MarTech Interview with Bob Ciccone, EVP of Corporate Development at NetBase Quid

Bob Ciccone, EVP of Corporate Development at NetBase Quid chats about today’s evolving marketing trends while discussing more on what marketers need to do to boost their multichannel presence:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Bob, take us through your career and tell us a little about the journey of NetBase Quid…

I have been in business software for a long time with a constant focus on the newer problems and unmet needs driving technology evolution. Nothing has stayed the same in this regard, ever. I am ancient because I started as a COBOL programmer typing punch cards on mainframe computers so I push myself to stay current. I am still surprised how fast technology evolves. I love how leading brands are always pushing the technology envelope for advantages in strategic growth, efficiency and lifetime customer loyalty. My journey here started at NetBase. We have seen the same rapid pace of change leading us through giant leaps forward and now some key mergers. NetBase and Quid merged in January, 2020 because we each shared similar visions from inception but started in different places. The vision was always to apply AI techniques to bring insights from aggregating consumer/customer digital conversations to brands and the agencies that serve them. NetBase started in social listening to create real-time insights from the high volumes of posting across all public social networks. Quid started by harvesting unstructured data from industry sources (e.g., patient and doctor commentary) and public news, patents and business filings. We came together to combine these complementary capabilities as an analytics suite to serve our common vision which we now express as “we make the world make sense”.

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We’d love to hear more about NetBase Quid’s acquisition of Rival IQ and how that now changes the game for the core offering by the brand? How will this impact the end user and the social media industry?

Rival IQ brings another complementary capability to our suite with a keen focus on analyzing social handles to report normalized performance metrics on and across specific brands. For example, a new movie from our studio clients has handles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok similarly to all major brands having a multi-site presence. Rival IQ tracks the brands’ own posting and public response on activities that happen on their brand handles to show how various media performs and provides a competitive benchmarking across customizable landscapes. This is commonly referred to as “owned” media. Bringing Rival IQ into our suite now provides the best coverage of “owned and earned” media analytics together.

When it comes to social media and brands today, what are some core trends that you feel are helping drive engagement, on the other hand, what should marketers be doing more of to build value and engagement with social media?

Brands have the products to help them execute. The newer trends are driven by the need for data. The explosion of the digital world has driven brands from formerly feeling they lack data to now feeling they risk having too much data to make sense of it.

Martech is evolving quickly to harness key insights that are derived from massive amounts of data. In other words, brands now say give me the insights to act on, not “the data”, because the data points coming from social and digital media happen in overwhelming volumes. We see top diversified companies matching digital conversations that generate many millions of posts, comments and media shares every month on each of their named product brands. This is why AI techniques are now crucial to analyzing this data in an automated way that gives each brand customized, relevant and timely insights. We believe it is now essential for every brand to have a ‘deep listening’ analytics capability as part of their broader Martech automation platforms.

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As the number of online channels keep growing, how do you feel marketers need to revisit how they double down on the most impactful ones and what marketing technologies and social media systems should they be putting in place?

Brands need to manage their presence on multiple social networks and other digital channels because consumers want to be met where they are. The brands’ strategy is not about which social networks to choose but instead how to best harness all of them optimally with different tactics and spending in each. Most social networks provide tools to help with this but of course these tools work only within each particular social network and have no value across sites. Brands and their agencies need tools to best optimize end-to-end activities across social networks. The technology landscape has evolved to ‘best of breed’ vendor suites to help with analytics, engagement and advertising. This is why we see the focus on analytics as evolving so quickly because brands and agencies need help everyday to make sense of the huge volumes of digital conversations that can be understood only if aggregated by automated means. Brands can employ an analytics platform across different needs in all departments for insights into brand heath, product innovation, campaign tracking, crisis management, category analysis, customer loyalty and so on. 

A few thoughts on how you feel martech as a segment will move in 2022?

The segment will continue to evolve towards complete suites for particular purposes. No one vendor will be able to solve all problems so the brands and their agencies will benefit from specialized vendor focus and increasing end-to-end coverage of particular needs. The technology tools here started as marketing automation and are now evolving to business solutions that span strategy, innovation, marketing, operations and customer experience. We believe industries with large online presences will adopt multiple categories of technologies for broader enterprise deployment.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital marketing and martech thoughts, tips and best practices before we wrap up!

The pandemic created an even greater urgency for brands to be listening in to their core audiences, and they’ll need to continue to be just as vigilant as the world begins to return to a sense of “normalcy.” For example, NetBase Quid’s recent personal care product report in partnership with Twitter found that consumers are starting to revisit personal care and hygiene routines now that they’re beginning to return to the office, school, and gatherings with family and friends. These post-quarantine shoppers are more critical, questioning the value, effectiveness, and composition of their personal products. Understanding the social media conversations, sentiment, rate of trending topics, demographic breakdowns, among other characteristics and sub-topics, will be important for these brands to act upon to stay relevant and front of mind to consumers.

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NetBase Quid delivers AI-powered consumer and market intelligence to enable business reinvention in a noisy and unpredictable world.

Bob Ciccone is EVP of Corporate Development at NetBase Quid responsible for strategy, partnerships and M&A. Bob has almost 40 years of experience leading technology companies that serve blue chip enterprise customers. Prior to NetBase Quid, Bob served as an Industry Solutions VP at Hewlett-Packard. His other roles included CEO of Cydelity, an online fraud detection solution vendor, EVP and COO of ArcSight, VP at EDS/ATKearney focusing on strategic consulting, a VP at Oracle and originally a practitioner of systems development and integration.

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