitors in Martech?
Our mission is to unlock the value of visual content produced daily across diverse data sets. We teach machines to see in order to solve hard problems. While other companies are just now realizing the importance of computer vision, we have 10 years of experience that we can now apply to new, specific industries and verticals. What this means is that we have proprietary data sets and algorithms that will be hard to replicate for new entrants.
What is the ‘State of Contextual Marketing’ in 2018? How do you compete against the traditional Digital Asset Management and Content Management Platforms?
Contextual marketing is definitely making a comeback. While it has had its ups and downs over the years, advanced technologies — computer vision in particular — are helping dramatically improve both the experience for consumers and the results for brands as it related to contextual advertising. In a post-GDPR world, other types of targeting such as behavioral targeting are falling out of favor. Contextual advertising is powerful and less intrusive.
Which new geographies are you currently targeting?
In 2017, we opened offices in Japan and expanded our offices in Latin America so that is where we are concentrating our efforts currently. A month ago or so, we expanded our footprint in Southern Europe and now have sales offices in France, Belgium, Spain and Italy.
How do you leverage AI/ML and Data Science at GumGum?
Being a computer vision company, data and image science is at our core. We are able to analyze massive amounts of data – at scale, cheaper, faster and more accurately — to further refine our products, improve interactions with our customers and partners and so much more. We have deep expertise in object detection. For example, we can identify the make and model of most vehicles by just looking at an image of them.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
I have recently developed an interest in AI startups that provide creative services. The Grid and Uizard make it easier for designers to save time on repetitive tasks so that they can focus on more creative ones.
What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
We use Salesforce, HubSpot and a variety of supporting tools. We also like to create our own tools when we can’t find something off the shelf. For example, we built our own real-time invoicing tool in Salesforce, which helps manage budgets across a dozen or so territories.
We are finding that marketing attribution remains a challenge, as we have so many disparate data sets. We track every single marketing and sales touchpoints for our top accounts. We have tried business intelligence and attribution tools and the results have been mixed, especially with earned media and content marketing that live outside of our own and operated properties.
Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign at GumGum?
The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is coming, which means a week of boats, booze, business, and beautiful weather. Two years ago, I attended the festival as a delegate for GumGum, which was definitely a worthy investment for the company. But in 2017, we decided to do something different. We decided to take the Cannes vibe and bring it to other cities around the world. We brought yachts to our clients in Los Angeles, Chicago, and London. Our goal was to give people the chance to experience the French spirit without needing to sacrifice their hard-earned time and budgets. This year, we are taking this approach again, on a larger scale. We had 3 yachts and 5 dinners all over the world. We flew in DJs from France to perform in each place, and we imported champagne and rosé for the parties. Sticking with the theme, French chefs prepared the food on deck for attendees.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
The best way to prepare for an AI-centric world is to start by accepting that it is not an “if” but a “when” situation. Too many marketers continue to hang on to the more traditional elements of marketing while ignoring those that could help improve consumer engagement and brand visibility. Ironically, many marketers have already adopted AI without knowing it. If you are using programmatic advertising, chatbot marketing or computer vision, you are using AI.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
If machines can do what humans do cheaper, faster and with more accuracy, where does this leave us in terms of the future of work? I believe that creativity is the most important skills that marketers need to develop. Creativity allows us to turn possibilities offered by technology into tangible things. Don’t we all want to do more interesting work, and leave the chores to the machines?
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Asana – hands-down.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
We introduced our ‘GumTank’ a year or so ago. GumTank is the equivalent of Shark Tank for marketers. We invite vendors to participate and present their ideas every week. And we give them a thumbs up or down before they leave the video conference. This is an effective way to generate external ideas while providing transparency to our vendors. What we like about this also is that anyone from marketing or GumGum can join and help us vet ideas.
What are you currently reading?
I read my news from a variety of US and UK outlets. I have been forcing myself lately to read publications that don’t necessarily align with my personal opinions. It’s not easy but this helps me look at problems from the two sides of the political spectrum. I consume a lot of visual content and spend way too much time on Instagram. I just find visuals a lot more stimulating that text.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To travel the world and learn about new cultures before it becomes harder to do so.
I guess I took this advice seriously. My wife studied or worked in 7 countries in Europe, North America and Asia before we became a family. We moved to Venice Beach three years ago, and we are hoping that we have at last reach our final destination.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I am restless.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
I recently met Simon Berg, CEO of Ceros. Would love to see how he would approach these questions.
Thank you, Ben! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ben enjoys building and breaking things. Currently, he is focused on teaching machines to see in order to solve visual problems across a variety of industries.
GumGum is an artificial intelligence company, with deep expertise in computer vision. Its mission is to unlock the value of images and videos produced everyday across the web, social media and broadcast television. Since 2008, the company has applied its patented capabilities to serve a variety of industries from advertising to professional sports. GumGum is based in Santa Monica, California, with eight additional offices in the US, the UK and Australia. Pioneers in image science, GumGum is backed by leading investors including Morgan Stanley, NEA, Upfront Ventures, First Round Capital and Crosscut Ventures.
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.