MarTech Interview with Som Puangladda, VP of Global Marketing at GumGum

“A creative digital invite is key to great event experiences because we know that our target audience gets a lot of event invites and we need to stand out.”

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Hi Som, tell us about your role/team you handle at GumGum. What inspired you to join the company?

I run the Global Marketing team here at GumGum, which means I lead growth marketers, marketing operations, and the content and creative teams. Our core focus has been driving growth through Integrated Marketing campaigns, Events, PR, Content Marketing and Lead Generation.

I joined GumGum 3.5 years ago to help build out the Marketing team. I was drawn to GumGum because I had become really intrigued by the AI space and I saw it as a great opportunity to get closer to that evolving tech. I was highly focused on operations, lead gen and events, but the nature of GumGum’s business put me a lot closer to the product, which is something I’d been wanting.

You’ve been a great leader in the Marketing Technology space for quite some time. What unique challenges did you face in your transition from the dotcom era to mobile and AI today?

No matter how drastic the change, I’ve always relied on a philosophy of adaptability and embraced trial and error as a fundamental practice. I am always making little adjustments – changing things all the time – so when big industry shifts happen they don’t really feel that big.

So, to be honest, I didn’t find that dotcom-to-AI shift particularly challenging. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been fortunate in that I lead a world-class team and also that some of the tools and technologies I use – Salesforce comes to mind, for example – are daily trend-proof.

Tell us about your experience working with Splash for your Marketing events program. How has your events program changed alongside Splash over the years?

Splash has been our event management partner for over 3.5 years now – and they’ve been terrific. We started with just small regional events because our success with regional event marketing had driven demand for them among sellers. To scale up regional event activity we needed to push invites out faster while keeping them on brand. We need our regional marketers to be able to do that themselves without the need to get our creative/designers involved. That’s how we got started with Splash, but then we evolved our events strategy to bigger GumGum custom events like, which is a very successful annual event for us during Cannes Lion Festival.

Now, in addition to using Splash for external events, we also use them to help create better experiences for our employee events, panels, Hackathons and All Hands Off-Site. One thing about Splash that has made them such a good partner is their adaptability. We were using them when they were developing Salesforce integration and I was so impressed with how they assimilated our feedback to improve their tool in ways that serve the needs of event marketers nicely – and now we have a beautiful dashboard that shows all of our event ROI, which the operations maven in me absolutely loves!

Businesses have already seen a significant impact due to coronavirus pandemic. Those who have a Martech stack or an Enterprise Automation on the go, may not face the brunt of the business. Do you agree?

Everyone is affected – there’s no getting around it. But we are definitely blessed to have the right technology stack in place. It has been working really well for us – both in terms of internal operations as we moved to a work-from-home model and in terms of Marketing functions.

With Salesforce, HubSpot, Splash, Ceros, and Asana we can pretty much tackle all campaigns remote and effectively.

Would this wipe out the chances for start-ups and emerging SMBs if COVID 19 continues or another pandemic arrives?

I’m not an economist so I’m probably not the right person to ask––and I don’t really love worst-case hypotheticals in general! But, as I see it, humans are adaptable. If we were to find ourselves in a prolonged quarantine type situation, as much as a lot of startups and small businesses are going to fail, there would be huge opportunities for new types of products and services for a quarantined world.

What are your preparations at GumGum against the outbreak? While there’s still so much fluidity behind this moment in time, how has this changed your perspective on your events program and what are some changes you think will be implemented?

We have been working very hard on shifting our events strategy to virtual and creating digital experiences instead. I have 15+ years of experience as a marketer, so I’m no stranger to a sudden change of plans. I’m able to make the digital switch easily.

We have Ceros, Interactive Content tool, and Splash, Event Management platform, to support our execution quickly. As much as we love events, digital activations and mailers are also a core facet of our Marketing program, so we know exactly what to do––and we’re already executing. For example, we are rolling out a first-responder interactive experience to our clients, which is a fun game with prizes to ease the stress during this crisis.

Also, we’ve been using live webinar platforms to host virtual happy hours, meetings and educational lunch and learns. Attendance is high and our audiences are interested in hearing from us and seeing the creativity we got going on.

How are you coordinating work management with your CHRO/People’s Officer and respective Team Leaders?

WFH presents an obvious internal comms challenge, even with all the technology we use to maintain contact. There’s a much bigger risk of everyone, including leadership, falling out of the loop regarding company news and updates.

Our solution has been to institute daily meetings with leaders across the company to tune into client feedback – and then we take that back to our teams to make sure that strategy is communicated across everyone within the company.

Hear it from the Pro- How do you leverage Marketing tools and technologies to deliver Event Experiences?

We bring a lot of creativity to the first impression. A creative digital invite is key because we know that our target audience gets a lot of event invites and we need to stand out. That can mean anything from an interactive microsite to an AR invite bringing the teaser to life. That kind of novelty gives people a little taste of how cool the actual event experience will be.

We use Ceros to build out interactive sites for our GumGum custom events, which definitely make the events more appealing. Also, our in-house developers built an app – GumGum AR – to support bringing visuals and the story to life around an invite. We then use Splash to manage all registrations and check-ins, because it seamlessly integrates with our CRM in tracking attendees. We use Splash’s platform to bring back our messaging to guests post-event because we know they’ve had a great experience, but we need them to remember what we are offering.

Sixth sense: The Future of Event Marketing – What is your – pie in the sky – take on the reengineering of customer relationships models based on AI, CDPs, Voice, bots and numerous other tech applications?

I love data and I love efficiency and AI is the best at finding efficiencies in data. So I guess I would like a system to track everything that goes down at every event––everything. (Do not let me become president because we’d have a surveillance state.) How long did every guest stay? Who did they talk to? What did they drink? What did they say? What did they smile at? How many drinks did they have? Etc etc.

If we could record all that with Computer Vision systems and Natural Language Processing and whatever other kinds of sensors––and run it through an AI system that interpolates that data other client touchpoint and sales data, I would suddenly know exactly what is working, what is not, what I’m spending money on that I shouldn’t be, what I should be spending more on, etc. Not only would that make me the best event marketer in the world, but it might just give me the insights I need to become the best marketer period!

What are your thoughts and experiences with GDPR, CCPA, and other data privacy regulations? How do consumer data privacy laws affect your business?

GumGum is actually benefiting from those laws because we specialize in contextual targeting. Contextual targeting doesn’t require user data, so advertisers who have relied on user data for behavioral targeting are increasingly turning to contextual. The death of the cookie is creating an increased demand for the powerful insights that our contextual analysis AI systems offer.

Which superhuman character/literature icon do you readily connect with in life –

Wonder Woman.

A unique message for all young professionals in the tech business –

Be the first to do what others haven’t. Take the risk, knowing failure is part of the success!

Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to read here:

Mari Kim Novak, CMO, at Yieldmo.

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

Som is the VP of Global Marketing for GumGum. She is a passionate technology B2B marketer, revenue accelerator and entrepreneur with 15+ years in global sales and marketing experience focused on AI, AdTech, Digital Advertising solutions, SaaS products, Enterprise Software and startups.


GumGum is an artificial intelligence company, with deep expertise in computer vision. Its mission is to unlock the value of images and videos produced everyday across the web, social media and broadcast television. Since 2008, the company has applied its patented capabilities to serve a variety of industries from advertising to professional sports. GumGum is based in Santa Monica, California, with eight additional offices in the US, the UK, and Australia. Pioneers in image science, GumGum is backed by leading investors including Morgan Stanley, NEA, Upfront Ventures, First Round Capital and Crosscut Ventures.