MarTech Interview with Josh Sukenic, VP and General Manager at AdAdapted

Josh Sukenic, VP and General Manager at AdAdapted chats about the growing benefits and features of today’s self-serve ad platforms while sharing a few digital advertising best practices to help drive better digital ad ROI in this catch-up:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Joshua, tell us about yourself and more about your role at AdAdapted..

I am the vice president and general manager of AdAdapted Direct. I established and now lead the new AdAdapted Direct business unit. AdAdapted Direct is an on-demand, self-managed advertising solution built to make advertising to an audience of over 110 million verified primary shoppers easy and accessible. My amazing team and I work with many smaller and emerging CPG brands, independent grocery retailers and their agencies to drive awareness, purchase intent, and conversion with shoppers while they plan and shop, both online or in-store. We are focused on continually creating the easiest and most beneficial self-service advertising platform available.

Ultimately, I spend my day working with customers to help them grow their brand and succeed with our unique advertising solution — a responsibility I take very seriously and enjoy.  

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What are the benefits of self-managed ad platforms, and when using these features, what should advertisers/marketers keep in mind?

Many brands use self-serve platforms as they allow more control over spend and there’s little or no cost to start. More and more brands are turning to self-serve because it gives them agility in the market. Brands can quickly launch, test, learn, and optimize new messaging, products, consumer benefits and more. I think it’s important to note that we do self-service a little differently than others — I call it supported self-service. We have a team that helps brands design, launch, manage, and review campaigns. Our customers have so much going on, including all aspects of sales, production and supply chain, so they appreciate the extra help. Self-serve digital solutions like ours are especially useful for emerging brands who aren’t ready or able to immediately invest in a full-blown martech program or platform. In all, self-service offers brands many benefits, including the ability to:

  • Control spend and curate audience targets;
  • Rapidly iterate to reach the ideal audience, ahead of the competition;
  • Develop high-value and impactful advertising at lower campaign spends;
  • Run ads continuously to always be in front of shoppers and boost performance on the fly.

Marketers and advertisers should look for an intuitive platform that can empower their brand to activate consumer marketing quickly and efficiently without specialized expertise. Equipped with the right tools, brands can drive high value and impactful advertising that fuels results. 

In what ways are you seeing online and offline ad trends change in today’s market: a few predictions for the near-future?

Maybe I’m old school, but I still prefer holding a book versus reading on a tablet, so I believe traditional off-line advertising will continue to play a role. However, all we have to do is look around when we are walking down the street — people are constantly using their phones. Online advertising on platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram and other search and social platforms, with their huge reach, will undeniably continue to play a large role for CPG brands. In addition, retail media networks will continue to grow and thrive due to their data and insight into shopper behaviors. 

That said, with so much noise, CPG brands must find new audiences and tools to engage shoppers throughout the entire purchase funnel. Awareness is not enough. Brands must engage shoppers through consideration, intent, purchase, and loyalty. The best way to do this is to be highly contextual. Meet your shoppers where they are, at the critical points of the path to purchase. 

One trend that will continue to impact brands, and likely needs its own spotlight is consumer data privacy. I expect this subject to get muddier before finding longer-term clarity. The best advice for brands is to work with contextual advertising partners and trusted publishers who can leverage behavioral data to effectively target consumers.

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What are some basic ad campaign fundamentals that you feel brands need to focus on more today to help cut through the noise and add value through their ad campaigns?

This really depends on the brand’s growth stage from start-up to emerging to established. For start-up and emerging brands, there is the old-school adage that a consumer needs to engage with a brand’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action. In today’s market of scrolling and shorter attention spans, it is likely even higher. Along with repetition and brand building, CPGs will need to deploy strategic and differentiated advertising to stay competitive and win new shoppers. 

Established mega-brands have access to the same search and social (Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc) audience and have the resources to buy your searches, keywords and impressions. Thankfully, for smaller and emerging brands, I believe differentiation will be key. I say “thankfully” because that’s what these brands excel at as they were founded on their uniqueness. These brands need to focus on their message and find unique and different audiences. AdAdapted Direct, for example, allows these brands to engage verified shoppers while they are planning to shop, and shopping. It’s an exclusive, contextual audience that helps drive brand awareness, purchase intent, and conversion. There are other unique solutions and audiences in the market as well.  

How can marketers and advertisers drive better ad performance in today’s market, in terms of tools and processes that they should be refocusing on?

In today’s market, brands need to be able to target consumers during the planning phase of the shopping journey. It’s the most effective way to get branded products onto shopping lists, referenced in store and into consumers’ shopping carts without interrupting the user experience. 

Shopping list marketing uses digital technology to reach consumers while they’re planning their next shopping trip — before they even set foot in the store. As shoppers add items to their mobile shopping list or cart, they are served suggestions for branded products they’re likely to buy. Our data shows that this technology is much more efficient compared to awareness tactics like social media or display ads, which are notoriously difficult to measure for sales impact. Instead, shopping list marketing can tell brands how many of their products get added to shopping lists, which is a strong indicator of purchase intent.

With a strong self-serve shopping list marketing solution, brands can reach shoppers directly, boost awareness, drive trials, and increase sales and sales velocities by winning new consumers. 

We’d love to hear a few thoughts you have in mind for the future of adtech?

I think there are several trends we’re seeing now that will continue to permeate in the future. From a provider perspective, I can see industry consolidation coming. With so many ad providers and media outlets available (web, app, location-based, programmatic, private marketplaces, mobile, native, OTT/CTV, and more), I see advertisers gravitating towards more holistic solution providers. I see this driving a heightened focus on measurement Cost Per Action (CPA) measures such as Cost Per Lead (CPL), Cost Per Visit (CPV), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), and more. 

In addition, I also don’t think you can talk about the future of advertising without considering the consumer. The customer will have a continued voice in how their data is used to advertise. We’re already seeing that today in iOS, Google and Android, directly impacting Facebook Ads. Providers like LiveRamp and TradeDesk are creating their own consumer unique ID. I expect these IDs to win and become pervasive across the industry.  

Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!

Nothing makes me happier than seeing customers succeed to reach their goals. Whether these goals are financial or altruistic, small and emerging brands who have worked so hard with such strong personal and professional passion to create a name for themselves all deserve to succeed. Unfortunately, we know how competitive the CPG space is. 

My last thought is to keep up the great work! While these entrepreneurs and operators may not hear it or feel it every day, there are people, like me, rooting for you.

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AdAdapted is a leading shopping list marketing and insights platform built for CPG brands, agencies, and retailers. AdAdapted’s powerful list data and unique ad products help the world’s top CPGs meet their most important goals. With 110MM+ US shoppers using a mobile grocery list app, AdAdapted has built a distinct audience and ad offering no other solution can provide. No one gets branded products on the list and in the cart like AdAdapted.

As VP and GM of AdAdapted Direct, Josh Sukenic leads the product roadmap and the operational aspects of AdAdapted Direct, an on-demand, self-managed advertising solution built to make consumer marketing easy and accessible for businesses of all sizes. Prior to joining AdAdapted, Sukenic held leadership positions at data and analytics companies such as Morningstar, Inc and EBSCO. He also initiated and led global commercial excellence and digital transformation at Dawn Foods.

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