MarTech Interview with Richard Jones, CMO, Cheetah Digital

“Customers don’t want brands snooping on them and inferring what they like. Brands must adapt to a new, non-invasive way of reaching consumers.”

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Journey into Tech 

Hi Richard, tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to take up the role at Cheetah Digital?

Before Cheetah Digital, I started my career in Sales. Over time, success in Sales led me to other avenues of business including Marketing and Strategy.

Learning from these experiences gave me the background and knowledge I needed to create EngageSciences, a Marketing Engagement platform, which I Co-founded in 2011. In 2016, we merged with Wayin to help marketers deliver authentic and interactive brand experiences across channels, collecting zero-party data at scale. Last year, Wayin was acquired by Cheetah Digital.

During our conversations with Cheetah Digital, I saw how uniquely positioned the company is to help provide brands with the technology that facilitates a value exchange with consumers throughout the lifecycle.

The acquisition excited me because in combination with Cheetah Digital’s Customer Engagement Suite I knew marketers would have the tools they need to successfully put the data they receive to use. Gladly, I am able to continue this mission as CMO of Cheetah Digital.

In the marketplace dominated by data-driven AdTech companies, how do you build your own niche customer base at Cheetah Digital? 

Cheetah Digital is dedicated to marketers. Our products are built for marketers by marketers. We enable our clients to acquire, retain and create emotionally loyal customers through our technology and services.

Unlike other Customer Data Platforms that require IT integrations and lack seamless coordination with cross-channel experiences, the Cheetah Engagement Data Platform establishes a foundational layer to the Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite, providing real-time data collection, profile unification, segmentation and machine learning-driven insights – while enabling personalized cross-channel communications, customer experiences and loyalty programs. Through these capabilities, marketers can ensure success across any touchpoint of the customer lifecycle. Marketers will and always remain our top priority.

Data and Privacy 

What drives the current competition in the ‘Data Economy’? How do you see Data-based Marketing evolving with maturity of other digital channels, especially Video and Social media? 

With the addition of GDPR and CCPA, we can expect to see more privacy regulations in the months to come. These regulations require data companies to rethink how they acquire data and share data with others.

Marketers are already taking the necessary steps to meet these regulations as well as companies like Google and Mozilla who are removing third-party cookies. Digital ad formats will begin to be less personal.

Instead, we’ll see a resurgence of Marketing via extremely specific media outlets to target the right audience. Think, an archery equipment provider advertising in a Bowhunting Magazine. Customers don’t want brands snooping on them and inferring what they like. Brands must adapt to a new, non-invasive way of reaching consumers.

Google recently announced plans to phase out third-party cookies, what does this mean for marketers and advertisers?

What’s interesting about Google making moves to phase out third-party cookies, is that they are arguably the leading browser, but not the first to make this move; Mozilla announced blocking cookies in 2019. The desire for control over data is now forcing browsers and manufacturers to continuously updates versions of their systems to address consumer wants, like the removal of cookies, decreased use of location data and more.

We’re seeing forward-thinking marketers get ahead of privacy issues and technology disruptions like this by focusing on zero-party data collection – data shared directly with a brand by consumers. This approach can future-proof their Marketing efforts and, in most cases, transcend impending legislation that continues to erode current Advertising strategies.

Organizations continue to see changes in Programmatic Advertising with new success metrics, new channels and more. However, with many calling out its lack of transparency and decreasing engagement rates, what can companies do to acquire consumer data and what metrics should they track, if not clicks, views, etc.? 

Many marketers think the answer is first-party data. Unfortunately, first-party data has its limitations, pulling purchase history rather than purchase intention. Spamming consumers with ads for products they’ve already bought will not enhance the reputation of programmatic.

Instead, marketers need to incorporate zero-party data, directly collected from consumers not using tracking pixels, cookies or cross-device identification. To achieve this, marketers must offer a value exchange. Through value exchange, marketers deliver consumers with interactive experiences that conduct research, accrue explicit opt-ins and deliver an altogether better experience. By capturing consumer motivations, intentions, interests and preferences at scale allows for truly personalized touchpoints throughout the customer lifecycle.

Insights and Predictions

What are your predictions for your industry and CRM/Marketing Automation technology markets for 2020-2024?

In the coming years, there are a couple of key changes/pivots that will happen including:

Resurgence of Loyalty Programs

Because of increasing consumer data privacy legislation and moves by browsers and mobile operating systems to restrict marketers’ ability to use third-party tracking cookies to understand consumer behavior, there will be a paradigm shift in the way brands communicate with customers.

We’ll see a resurgence in loyalty programs, one type of value exchange between brand and consumer, as a means to gather permission-based data and drive engagement.

The impact of privacy in 2020 

With the implementation of CCPA, marketers can expect to see more states in the United States introduce their own legislation around consumer privacy, eventually leading to nationwide legislation. This will increase the number of fines we see around privacy and will bring about more legal battles for companies like Facebook who will be forced to change how marketers can target ads to consumers.

Beyond privacy impacting our lives as marketers and consumers, it will also impact our lives as citizens in 2020, leaving citizens requesting political parties to stop the use of their data for political or monetary gain.

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

Richard Jones is the CMO at Cheetah Digital, where he oversees a global team that is responsible for all aspects of the brand, demand generation, digital marketing, corporate communications, and sales development.

With more than 20 years of Marketing, Sales and Strategy experience, Jones was previously the CEO of Wayin, a global leader in zero-party data collection and activation. In July 2019, Wayin was acquired by Cheetah Digital and rebranded as Cheetah Experiences. Preceding his time at Wayin, Jones co-founded EngageSciences, which merged with Wayin in May 2016. Jones also led regional sales for the EMEA team at Eloqua.

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Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalized experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies, underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today’s consumer. Many of the world’s best brands, including Neiman Marcus, Hilton, Walgreens, and Williams-Sonoma trust Cheetah Digital to help them drive revenue, build lasting customer relationships, and deliver a unique value exchange throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

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