MarTech Interview With Jenn Chen, President and Chief Revenue Officer at Connatix

Jenn Chen, President and Chief Revenue Officer at Connatix chats about a few revenue alignment trends and best practices while highlighting the importance of videos in B2B, in this quick-chat:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Jenn, tell us about your B2B/Tech journey and more about your role at Connatix?

I started out in finance, as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers. It was the best of times and the worst of times, but it was also an exciting time! I got an insider view of businesses and brushed up on Excel. Then, I joined two friends at a startup called Scoop St, which was acquired a couple of years later. As I was learning about operating a business, I realized I knew nothing about the costs of user acquisition, marketing and advertising.

So when a friend at AppNexus told me about his job and the company, I was intrigued. I wore a dozen hats there, including BD, partnerships, sales and AM. I also dabbled in Product. I learned a ton. It was like an undergrad degree in adtech. I joined my client MediaMind/Sizmek from AppNexus to run their programmatic business and spent 5 years there building it from less than 10 people in the US to over 50 globally from London to Sydney. It was an incredible MBA, where I learned how to scale, buy and merge companies and teams, create and re-create culture, while having a front row seat to both public and private markets. Finally, I serendipitously found Connatix when I was ready to build the commercial functions of sales, accounts and marketing from nearly scratch and joined as CRO of this video innovation rocketship that aims to elevate the experiences for publishers and advertisers alike through video. In my recent CRO and President role, I will be working more on international, business and corporate development initiatives, as well as business operations.

How do you feel CROs and Marketing leaders/Marketing teams need to align more strongly to drive core business goals? What best practices would you share from your own experience doing this?

Revenue and Marketing teams should have a rock solid relationship where they are constantly holding hands and helping each other. I use the analogy of a bullseye, where Revenue, or new and existing dollars, sits at the center. Marketing surrounds the bullseye with different approaches including upper funnel branding, mid funnel account based marketing and bottom funnel outbound or SDR support.

Marketing also amplifies the voice of the bullseye center by sharing stories outside of the immediate customer base and building brand awareness with new prospects. Over the years, I’ve learned that over communication is a best practice, as well as visualizing everything, especially while we’re now in a hybrid working environment. It’s important to plan ahead, project manage and have written alignment across all teams and channels.

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According to you, what should CROs keep in mind through 2022 as they get ready for newer post-pandemic business experiences and challenges?

As we approach the halfway mark of 2022, there are a few areas I’m keeping in mind and preparing for. The unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not only in-person connections but, more importantly, budgets. This means that forecasting has gotten harder and scenario planning with at least a Plan A, B, and C is that much more important, as well as flexibility to shift approaches when needed.

As for the day-to-day, it’s clear that virtual and hybrid work are here to stay. Client engagement is now done via email or screen more often than in person, so every presentation or pitch must be visually engaging and that much more exciting to capture attention. And in-person presentations, if given the opportunity, are much more critical to nail. We’ve also adjusted to the fact that closing business can be done more efficiently over email now, and I don’t anticipate that changing, even as we start to do more meetings in person.

On the team management side, the pandemic has also reaffirmed how essential it is to build and maintain an internal culture that caters to different personalities and work styles. You can’t reach revenue goals without a strong, supported team.

We’d love to hear more about Connatix’s own Revenue-Sales-Marketing strategies/processes and especially the martech/revtech/salestech that helps drive all of it!

Connatix’s Revenue, Sales and Marketing teams work closely together to build one centralized source of truth that serves as the foundation for the company’s growth strategy. We’ve also implemented connective technology and OS between departments to make collaboration and knowledge sharing even easier, especially while we’re working remotely and growing rapidly. Through trial and error we have also developed best practices for communication across teams including structuring meetings with clear agendas to ensure everyone understands takeaways, next steps and goals for collaborative projects.

Tell us about the Connatix platform, how has it evolved over the recent past?

I joined Connatix four years ago when it was a 50-person business with two offices and only one core product. Today, we have tripled in size with 150+ employees, five global offices, multiple product lines, and innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning and more. We now work with 3,000+ of the industry’s leading publishers including The Associated Press, Accuweather, and McClatchy, and 1,000+ top brands including Mars, P&G and CVS. Last summer, we also secured a significant investment from Court Square Capital Partners, a leader in private equity, which has fueled our global expansion, allowed us to double down on product innovations especially on the advertiser side of the business, and put us on track to accelerate growth through strategic M&A initiatives.

We have also been thoughtful about career evolution and have created roles that match both business and personal growth. It’s our employees who have made Connatix what it is today and will continue to push us toward exponential growth in the future, and we want to arm our teams with the tools they need to be successful both personally and professionally.

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How do you feel the use of video will transform for marketers and salespeople in the next few months?

Video has always captivated eyeballs and viewer interest, and is one of the most effective channels for advertising. Over the next few months, I anticipate we’ll see a proliferation of types of video content from short to long form, mobile to laptop, desktop, and other screens, and even out of home on billboards, vehicles, and more. It’s important that marketers and salespeople pay attention to this trend and remain creative, adaptive, and think holistically about the video consumer experience in terms of both exposure and accessibility.

We are also seeing increased interest in contextual intelligence and targeting, especially on the video advertising front, among growing calls for brand safety, user privacy and Google’s impending death of the third-party cookie. While contextual isn’t a new concept, today’s approach is more nuanced, ensuring that ads are delivered on relevant pages without comprising the reader’s experience. At Connatix, we have developed an advanced deep contextual solution, leveraging innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning to take contextual to new heights for publishers and advertisers. Our proprietary deep contextual technology analyzes audio and frame-by-frame images from videos in real time, understanding page and video context to generate targetable categories before a video even gets to the page.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!

It’s an exciting time for the industry as we enter a new adtech renaissance with innovations in video technology, artificial intelligence and more. We see deep contextual as the future for publishers and advertisers, not only to combat cookie depreciation but to answer advertisers’ calls for brand safety, data privacy, content alignment and a better overall experience. And while contextual will be a key strategy, we don’t foresee behavioral targeting going away, instead it will change as we rely on newer identity solutions rather than third-party cookies. This means the way forward will be a combination of contextual and behavioral approaches all with a focus on bridging the gap between publishers and advertisers, increasing transparency in the programmatic process, and enhancing the reader’s experience with high quality video content.

Connatix Native Exchange Inc. – IAB Europe

Connatix is a next-generation video platform for publishers.

Jenn Chen is the Chief Revenue Officer at Connatix, a next generation video platform for publishers.

At Connatix, Jenn leads the growth and expansion of the publisher development, buyer and marketing teams. Previously, Jenn was the VP/GM of Programmatic at Sizmek where she scaled the global programmatic business and drove several strategic acquisitions. In addition, Jenn is the Co-Founder and President of Givology, a nonprofit platform which connects donors to students in developing countries.

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