MarTech Interview with Declan Kennedy, CEO, StitcherAds

Declan Kennedy, CEO, StitcherAds

“If you’re not thinking about how to use AI to solve for core customer needs, you are losing your competitiveness.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What encouraged you to create StitcherAds?

I’ve been in tech since 2008. Formerly, I was an investment banker, and my goal back then was to become a VC. The best way to learn the VC trade was to put in work at startups. Since then, I’ve been a full-time tech founder, and my appetite for becoming a VC has diminished.

StitcherAds gained traction in 2013, when paid ads on social were not yet credible for direct response and mobile advertising was in its early days. We realized we could make inroads with custom audience targeting and mobile ads.  Today, as Facebook cements its place as the second-leading digital ad platform, StitcherAds is focused on innovating for the retail space and bridging the gap between offline and online. We are seeing new verticals and offline marketing budgets flock to the platform.

How much has the Advertising Technology evolved since the start of StitcherAds?  

  • Walled gardens have won. Everything else is dead or has no scale on mobile.
  • Arbitrary business models benefited the ad tech vendor—not the customer. The old desktop ad tech market and native advertising market had the wrong incentives: Reach the highest amount of eyeballs, instead of the eyeballs with the highest chance of driving sales/revenue. This is no longer the case.
  • Attribution has highly evolved over the last four years. Last-click is dead and rightly so. Flexible attribution models that are relevant to the customer purchase journey are now king. Now, we are seeing changes in attribution to cover online-to-offline measurement.
  • The emergence of influencer marketing has shifted budgets in digital and above-the-line advertising. In some cases, advertisers are spending up to 20% of their budgets on influencers.

As an Ad Technology CEO, how would you identify the biggest advantages of leading online Sales Operations with automation and analytics?

The main advantage is receiving stronger signals on whether your customer or prospect is engaging with your product or service. Through content or web-based signals, we can identify this early on in the relationship or sales process and respond accordingly.

What valuable lessons did you learn from 2018’s massive mergers and acquisitions in the Ad Sales and Automation areas?

The Acxiom sale pretty much saved LiveRamp. Any form of third-party data augmentation offering has to be dead now in a consumer privacy-driven market, as backed up by GDPR.

The Dataroma acquisition by Salesforce is smart. Driving better creative personalization is core to effective direct response advertising. We see a big demand for coupling dynamic creative with scaled data signals from offline and online data sources.

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth, lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition in 2019.

Our go-to strategies include staying highly focused and adding value in the market. We support our alignment with Facebook in the production of content and events.

As we transitioned into 2019, creative paved the way and was an opportunity for us to highlight the benefits of using offline data. As a result, we were named an official Facebook & Instagram Creative Partner in early February 2019.

How do you mentor your product marketing and B2B commerce teams at StitcherAds?

The teams’ short-term goals are in line with our key company goals. We then focus on what is actually achievable for these teams.

What do you think about the recent listing of Amazon as a Facebook advertising report?

Facebook has more eyeballs than Amazon. Therefore, to reach the right consumer, it just makes sense to go where the eyeballs are.

Clearly, Amazon has strong intent data, but Amazon is typically not a discovery channel. To acquire net new customers, Facebook is key – as opposed to mopping up the intent that exists on Amazon.

What is the state of advertising duopoly? How do you deal with it?

Clearly, Facebook and Google have the lion’s share of direct response. However, if you think about brand or mid-funnel spend, the advertising duopoly is really Facebook/Google vs. offline/traditional advertising. We see huge growth due to paid social cannibalizing offline budgets for one reason: It’s measurable and highly targeted.

It would be healthy for the market for Twitter, Pinterest and/or Snap to get to a level of scale that is meaningful. We see good performance metrics on Pinterest for retail, but it’s a small piece compared to what we see on Facebook and Instagram.

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

Our tech community has a few pillars. Generally, it is split into four areas.

  • Customers (marketing teams and data teams)
  • Facebook & Instagram (sales teams, product managers, engineers)
  • Offline data vendors and consultants
  • Creative tech partners

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

We rely heavily on Intercom, Salesforce, and MailChimp.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing and Sales technology for 2019-2020?

Online-to-offline marketing is going to get smarter and more measurable. With that, the adoption of Facebook Offline Conversion is going to become mainstream for the retail industry.

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

Larger retail measurement companies, including Applied Predictive Technologies; and we continue to watch the evolution of the creative ad tech industry through companies like Whalar, VidMob, and Spirable.

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

At its core, AI makes it easier and quicker to do work that was once labor and Excel-spreadsheet intensive. AI makes it quicker to innovate, but at the same time, your competition is innovating equally as fast. If you’re not thinking about how to use AI to solve for core customer needs, you are losing your competitiveness.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

You need to eat your own dog food. Use it, show its effectiveness, and then your team will follow.

What is one word that best describes how you work?

Realistic.

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

Slack, phone, a notebook.

What is your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

To-do lists prioritized based on themes, e.g. “sales,” “corporate,” “ops.” Daily, I write down my top five in order and get to them.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I read non-fiction to learn and fiction to decompress. I am currently reading “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz and “I am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes.

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

“Don’t give up.”

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

I empathize with others and look at things from their perspectives.

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

Mark Read, CEO at WPP

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

Declan Kennedy is the CEO and co-founder of StitcherAds, a Facebook Marketing Partner. Through Declan’s experience in paid social and digital innovation, StitcherAds has become recognized as a top performance marketing platform for Facebook & Instagram.

StitcherAds empowers top brands such as Finish Line, Reiss, and Saks Fifth Avenue to increase the revenue impact of their ad spend using data-fueled automation.

stitcherads logo

StitcherAds is a Facebook & Instagram Marketing Partner helping retailers and agencies scale full-funnel performance marketing campaigns on Facebook & Instagram. Retailers choose the platform for its unique omnichannel marketing capabilities, product feed management, pre-to-post campaign optimization, creative automation, and customizable reporting. The company works on a hybrid service model, onboarding clients from fully-managed service to self-serve – ensuring long-term success with its software. Top retailers around the globe – including Finish Line, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Landmark Group – power their campaigns using StitcherAds.

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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