Interview with Daniel Kravtsov, CEO, Improvado
Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to co-found a technology company?
I founded four companies back in Russia and had two successful exits, one in the adtech space. I moved out to San Francisco and started a trading desk with a small team. But after hundreds of meetings with digital media agencies and businesses, we discovered that they all had one pain point in common: reporting and monitoring digital ad campaigns was a huge hassle and a manual task. They loved our reporting product that aggregated data for them across all of their marketing campaigns into one centralized dashboard. They told us they’d happily pay for that service alone. So we pivoted into what is now Improvado.io – a tool that helps marketers and ad agencies aggregate their marketing data in one place, in real time.
How does Improvado fit into a modern CMO’s tech stack? What sets Improvado apart from the competition?
A modern CMO should aim to create the most efficient team possible. Right now, there are CMOs running teams where some of their most talented marketers are spending 10-40 hours a week aggregating data and creating reports. These talented people should not be wasting their time spreadsheeting. They should be spending their time analyzing data, optimizing campaigns, and developing new strategies for success. Improvado.io allows those marketers to automate the tedious data aggregation piece, and focus their time where it matters, which leads to healthier businesses, and happier clients for agencies.
Improvado.io is built by marketers, for marketers. There are other data aggregation tools on the market, but we are specifically focused on the marketer’s dilemma. That means, we integrated with 80+ marketing platforms and our integrations run deep. We pull data not just on the campaign level, but on the ad level or keyword level. That way, marketers can see the entire picture of all their marketing campaigns in one centralized dashboard. Also, we have a large team of engineers in Russia that I’ve been working with for 15 years and we’re happy to build out custom integrations for clients. Our clients really appreciate that we offer that type of flexibility.
How do current advertising technologies for B2B companies differ those that were prevalent when you first started?
There are more and more platforms and opportunities for marketers to test out new things. However, this creates a new problem for marketers: how to pull all the data together from all the disparate platforms? This is the problem we’re working to solve.
What is the State of Programmatic Advertising in 2018?
Marketers are becoming more and more data-driven which means they’re learning to spend budget more efficiently and they’re also using their data to create marketing experiences that are more personalized. For example, some of our most sophisticated clients have partnered with both Improvado.io and Liveramp, which allows them to use data to create personalized messaging, and then report and optimize on that data at scale.
How has the North American ad tech industry evolved with the maturity of data aggregators and automation? What market are you focusing on?
Data aggregation and automation is definitely a hot topic. We’re focused on two types of marketers: those who are working in-house at brands and would rather spend their time optimizing than spreadsheeting, and marketing agencies that are managing reporting across a number of clients. Improvado.io helps marketing agencies streamline their processes and save hundreds of hours of time.
How do you build an actionable B2B customer interaction and communication model?
We use Intercom and Salesforce to help our sales team and customer support team stay in contact and support our customers.
How do you measure your Sales Fitness? What tools would recommend to CEOs and CMOs as a Sales Hack in 2018?
We use Improvado.io internally to link our marketing and sales data so we can get a full funnel picture. Meaning, we can see the ROI on each marketing campaign we run by linking our marketing channel spend data and Salesforce revenue data together.
Which startups in martech and adtech industries are you keenly following?
I’m following Safegraph– they are building data sets to accelerate machine learning. It’s not purely intended for MarTech but I think it can be applied to MarTech.
What marketing and sales automation technologies do you use?
Our Head of Marketing, Hailey Friedman, is always testing out the newest martech tools and technologies. She raves about the tool we use for webinars, WebinarJam, and the landing page builder, Instapage.
Tell us about the new standards of tech integrations. How do you steer clear of data chaos?
One of the biggest problems with dealing with many marketing platforms is how to normalize data across Facebook, Adwords, Twitter, your Google analytics, Adservers or CRM platforms. It requires knowledge about your business and about all these platforms and how they track and report on events. In Improvado.io, we solve this challenge by providing raw data and normalized data across all your tools. I don’t want to use all the buzzwords, like machine learning or AI, so i’ll just say it simply: we reduce your manual work by automating and normalizing your data.
Tell us about your best digital transformation campaign. How did you measure the performance among your audience?
One of the best parts of my job is seeing the enormous impact we make for our clients. The clearest way to measure our impact is in the number of hours saved doing manual reporting. For example, one of our clients is an ad agency that used to spend 40 hours every week aggregating data and building reports. You know how much time they spend on it now? Just 4 hours per week. We reduced their manual reporting time by 90%.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric ecosystem as a business leader?
The best way to prepare for an AI-centric world is to have clean and organized data. Machines can’t make educated predictions if they don’t have accurate historical data to work from.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
It’s easy. We believe in working smarter, not harder. We’re helping our clients do this every day, and we follow the same mantra internally. If there’s something we want to automate, we first do the task manually and document the process. Then, we send it to our engineers and build out an automation.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
We rely on Salesforce and ZenProspect to keep our sales org running.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Building a team for the long haul. Startups are tough. Things are inevitably going to go wrong at times. I believe it’s important to have a team that you know is committed. That’s why at Improvado.io, we’re like a family. I know that during tough times, this team will stick it out with me.
What are you currently reading?
I rarely read books these days but I do use Audible to listen to audiobooks and right now I’m listening to 12 Rules of Life by Jordan Peterson. I also like to watch lectures on YouTube and Coursera.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Move fast and break things.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Daniel! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Daniel is a serial entrepreneur. Over the past 15 years, he has built 4 startups, 2 of which were successful exits. He has strong algorithmic and analytical skills– he won an international olympiad in programming. Daniel is passionate about sociology, buzzword big data and UX.
We help marketers & agencies drive ROI by consolidating all their data so they can make informed decisions about their marketing campaigns. Integrations include: Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, Adwords, Outbrain, Taboola, Adroll and many more. Take the pain out of data-driven marketing by aggregating, transforming and visualizing cross-channel marketing data– all in one place, in real time.
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.