MarTech Interview with Christophe Collet, Chief Executive Officer, S4M

MarTech Interview with Christophe Collet, Chief Executive Officer, S4M
Christophe Collet, Chief Executive Officer, S4M

“If you want to be a real contender in the fast-growing MarTech industry, you must find a way to make your company, and all of the people who make it, evolve at the same time as the market and grow with it.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to create S4M?

I started my career in the mobile industry in 2004, at a time when the word “smartphone” didn’t even exist. After a few years, I co-founded the Mobile Marketing agency, Adenyo, which was later acquired by Motricity for $100 million. Throughout my career, I firmly believed in the potential of mobile and the decisive part it could play in bringing brands and consumers closer from the very start. As the first real personal media (as opposed to the TV or tablets, which are often shared by people), the mobile has become an extension of the consumers, the meeting point between their actual life, their media consumption and their consumption, period.

Which is why I was very frustrated to see that advertisers were still showing some skepticism towards mobile screens and that advertising investments were lagging behind. So, I thought why not come up with a technology that could reassure advertisers and show them that they could get the best possible value for money for every Euro spent on a mobile screen ad? We needed something new, something that took into account the new formats, the new environments while also being very transparent for advertisers. This is how S4M came to be in late 2011.

From the time you started at S4M, how much has the market for Mobile Advertising and Media Buying evolved?

Advertisers are now fully aware that mobile phones are a way of increasing their standing and their sales. And an ever-growing number of them is turning towards digital ads to sell their products. This means that we are focusing more and more on the client side of things: how much profit are they making from an ad and what benefits are they getting from their ad spend? Today, we are much more focused on results, and even more so on quantifiable results. In order to remain competitive, we must anticipate the clients’ needs and offer them an ROI that exceeds expectations and a proven incremental turnover all the while remaining transparent. On top of that, the number of decision-makers concerned with ad fraud and discrepancy is growing. So, we have to offer them an airtight guarantee that they are paying for real traffic.

Tell us the benefit of your recent renewal of MRC accreditation. How do you plan to extend the benefits of this development to your customers?

S4M recently renewed its Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for the third year running. The MRC is a non-profit industry association established in 1963 in the US, and its goal is to ensure that measurement services are valid, reliable and effective. This accreditation by a trusted third party provides advertisers and media agencies who use the FUSIO by S4M platform with assurances that they are only buying ad metrics, which comply with the MRC’s strict standards, as well as with measurement guidelines put forth by the MRC in collaboration with both the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association). This accreditation helped us cement our position in the advertising market when we started out and, to this day, S4M remains the only vendor accredited by the MRC for mobile post-click metrics.

As a B2B MarTech CEO, how would you identify the biggest advantages and challenges in making Mobile Marketing technology a staple in a modern CMO’s stack? What role does drive-to-store platform play in making these strategies sustainable?

With FUSIO, our drive-to-store platform, we want CMOs’ stack to be seen as a source of income rather than a source of expenditure. Advertising is often seen as an important source of expenditure because proving advertising effectiveness and its impact on revenue has always been a difficult task. But that is not true for online retailers, who can track every euro spent and measure their ROI thanks to digital marketing solutions.

At S4M, we have merged these two approaches to create an effective solution for marketers. Today, the added value we bring CMOs is the possibility to buy business outcomes instead of media KPIs by using a determinist measurement of the impact of their ad-spend in store, both in real life and in real time. And we firmly believe that quantifying the ROI of an online marketing strategy will transform the CMO role in organizations. We like to say that with S4M, CMO + CFO = ❤️.

Tell us more about your CPIV buying model.

A year ago, S4M launched a new buying model called Cost Per Incremental Visit (CPIV). With the CPIV, marketers only pay for additional visits into stores generated by online campaign impressions. Brands can be sure that their drive-to-store results exclude organic visitors and are only measuring visits generated directly as a result of digital campaigns. Moreover, this buying model is tailored for each advertiser based on their industry, campaign period, and existing brand awareness.

Tell us more about your technology integration with third-party measurers.

S4M provides impartial measurements and will never be both judge and jury on campaign success metrics. Reliable offline attribution should not come from the same actor that delivered the online campaign. Offline store visits from FUSIO by S4M’s online campaigns are measured in real-time by independent third-party actors integrated directly into the platform. These impartial and live measurements are leveraged by S4M’s AI algorithms to optimize online campaign parameters such as targeting zones, creative formats, publisher lists and device types. Optimization during the campaign’s lifetime can ensure the highest returns on ad spend and boost traffic for conversions in stores. For retailers, CPIV is the new KPI of digital marketing, which is why we want to bring as much transparency as possible to advertisers.

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth and the lessons learned through the period of massive shift and transition in 2018.

First and foremost, S4M is about people. And if you want to be a real contender in the fast-growing MarTech industry, you must find a way to make your company, and all of the people who make it, evolve at the same time as the market and grow with it. For companies to succeed in periods of massive shifts, they need to give everyone the opportunity to speak out and be involved.

How do you mentor your Product Marketing team at S4M?

Product Marketing is at our core. Our organization is set up around product. Location is our territory, Drive-to-store is our expertise. Our ambition is to deliver the best SaaS drive-to-store technology to CMOs. Easy to use, reliable and effective. Our Product Marketing focuses on helping our clients buy business outcomes rather than media KPIs. Why buy impressions when you can buy a highly qualified prospect?

What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?

Being inspired, being a full part of our technology community, of our market, is key for us. S4M is fully involved with industry organizations like the MMA, the IAB and more. We are also very interested in exchanging with centers of excellence in research such as universities or the IAB Tech Lab.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Mobile Advertising for 2019?

Retailers are now shifting their offline marketing budget to online measurable solutions to replace traditional marketing and especially leaflets, whose budgets are deceptively massive. At S4M, we don’t consider mobile as a media but as a device. A device on which you can read news, but also watch TV, listen to the radio etc., so we can help marketers maximize their ad spend by giving them a true ROI.

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

All the measurers in the market. We need to connect with them to allow our clients to judge our performance based on the partner they trust the most.

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

We have a specific, dedicated AI team called Athena here at S4M. We also work in close collaboration with universities and research centers because it is ultimately, the outstanding quality of our algorithms that will give our clients the best performance possible. Again, it’s a question of people. In France, we have the chance to have high-level AI engineers and that is where most of our R&D team is based. But we recently opened an R&D branch in North America to attract the best talent worldwide.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

It’s important that everyone is involved and feels that S4M’s product is their own product. We regularly hold internal workshops with all services (Sales, Finance, Tech…) to think about our product and how it can be improved and further developed. It’s always good to have many ideas and point of views that can reflect the consumer’s needs.

One word that best describes how you work.

I’m a big fan of rugby and a former rugby player so, for me, passion and dedication are paramount. I see my company as a big team where everyone has a place to fill and a role to play. If we want to win and take the lead, we all need to believe in it, to be accountable to the others, we must all be co-responsible for achieving this target and fight for it. It’s just a question of work, of hard work, in trying to be the best in whatever we do.

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

My emails… and I read all of them.

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

Concentrating on what is impactful and prioritizing tasks. Workdays are always too short, and you can’t always do everything in one day. So, you have to concentrate on what’s most impactful and important first. At the company level, we are trying to follow this approach by setting an OKR model (Objective Key Results) to ensure that everyone is aligned with the same vision and objectives.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading “L’affolement du monde” by Thomas Gomart, an essay about geopolitics.

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

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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

I know now that surrounding yourself with the right people is key. I would advise everyone to hire people who are better than them at what they do and to give them their trust. I love this quote from Steve Jobs about that: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

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

As a pioneer in the mobile ecosystem, Christophe Collet is a digital and mobile entrepreneur who began his career in this market in 2004. He co-founded Adenyo, a mobile marketing agency based in France and in Canada and sold to Motricity in 2011. Later on the same year, he founded S4M in Paris. The company quickly became a key mobile partner for many of the most prominent media agencies in the French market. Today, S4M continues to expand worldwide with offices in London, New York, Miami and Singapore.

S4M Logo

Shopper Marketing Made Easy – is the first and only advertising technology that connects brands to consumers by bridging the gap between digital advertising and the real-world. S4M created a unified technology for marketers to manage, measure, and optimize incremental visits in real-time to online and physical stores. S4M is committed to transparency and full autonomy for its clients from online impressions until conversions and relies on data obtained only with the user’s explicit consent.

Founded in 2011 by mobile marketing pioneers, S4M has more than 160 employees and services more than 600 advertisers worldwide. The company has ten offices in the US, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

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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