MarTech Interview with Reeve Benaron, Executive Chairman and CEO at AUDIENCEX

MarTech Interview with Reeve Benaron, Executive Chairman & CEO, AudienceX
MarTech Interview with Reeve Benaron, Executive Chairman & CEO, AudienceX

“Thanks to advancement in AI, the aspiration of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is becoming a reality.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to start AudienceX?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur, and so I have a keen appreciation for the challenges facing burgeoning brands. More often than not, challengers simply don’t have access to the same tools and capabilities as the established brands they’re looking to disrupt. That’s why we formed AUDIENCEX with the mission to empower all businesses — regardless of size — with the Omnichannel Marketing tools and services they need — and deserve — to smartly and sustainably scale.

From the time you started AudienceX, how much has the market for Programmatic media solutions evolved?

It’s evolved quite a lot. As technology has become more sophisticated, advertiser comfort with programmatic has likewise changed considerably. Every day, more marketers are exploring programmatic for the first time, and an ever-increasing share of digital budgets are being spent programmatically.

Thanks to advancements in AI, the aspiration of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is becoming a reality. Marketers are now able to reach people in the moments that matter via contextual targeting — without the presumptive confines of the device or platform-specific placements.

Thanks to improvements in brand safety controls and the realization of optimized ad fill, the pool of publishers and high-quality inventory available programmatically increases every day. Honestly, AI-driven Marketing Automation just makes sense, and we should all expect Programmatic advertising to reach critical mass across all ad formats the way it’s already taken hold in display and native.

As an AdTech CEO, how would you identify the biggest advantages and challenges in Programmatic Media technology? What role does the Data Management Platform play in making Programmatic advertising sustainable?

The greatest challenges facing Programmatic advertising today center around transparency, safety, and data. While some DSPs operate transparently and empower advertisers with insights into the factors driving campaign performance, others still operate within a black box. Every day, we speak to marketers looking for more transparency and efficacy over their campaigns. In this regard, there’s an exceptional opportunity in the self-serve space for platforms that are intuitive and robust.

With respect to safety, ad fraud will always get smarter, and combating it will always remain a challenge. The greatest opportunity lies with AI-powered solutions that can keep up with ever-advancing fraudulent actors. Blacklisting sites, categories, and keywords aren’t enough. Advertisers must demand brand safety solutions that assess a multitude of variables and can analyze content at a semantic level.

With respect to data, both quality and privacy remain challenges. Marketers and MarTech providers reliant on device IDs and other rudimentary targeting mechanics will forever be scrambling to keep up with privacy laws. As they do, countless third-party data providers are offering stop-gap solutions, but of what value is their data? Is it quality? Is it relevant? Will it actually improve campaign performance or arbitrarily stifle delivery based on inaccurate presumptions? The opportunity here lies with DSPs that are able to look beyond segments and instead optimize for the moment based on a myriad of variables.

Why retention is a big challenge for digital advertisers and publishers? How do Personalization and relevant context impact retention strategies?

Retention is a challenge because many marketers don’t have a clear or accurate view of their customer journey. Attribution models that don’t include every channel — or those that only look at first or last touch — fail to provide a full picture as to how quality customers are acquired. Marketers need — and deserve — this data to facilitate better planning and allocation of their budgets across platforms and partners.

As marketers have been turning to partners that can provide a holistic view of their digital campaigns, they have become freer to explore meaningful and effective message personalization. Today, our advertisers lean on AI-powered campaign optimizations to deliver the right creative to a given user. Taking it one step further, an increasing number of these same advertisers have been exploring dynamic creative optimization to truly deliver the ideal message based on a multitude of variables. The results from these campaigns have been quite promising, both with respect to preliminary engagement rates and conversions that lead to Sales.

The key is in leveraging true AI that can evolve with shifting consumer behaviors and expectations. Simplistic and stagnant predictive models simply don’t cut it, and marketers are increasingly turning away from platforms that can’t keep up.

What role does AudienceX play in the retention of advertising resources?

We help marketers continually optimize their spend across channels to better engage their audiences in the moments that matter and ultimately improve return on ad spend.

Every week, seasoned strategists and ad ops experts meet cross-departmentally to dig deep into campaign challenges, find opportunities, and cultivate our internal best practices that aid in improving campaign health across the board. When you couple this commitment with the AI-driven tech we’re using, it helps our advertisers not only retain resources but grow to explore new capabilities.

How do you see location data-based technology impacting Omnichannel Marketing?

The utilization of location data is becoming more sophisticated every day. Once a restrictive tactic used to binarily limit targeting, both present, and historical location data is now being weighed more openly as one of many attributes that can affect the anticipated performance of individual impressions.

In short, more advertisers are now using location data as indicators of user behaviors that may affect engagement. As location data is weighed in tandem with other contextual factors and empowered by message personalization through DCO, so we are starting to see rather sophisticated Omnichannel campaigns that are engaging users more effectively than ever before.

What are the various data sources for building a strong Audience Data platform?

The best third-party data source for a given advertiser varies greatly by vertical and campaign objectives. That said, we’ve seen the best results when marketers focus more on data quality than variety or volume. Using too many third-party data providers to limit targeting to a particular segment can likewise limit the discovery of new segments that may be interested in a brand’s message. There’s nothing quite as powerful as when first-party data is passed through to a DSP that leverages look-alike modeling and AI-driven targeting to prospect a broader audience pool.

Tell us more about your technology integration and how it can be automated with other stacks in MarTech?

AUDIENCEX is in a unique position in that we partner with enterprise-class tech providers to make their capabilities available to mid-market marketers who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them. Our exclusive partnership with Sizmek is one example of this, and we are continuing to expand with partnerships in other areas of MarTech. Stay tuned!

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth, lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition in 2018.

Our go-to strategies are rooted in our company values. We’re driven by our long-term goals, but the ever-evolving nature of advertising has taught us to expect the unexpected and stay on our toes. Beyond this, we strive to stay connected and mindful, both with one another and with our clients. Are we attentive to our clients? Are we paying attention to our own growing pains? Are we keeping up with shifting market needs? We’re continuously self-reflective and communicative, which keeps us in check and on course, even when that course shifts.

How do you mentor your product marketing and B2B commerce teams at AudienceX?

I constantly effuse our dedication to helping the mid-market and empower our teams to have the freedom to solve problems, make a difference internally and externally, and otherwise do what they do best to that end.

What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?

It’s a mix! While I regularly seek discussions with enterprise leaders whose tech I believe could make a difference and help the mid-market, I’m also frequently chatting with fellow entrepreneurs of similarly sized businesses, as their growing pains are our growing pains as well.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

Much like the clients we support, we are always exploring new tech to streamline our Sales and Marketing efforts. Currently, our teams use Salesforce and Pardot to manage our funnel.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Programmatic and Native Advertising technology for 2019-2020?

The digital media landscape has become too complex. 2019 is about simplifying the solution so that non-enterprise advertisers can feel comfortable discussing strategy.

In 2019, expect to see more marketers reducing the number of vendors in their supply chain. Marketers turning to one-stop solutions are simplifying their processes and enjoying closer communication between the various digital channels they employ, which in turn supports better scalability and adaptability.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

Our eye is more toward the enterprise-class providers that are making moves and innovations to better support a broader array of marketers. There will be more news on that front in the coming months!

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

We stay committed to constantly improving ourselves and the services we offer our clients. Improving our tech and embracing AI is simply a natural part of that commitment.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Any tech should serve to make our lives better, to help us solve real problems. I emphasize the tech’s practical applications to help the various phases of growth for our clients and ourselves. Once you can see the vision behind the tech, embracing it becomes natural.

One word that best describes how you work.

Nimble. It’s one thing to be driven and persistent toward your goals as a CEO, but you also have to be willing to adapt to changing market conditions and willing to collaborate with the smart team you’ve built. We’ve adjusted course numerous times since we’ve founded, and we’ve been able to keep growing because we — and I — have stayed nimble.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Waze. Finding an efficient way through Los Angeles traffic to your target destination is possibly more challenging than finding an efficient way to reach a target audience.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I start each day doing the 3 hardest things first. Whatever it is I don’t want to do, I do first. It keeps me honest, keeps me focused, and makes the rest of the day a breeze.

What are you currently reading?

Lately, I’ve been reading The Gift of Failure.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

That the biggest lie is the lie you tell yourself.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I’m grateful. I look at everyday as a gift, an opportunity. When you look at situations as opportunities, you’re able to take risks with less fear. Appreciation also keeps you honest.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Chris Lien @ Marin

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

Reeve is CEO and Executive Chairman of AUDIENCEX. Reeve is a successful entrepreneur and early investor in the emerging AdTech space. In addition to his principal role at AUDIENCEX he is deeply involved in bringing to market game-changing technology products for growing brands and agencies.

By the age of 25, Reeve was named First Vice-President of Salomon Brothers investment banking division and later Co-Founded Bear Industries, LLC, a prominent Southern California based real estate development firm.

audiencex logo

AUDIENCEX is an integrated advertising and marketing agency driven to empower marketers, engage audiences, and elevate advertising. Trusted by over 500 brands and agencies, AUDIENCEX is a leading provider of high performing, end-to-end campaigns for marketers of all industries, empowering them with the strategic support and innovative martech they need to effectively engage even the most elusive audiences.

AUDIENCEX is headquartered in Marina Del Rey and operates in 11 offices throughout North America, including New York, Chicago, Toronto, Dallas, and San Francisco.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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