MarTech Interview with Ashley Fauset, VP of Marketing at Stardust

MarTech Interview with Ashley Fauset, VP of Marketing at Stardust
MarTech Interview with Ashley Fauset, VP of Marketing at Stardust

“AI and Machine Learning are both growing at a rapid pace within the Entertainment industry.”

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Stardust.

As VP of Marketing at an early-stage startup, I am acutely focused on tactics that have potential to pack the biggest punch. I have a small, tightly-knit, cross-functional, interdisciplinary team that operates like any Growth Team would within a larger tech organization. Our efforts are aimed at impacting user retention – our North Star – from user onboarding and lifecycle strategies, to UI/UX design; re-engagement tactics, and new feature launches. We hypothesize, test, measure, iterate, repeat. Data is at the heart of what we do, so implementing and managing a tech stack that provides my team with tools to accurately monitor behavior and quickly analyze performance – as well as communicate to users across multiple channels – is paramount to our success.

How big is your Mobile community and how do you interact with them about new MarTech ideas?

To date, Stardust has over 99K users. A substantial set of our power users and most loyal advocates are YouTube influencers who each have upwards of 10 million subscribers. Because Stardust is a social platform centered around community and self-expression, we’re deeply committed to understanding how our users interact with and perceive the app. We communicate and encourage user feedback across many channels, from 1:1 conversations via DM or email, user surveys to gain insights to inform our product roadmap, and of course, via social media.

How is Media technology adoption evolving with the rise of Mobile, Social Media and Video platforms?

Of the approximately 5.1 billion people use mobile phones today, 3.2 billion are using mobile for social media, which is reportedly up 10% since last year. People want to be heard, to be seen, to express themselves, and pure play social media platforms offer that ability. Users create and post content to share an unrestricted view of who they are and what they believe in; to discover relevant content, and to make meaningful connections. And companies are increasingly interested in leveraging authentic UGC to support and promote their own initiatives.

Your forecast about the role of AR VR and Gaming Content in Marketing, Sales and Customer Service

What’s so fascinating about these technological developments is that because they’re so new, we can only understand them in a limited capacity. As time goes on, the applications for this tech may be exponential. (One of my favorite examples is the introduction of the accelerometer in the iPhone. At launch, it was solely used for the native Compass app, but shortly thereafter, developers started creating games to specifically harness its functionality.)

A few years back, I worked at a startup that developed AR and VR apps. At the time, our consumer research showed there was a lot of confusion about how each worked and what the real-world application for the technology was. Today, AR seems to be more universally adopted – even toddlers understand how to apply a face filter, or place a colorful rainbow in their living room. AR has great potential to enhance Marketing – allowing users to ”try on” new clothes, makeup, or hairstyles; to reveal hidden content in movie posters or magazine ads; or even seeing how that new couch might look in your living room. VR certainly has its place in gaming, transporting players to other dimensions.

From a Marketing perspective it could be used to take a virtual walk through a hotel room to plan a vacation, or maybe as an open house tour to view a home you can’t see in person. It could be implemented as a way to instruct medical students rather than working on a cadaver, or even for customer service teams to troubleshoot and walk through tech issues step-by-step with their customers.

We hear a lot about the exciting opportunities in Data Science. No one talks about the challenges and risks. What Data Science-related challenges do you deal with at Stardust?

I love this question. I’ve often been asked about “the best tool for X”, and my answer is always the same: ”The tools you use are only as good as the data you provide them.” While many data analytics platforms boast a quick plug-and-play approach to onboarding, it can be a more challenging task than it seems to be. Marketers first need to identify the questions they want answered, then determine key user attributes and events that will inform their decisions. Partnering with engineers and data scientists to identify those key metrics–or even to create new data points – is crucial for a holistic view of user performance. If your app is only pumping a subset of data to an analytics tool, the results will inherently be skewed.

After implementation, it’s imperative that marketers are taught how to effectively use the tool to run queries to extract the insights they need – great UI can make a product seem deceivingly easy to use, but one click on the wrong search criteria risks rendering inaccurate results, which can lead to ill-informed decision making.

How Stardust brings the discussion of movies and shows to life, amplified with the power of mobile, video, and social media?

Stardust was born out of CEO Derek Forbes’ burning desire to discuss every episode of Game of Thrones in deep detail immediately after it aired – a space to analyze character arcs and speculate on fan theories among a community of viewers that were as obsessed with the show as he was. Observing a lack of social platforms dedicated to providing such an experience, he designed a niche social platform specifically for movie and TV-lovers.

Stardust place to connect with like-minded fans to create and share video reactions to their favorite movies and TV episodes. After launching an MVP with video reactions as its core functionality, Stardust was redesigned with a full suite of features to fully support its rapidly-growing community, including text discussion capabilities, recommendations, interactive daily polls, and unique editorial content, highlighting entertainment news, op-eds, fan predictions, box-office performance and more.

Tell us about the various tech-based developments expanding into the entertainment industry?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are both growing at a rapid pace within the entertainment industry. Websites, mobile apps, and streaming services alike are ingesting information around users’ preferences, usage habits, likes and dislikes. Nowadays, users expect a certain level of Personalization – beyond marketers simply regurgitating their own name back to them in an email campaign. Targeted marketing efforts are definitely becoming more sophisticated – users can browse a personalized list of recommended TV shows on their streaming services, then be served an advertisement while watching a recommended show that was specifically matched to that user by algorithms based on their browsing history.

Tell us more about the evolution and trends in the entertainment/social media spaces and what to expect going into the new year?

Content is still king, and how viewers consume said content remains at the forefront of the industry. Anyone following the so-called “streaming wars” knows that while Netflix has long been the dominant player in this space, Disney’s upcoming launch of Disney+ is something to pay attention to. Up and coming streaming platforms are soon emerging that offer a slightly different take on media consumption. Quibi, for example, will serve “quick bites” to viewers who are inclined to watch shorter, more consumable entertainment more sporadically throughout the day – while riding the train, during their lunch break, etc and already has announced it has some major actors and directors already attached to its projects.

Which economic regions are you currently focusing on and why?

While Stardust is available in many countries around the world, we’re highly focused on growing our US market. Stardust is a community for movie and TV fans, and with approximately 1.3 billion movie tickets sold in the US last year, (and with 2019 looking to be on track to outpace that figure), it’s safe to say that Americans love going to the movies. Plus, our Los Angeles HQ gives us access to industry events and movie premieres, as well as the ability to leverage studio and network relationships right here in our own backyard.

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

Highly creative and clever marketing expert with serious start-up savvy. Focus on product growth marketing, brand strategy, ecommerce, and data-driven lifecycle marketing.

Specialties include: Growth/Product Marketing, Brand Strategy, Digital Marketing, Email and Lifecycle Marketing. Editorial Content Production, Copywriting/Copyediting, Blogging, Social Media, PR. Retail/Ecommerce Merchandising, Channel Marketing, Packaging, Physical and Digital Product Development, Product Licensing, Experiential Marketing, Photo and Video Production, Strategic Partnerships.

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Stardust is the leading social app that brings movie & TV fans together. Rate and review the latest movies, trailers, and TV episodes; record & share your own reactions. Track your favorites and discover what to watch next. Find entertainment news, original editorial content, even share your opinion with daily polls. Join the Stardust community, and find the fans that are as obsessed as you.

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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