MarTech Interview with Brendan Smith, CEO and Co-Founder, Motive

Brendan Smith, CEO & Co-Founder, Motive

“AI will continue to alter mobile advertising in a way that makes some of the challenges of performance-based marketing a thing of the past.”

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Tell us about your role and journey in Advertising Technology. What inspired you to start Motive Interactive?

I founded Motive Interactive (Motive) 15 years ago to provide cutting-edge digital marketing solutions. I was inspired to start Motive because I felt quality and a focus on service was missing from the AdTech space. In the beginning, the industry was flooded with people that had a “get rich quick at any cost mindset,” which created a serious quality and fraud problem. Since the beginning, our focus has been to provide top-notch service and a fraud-free ad environment for our advertisers. Motive has seen multiple iterations since its inception, to become what it is today: A managed DSP that provides programmatic media buying services to app marketers around the globe.

What is Motive and how does it fit into a modern CMO’s AdTech stack?

Motive is a global app marketing company that provides customized solutions that help advertisers engage users who will take meaningful actions in their app, whether that be subscribing to a service, making a purchase or taking the first ride. For a modern CMO, we provide an all-inclusive solution for their mobile advertising needs, whether that be performance campaigns driving installs at scale or branding campaigns to raise awareness.

How is Motive DSP different from other AdTech platforms? How do you keep up with the highly disruptive AdTech industry?

Motive leverages smart bidding technology that is unlike others in the industry.  We are so confident that it is proprietary that we have patented it to protect our intellectual property.

As the DSP market continues to consolidate, the DSP with the best technology will rise to the top. We have invested in our own proprietary programmatic technology as well as a data science team that is building patent-pending products that influence performance and quality in the mobile marketing space.

We take a consultative approach in contrast to other self-serve options in the market. Our belief is that app marketers and agencies are looking for a trusted partner to help them navigate the complex mobile programmatic landscape rather than doing it themselves.

We’re constantly evolving to keep up with the ever-changing AdTech landscape. We have invested in an in-house Playable Design Studio to give advertisers the ability to leverage playable ads for both gaming and non-gaming clients. This interactive and playful ad format drives upwards of a 7x higher CTR and 2x higher retention rate compared to standard video ads.

According to you, which businesses are fastest to adopt Mobile Marketing platforms for personalized Customer Experience?

Historically, game app developers and marketers have been the first to adopt mobile marketing innovations such as playable ad formats and dynamic creatives. But more and more we’re seeing non-gaming advertisers looking to leverage innovative mobile technologies, such as Retail, QSR (quick service restaurant) and FinTech app developers.  We are also seeing brand marketers apply more of a performance lens to their media buying as industry technology allows for hundreds of events to be tracked. Mobile marketers are expecting more and want partners that are result-driven.

What are the technical challenges that you face in the adoption and deployment of mobile-centric platforms?

Challenges can arise because of the lack of standardization in the industry and the need to adopt the specific third-party tools used by different clients such as creative ad servers. We confront these challenges by being agile and maintaining the ability to build out custom solutions to enable any advertiser to use our service. There are industry-wide problems such as lack of standardization with serving playable ads, which affect all the players like Motive as a whole.

Which markets and geographies are you currently catering to?

We serve app marketers in all verticals around the globe.

Tell us about the new-age integrations that Motive offers with other Marketing Technology platforms such as contacts, contracts, email and customer service.

We have integrations with players such as Neustar, Blue Kai and LiveRamp to execute our programmatic offering and work effectively with our clients.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation Tools and Technologies do you use in your current roles?  

Looker is a technology we use to visualize our processes and better optimize results for our clients. We use Sales Enablement tools including and Mighty Signal to enhance our internal sales process, and ClearSlide to provide needed visuals around our offerings. We are always exploring innovative tools that will help our team and lead to better results for our clients.

 What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology on Mobile Marketing businesses for 2019-2020?

I think going forward we are going to see more marketers leverage AI in impactful ways that differentiate their brand or service. A recent example is the Burger King Express ‘Burn the Ad’ campaign in Brazil where consumers were incentivized to use the Burger King app to scan competitors’ ads and burn them away, revealing a coupon for a free Whopper. I think we are going to continue to see more advertisers use these types of unique and inventive uses of technology that take mobile advertising to the next level.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

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

I embrace it! I think one of the prevalent challenges right now is dealing with people’s perception that AI will eliminate jobs, when, in fact, it should be something that will create more opportunities. AI will continue to alter mobile advertising in a way that makes some of the challenges of performance-based marketing a thing of the past. At Motive, we use Machine Learning to offer a more effective solution to predict outcomes and automate processes related to arbitrage, bidding, creative testing and automation. This helps us provide a more effective solution to our clients and it gives our employees the opportunity to focus on creative campaign management and critical thinking rather than mundane and tactical tasks.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I use it myself.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

I use 15Five’s continuous performance management software to manage my direct reports, keep up-to-date on the pulse of the entire organization and maintain positive workplace culture. I also can’t live without Surfline, Google Drive, GuitarTuna, Audible, and Dropbox.

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

I’m very serious about the 4Ds of Time Management: Delete, Delegate, Defer, Do.

What are you currently reading?

Every morning I read a page of “The Daily Stoic.” Every evening I read positive affirmations, promises or goals. I have young children so “Green Eggs and Ham” is a household favorite. I will pretty much read any book that can improve me mentally, physically, or help me grow my business. I just finished “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.

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

The best advice I have ever received was also probably the worst advice you could hear as a young entrepreneur:  “Don’t start a business.”

When I was starting Motive Interactive, I had so many people tell me not to start a business; to do something safe and more predictable. That bit of advice and the negativity that surrounded it empowered me to do the opposite with vigor, grit and confidence. That was 15 years ago.

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

I have an uncanny attention to detail, a crazy work ethic and I’m creative in how I approach everything I do.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:  

Kim Perell, Chief Executive Officer of Amobee.

Thank you, Brendan! Hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Brendan is CEO and Co-Founder at Motive Interactive — a global mobile ad platform that provides quality user acquisition for top brands. He also serves as Advisor to Run2Play — gaming fitness by building a platform for mobile, augmented reality, and virtual reality fitness technologies.

motiveinteractive logoMotive Interactive is a global mobile ad platform that provides quality user acquisition for top brands in some of the most competitive verticals. Motive supports its growing client base with the technical innovation of a large-scale performance engine that uses machine learning algorithms to optimize, predict and serve high-quality traffic in mobile advertising.

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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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