MarTech Interview with Gil Bar-Tur, CEO at PubPlus

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MarTech Interview with Gil Bar-Tur, CEO at PubPlus

“The publishing industry has taken monumental steps forward in the past few years, but publishers still need to put their business caps on and focus on content as a product”

Could you tell us about your role and journey into technology? What inspired you to establish PubPlus – as well as expand globally?

I’ve always been a tech lover and early adopter of new trends. I started out in an elite military unit then made the natural transition to cybersecurity after my service; only later on was I exposed to the online publishing world by a close friend and mentor, leading me to become Co-founder and CEO of PubPlus. Together we set out to build a data-first content publication, creating great experiences for both readers and advertisers, and allowing us to become profitable.

While scaling our reader base across multiple platforms and languages, we encountered significant tech challenges related to attribution. As we worked to build tech solutions for these issues we realized the lack of revenue attribution technology was affecting publishers worldwide. That’s when we decided to build PubPlus, a platform catering to all online content publishers. We launched in the US and are currently expanding across European and Asian markets.

Could you tell us more about PubPlus and how you help publishers profitably distribute content via paid channels, as well as measure the success of these initiatives? Tell us more about your platform, the PubPlus Lab and managed services for publishers.

We started out as publishers, but since we weren’t an arm of a big publishing house or backed by major investors, we had to make sure that we were spending our Marketing dollars correctly. Literally every dollar we spent needed to back out to more than a dollar earned. This proved challenging. Successful content promotion requires distributing across different channels, with different metrics and variations in timing and granularity. We needed a unified view and a standard language for understanding return on investment. That’s why we built PubPlus, which began as our in-house revenue attribution platform. Today, our platform and know-how are accessible to publishers worldwide. Our publisher partners get access to our revenue attribution platform that maps out their biggest opportunities (ie. high yielding audiences and content matches), and are paired with a publisher success team to lead them through obstacles as they scale their opportunities.

The PubPlus Lab plays a key role in our operation, housing research and development into the science of profitable publishing, the Lab examines trends and draws insights that help streamline efficiency and maximize profits for publishers.

Our full Managed Service offering provides publishers with a team of experts backed by our proprietary AI technology to manage and measure all content distribution efforts in real-time. The team functions as an extension of publisher operations, optimizing performance to its highest potential to reach KPIs.

When you look back into the outgoing decade, which website management platforms and tools do you really miss having or working with? What is the next generation of these platforms and tools?

Google Analytics – it used to be a great tool with a focus on e-commerce but in the future, and in order to stay relevant, they should start providing publishers with holistic visibility into revenue.

What drives the current competition in the ‘Content and Data Economy’? What lessons did you learn from your journey in Marketing and Publishing technology?

The publishing industry has taken monumental steps forward in the past few years, but publishers still need to put their business caps on and focus on content as a product. Publishers should follow the lead of other industries and brands that are using innovative ways to scale their businesses. The data is out there and it’s waiting to be used – now is the time to link cost to profit, and more importantly, to utilize data to profitably distribute content.

Tell us how you work with technology. What Marketing, Sales, Revenue attribution and messaging tools do you use for your business, internally? How do you support your clients and partners with the same?

We utilize a whole set of tools to make our operation run smoothly. For internal communication and information sharing among teams we use Slack, Salesforce is used to control our Sales funnel, to create Marketing Automation funnels for our different audiences we use HubSpot, Jira is used across the board to manage all operational aspects of the business, and Monday is for managing projects. Last but not least, we use PubPlus to manage and measure our clients’ Marketing budgets in real-time.

Tell us something that fascinates you the most in building and working in an open work place at PubPlus. What are your thoughts about embracing inclusion and diversity?

Diversity is one of our core values – and to us diversity means a number of things. For one, we have recruited and attracted talented women and men from all over the broader region who are English speaking but comfortable operating globally and in diverse settings. In addition, we have the benefit of talent spanning an interesting mix of professional backgrounds and histories. Unlike Silicon Valley, our team are not all tech developers. As we continue to expand globally, across cultures and disciplines, it is important to have multiple, diverse credentials, lifestyles and perspectives as we build products and strategies for an increasingly global client base.

How are such inclusive workplaces perceived by your customers and partners?

Being an inclusive and diverse workplace gives us a competitive advantage because we can tailor ourselves to our client’s needs and preferences; our dedicated team is able to speak to customers and partners on a professional and personal level. Our company’s diversity has helped us break into the global market and succeed almost everywhere we’ve tried.

What is one epic moment from the decade (2011-2019) that changed your outlook on the tech landscape?

You couldn’t open a newspaper, or more likely an online news source, over the past decade without seeing some sort of AI-related headline. Whether it was IBM Watson winning Jeopardy, machines taking over human jobs at Amazon, or the rise of autonomous vehicles, the last 10 years have put AI on the top of everyone’s mind. AI has the potential to transform nearly every industry on the planet and in many cases, already has.

What are your predictions for your industry and technology markets for 2020-2024?

Within the publishing industry, we are witnessing a major shift in focus toward profitable audience growth. For years, e-commerce sites have lead the way in paid content promotion, in part because the revenue per visit on their sites is higher, and the math backs out more easily to justify return on spend. This year, as organic reach on social platforms continues to decline, more traditional content publishers are realizing that the math works for them, too, and as a result they are taking a fresh look at paid content promotion. Major publications like Forbes and the Washington Post have already made this a core focus. And, if our conversations with publishers are any indication, many more will soon follow.

This shift is an important inflection point for the publishing industry overall. After a decade of hasty pivots – pivot to video, pivot to events, to newsletters, to native, to subscriptions – the focus now is squarely on tactics that are proven to drive profitable growth. And it’s in this context that the tried-and-true tactic of paid promotion is emerging as a core element of publishers’ growth strategy. And I think that’s because A) it works, of course, but also B) that it means the publishers can focus on doing what they do best: creating content. It doesn’t ask them to acquire a brand new capability that they didn’t already have at the core of their business.

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

I’m a big fan of the food tech industry and watch a few interesting startups that with the rapid evolution of technology, digitalization opportunities — used in a traditionally low-tech, complex industry- open a variety of applications to the global chain. Improved technologies focused on animal product substitutes continue to grow and get new investments. Impossible Foods recently launched the 2.0 version of its vegan burger, which was the winner in the top tech category at CES 2019. As prices decrease and sensorial quality increase, these products will gain more popularity among all consumer groups.

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

@BrianOkelly

@Jona Paretti

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

Online content enthusiast, user experience geek, data science nerd.

Combining all three of these has brought me to start PubPlus, a platform allowing publishers to drill down layers of information and extract real time insights in order to take action.

pubplus logo

PubPlus is a revenue attribution solution that helps publishers maximize content distribution spend, ad revenue, and user engagement.

PubPlus seamlessly aggregates publisher’s data into one easy-to-manage platform where ad revenue is attributed to the marketing spend, leveraging valuable insights in order to maximize growth and profit.

With PubPlus, publishers can easily spot and halt underperforming content distribution campaigns and scale the profitable ones in order to maximize their ROI.

Our mission is to empower publishers by providing them with insights most publications generally overlook. These insights allow them to make better business decisions and resume control of their full potential audience.

We are a dedicated team of professionals, constantly exploring new ways to make the most out of content.

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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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