MarTech Interview with Jeremy Fain, CEO at Cognitiv

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“It has been proven over and over again that brands that continue to advertise during recessions bounce back faster than those that do not. “

How has your business changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

We have closed our offices and are now 100% remotely working for our clients. We are spread out across the two coasts, but we are still working really well together and every day it gets easier.

Our business has changed for the better because marketers are much more focused on ROI than before the pandemic, and being extremely cautious about any Marketing spend that does not back into performance metrics.

What are some of the things you’re doing to boost employee morale at Cognitiv?

We realized right away that what we loved about working in an office needed to be mimicked somehow as we worked from home. Each office started daily virtual video meetings so we could see each other and catch up on a personal level.

Even before the quarantines,  we were doing activities virtually in order to connect our two big offices in Bellevue and New York City, so we have been continuing with those fun cross-company team building activities like digital trivia games and competitions, and we have added some new things along the way.

Tell us about these activities.

One of the activities that is deeply ingrained in our culture is our House system. Rather than forcing the offices into Pictionary each month, we split our employees into one of four Houses – think Hogwarts or intramural sports teams. The Houses purposefully split up departments and offices so people can get to know others they do not work with daily.

I act as the referee (my coworkers like to call me Dumbledore), deciding how the teams compete. Each House has its own name, which relates to our business, and have defined their own traits and designed a crest.

The Houses were established a couple of years ago to encourage cross-country camaraderie and communication, and we felt it was especially important to maintain this team-building initiative even in a virtual setting.

How is your staff communicating with one another while working remotely?

Every day the head of the offices’ hosts Zoom breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even happy hours. Over a meal (or drink) we chat about what everyone is going through. It’s a personal conversation – not work-related. It helps us to socialize. We all feel better and closer after touching base and it’s a fun addition to our workday!

What are you doing for clients?

COVID-19  has changed much of how consumers behave, and Cognitiv’s job is to predict that behavior. Our clients have benefited from our Deep Learning technology because it is able to see those changes and adapt quickly to the new content consumption and decisioning patterns.  It has been proven over and over again that brands that continue to advertise during recessions bounce back faster than those that do not and we are making sure those dollars are being spent hyper efficiently. Our algorithms are also pushing insights back out to our clients so they can understand more quickly what is changing for their prospects and customers.

This is also a time where we find many of our clients showing more interest in the science of automated algorithms and we have developed several new resources to help educate – from webinars to white papers – as well as additional learning activities. We want to not only show them what Deep Learning can do for their brand’s goals but how these deep neural networks are changing the way we will live in the near future.

Are these employee morale-boosting activities working?

The feedback we have received is that employees are feeling supported, appreciated, and connected even though they are spread out all over the country. It also helps that our business is growing and expanding.

We are hiring people right now and just hired five additional people in our Bellevue office. Remote onboarding is a new challenge for us, as I am sure it is for others, but our House system is helping get them integrated quickly.

Today’s video conferencing offerings have also really helped us all see, be seen, hear and be heard, which is making it all a lot easier to not get to come together every day like we used to.

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

Jeremy Fain is the co-founder and CEO of Cognitiv. With over 20 years of interactive experience, Jeremy has worked across the agency and publisher landscape in roles ranging from marketing, to industry standards, to revenue leadership.

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Cognitiv is the first company to leverage AI to create custom, fully automated buying algorithms that maximize ROI for marketers. Cognitiv’s deep learning, real-time execution platform, NeuralMind, gives marketers an undeniable competitive edge by more accurately predicting customer behavior and targeting potential consumers. Our innovative performance solutions have been shown to be up to 20 times more efficient than standard industry practice.

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