MarTech Interview with Bruce Buchanan, CEO at Rokt

MarTech Interview with Bruce Buchanan, CEO at Rokt

“Using AI and Machine Learning to optimize your digital presence is useless without having a strong brand for customers to connect with. “

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You have a long track-record of successfully working in and managing diverse business teams. How did you arrive at Rokt and what attracted you to the Transaction marketing ecosystem?

I spent 10 years building Jetstar (until 2012), APAC’s leading low-cost airline where I led a team of 7000+, and managed revenue in excess of $3 billion. At Jetstar, we were continually looking to improve our customer experience in order to stay ahead of our competitors and to increase revenue. We identified that the checkout experience was a critical moment where we could step ahead of the competition – from testing and experiments we could see the potential to double a company’s profitability. When I left Jetstar I Co-founded Rokt in 2012 with this was our core focus: making e-commerce smarter, faster and better.

How much has the Transaction Marketing industry evolved since you first started? What does the subscription economy look like to you today?

At Rokt we created the category of Transaction Marketing and we have been the leaders in defining what it means to make e-commerce, smarter, better and faster for every customer in every transaction moment.

As our lives have become increasingly busy and frenetic, the power of the subscription economy allows us to have our favorite products and services self-manage on our behalf – it’s easy to see why this has been an appealing concept and enabling fast growth for so many. As innovators, D2C companies have also been a  great example of how to optimize the use of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to intelligently acquire customers and optimize experiences based on their choices.

Which Marketing, Sales and Communication tools and technologies do you use at Rokt?

We’re big fans of people and culture platform CultureAmp. We have an extremely transparent culture here at Rokt. Our Rokt’stars (employees) are the secret to our success and their feedback is crucial to how we drive forward our business. From a general business standpoint, our team use the Google Suite, many of the Atlassian products including Jira and Confluence, HubSpot and of course the mighty Tableau.

Could you tell us about the unique features of your services and technologies? How does it tie in Customer data to a unified Transaction Analytics platform for brands and enterprise companies?

Real-time data and decisioning is core to what we do – we deliver the next best action for consumers in each transaction moment. Brands have become well versed in collecting customer data, but often aren’t sure how to best optimize the use of this information for the consumer’s benefit as well as their own. Our proprietary technology enables e-commerce businesses to intelligently manage their various Marketing objectives, utilizing Machine Learning to make their e-commerce smarter, faster and better – in real-time –  for both the partner and their customer. This is all achieved in a native user experience within the e-commerce environment.

Rokt’s partners have a wealth of contextual and demographic insights they can leverage throughout their customer’s purchase. AI and ML utilizes these multiple data points and the associated insights to determine the most relevant offer and message to present to each individual customer in each transaction moment.

Could you tell us about the Transaction Moment? Who are you targeting in the industry with these products?

Rokt identified an otherwise unseen opportunity to unlock more value in e-commerce for both brands and their customers. When people are buying online they increasingly expect personalized and relevant experiences. They are happy and engaged – we call this the Transaction Moment. Rokt’s proprietary technology works with our partners to surface key insights throughout this moment that are used to determine which offer is most relevant in that moment for that customer. This ability to pinpoint key moments and messages results in better customer experience, engagement and additional revenue. Rokt works with brands across various industries including Travel, Ticketing, Retail, Finance, B2C, and B2B.

Any comments on Amazon’s $70 Billion Q3 Sales report – what do you have to say about the transformations around Connected Customer experience? What were your financial highlights of the quarter?

Congratulations to Amazon! Their focus on customer experience in the center of everything is what powers such an incredible business. Amazon invested heavily in bringing one-day shipping to its Prime customers and while they might not have met their quarterly goals, the results speak for themselves – when your customers have a better connection and access to your brand, they spend more. Rokt believes in putting the customer first in all of our work too – this year we established a dedicated Customer Experience and Research team who’s primary objective is to understand exactly what the customer wants and needs in the Transaction Moment.

In terms of financial highlights, this quarter will be our largest on record for many reasons! We acquired B2B marketplace OfferLogic opening a new vertical for us and adding major clients Google, Yelp, Vistaprint and Staples, secured US$48 million in our latest Series C funding round and are closing out the year with over $100 million in revenue. We have also been profitable since 2016 and will see our highest profit in 2019.

What is the future of Marketing Technology as we head into 2020?

2020 will see Marketing Technology providers leverage previously untapped channels to create a more connected experience for their clients with their customers. At Rokt we’ve already begun doing this with our Rokt Calendar solution – a powerful channel that gives brands the ability to sync up their Marketing with their customer’s daily life. The challenge in 2020 for marketers is not going to be the channel, but managing many channels amongst a modern messaging platform. The Marketing Technology providers that recognize not only opportunity, but also the challenge, will be the most impactful.

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

It’s important in an AI-centric world to not lose sight of the importance of brand. Many business leaders and marketers in competitive industries focus on performance marketing and neglect the difference a strong brand can make. Using AI and Machine Learning to optimize your digital presence is useless without having a strong brand for customers to connect with. The two need to work in tandem in order to see a significant impact on incremental Marketing efforts.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

We have a very transparent culture here at Rokt. From day one, every employee is brought in to the vision and the mission. I think this is really important in inspiring people full stop – if they understand why they are doing what they are being asked to do they feel more connected to their work.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

In my personal life, iMessage on my iphone. I use it to stay connected to our children, family and friends.

In my professional life, Google suite! With 7 global offices it’s important to have collaborative work tools. Google chat allows us to communicate easily, and the other products allow us to work together on documents and spreadsheets meaning we can iterate the work in real time across teams and continents.

Which superhero character/movie do you most profoundly relate to:

I do own a Batman costume as it is my son’s favorite superhero – I’d like to think I’m as cool as he is (my son thinks I am at least!) 😉

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

I wear a Rokt t-shirt to work everyday which means I don’t have to think about what to wear!

What are you currently reading?

“Why we sleep” by Matthew Walker.

“The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership” by Bill Walsh, Craig Walsh, and Steve Jamison.

I love to read – I wish I could do it more. I have started listening to Audible when I’m driving to Boston (we’ve recently opened an office there). I also enjoy podcasts, especially Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway’s Pivot.

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

Always ask questions, my mum taught me that and it’s held me in great stead my whole life.

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

Problem solve. I look at every problem as an opportunity for growth and discovery. Much of our technology is born out of clients coming to us saying ‘hey we’ve got this problem we need help solving’, and us creating a new feature, or even a whole new product to do this.

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

Bill Magnuson – Braze
Tom Cowan – TDM Growth Partners
Adam Jay – Expedia Group
Frank Gutierrez – Live Nation

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

Bruce Buchanan is the Co-Founder, CEO and Chairperson of Rokt.

Prior to Rokt, Bruce held the role of Group CEO, Jetstar. Jetstar is the leading low fares airline in Asia with international and domestic operations in 16 countries across Asia-Pacific. During his time at Jetstar, Bruce was responsible for growing the team to more than 7000+, with revenue in excess of $3 billion. Bruce was instrumental in Jetstar’s Australian and global success, writing the original business case through to designing the world’s first long-haul low cost model, Jetstar international. He was also the chief architect of Jetstar’s APAC pan-Asian strategy, building a successful business across Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

rokt logo

Rokt is the global leader in e-commerce marketing technology. When customers are buying online, they increasingly expect more personalized and relevant experiences. We unlock the hidden potential in every single Transaction Moment.

Founded in Sydney, Rokt now operates in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, The Netherlands, and Japan.

[mnky_heading title=”MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

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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