Hi Ken, from Analyst to becoming a CEO – How did you plan your transition through the Dotcom era to the modern AI era?
I really had no plan. Just jumped-in with two feet. Through all of my companies, I’ve focused on two main things: service and creative. By keeping the most important aspects of Advertising simple, we’ve been able to easily adapt as technology has evolved. Service and creativity will never be second to technology. AI, ML, etc really go hand-in-hand with services and creative.
Tell us a bit more about your ‘superpower’ and how you use it to positively influence your team at MobileFuse.
My “superpower” comes from not raising capital and not having a Board. By not having to answer to anyone else, I can focus on our people and products. As a result, our team focuses on what’s right for the long term and not being forced to take shortcuts.
What are the most exciting Adtech formats/models that are worth exploring today?
For years, creative was easier to execute across the web environment. Now, almost all creative types can be executed across the app ecosystem, which is awesome since the time spent by consumers across apps is 85% of all internet time spent.
Also, most marketers don’t realize how much video is consumed in the app ecosystem. This is a widely untapped, enormous opportunity to make real connections with consumers/audiences.
Where do you see the whole TV advertising marketplace moving to, in the next 3-4 years?
At some point, we will see consumers only willing to pay a subscription for a few apps (Netflix, Amazon, Disney, etc). So, the other subscription options will have to either fold or add advertising models. The TV dollars have to go somewhere, and I predict most of this will go to video across mobile apps.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Hotstar, and a bunch of Video streaming platforms have disrupted the Video market. Do you like the way consumers are adopting these brands?
I do. The competition across all of these platforms results in better content for consumers. And, any time that consumers win, new models emerge around those wins.
COVID-19 is a global wrecker. How has it impacted your business? How do you cope with it?
Brands have pulled back on their advertising spend, but we are already seeing a bounce back — particularly because we are in the mobile space, fortunately. Most consumers are only spending time on TV and mobile, and mobile is the easiest way to adjust messaging and deliver it to consumers in a timely manner.
Businesses are suffering heavily due to coronavirus pandemic. Those who have a Martech/Adtech stack or an Enterprise Automation solution, may not face the brunt of the business hardships. Do you agree?
I agree and don’t agree. Over the last few years, SaaS models (annual/repeatable contracts) proved to be what almost every Martech/Adtech company wanted to evolve into. These companies invested heavily in Marketing and Sales to accomplish this business transition.
Because of COVID-19, and as all costs are reassessed, companies will not enter into long term contracts. They will only pay for what they need, and only as long as they continue seeing value. So, Martech/Adtech companies that deliver continual positive ROI will thrive in the long run.
The Olympics have been postponed. Many events and conferences have been canceled. Normalcy looks beyond speculation now. Which Advertising verticals will be hit particularly hard from this move?
Unfortunately, the airline and hotel industries will be hardest hit economically, and it’s difficult to see a way for them to navigate out of the “new normal.”
Only the cash-strong airlines and hotels will survive, and consumers will end up paying more since the hotel/airline capacity will reduce.
Sixth sense: The Future of an AdTech CEO – Your take on the reengineering of customer relationship model for Adtech, based on your experience with AI, Business Intelligence, Smart Assistants for Sales, and numerous other tech applications!
Future customer relationships will become more personal. Instead of just relying on platforms and data for execution, we will see service, creative, and strategy become essential to all advertising.
One superhuman character you closely relate to in real life –
I can’t relate to them, but I admire all healthcare professionals and see them as heroes. I’d also include healthcare professionals’ families as heroes.
Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to read here:
Barry Frey, CEO of the DPAA
Kenneth M. Harlan is Co – Founder & Chief Executive Officer of MobileFuse.
MobileFuse is Ken’s third successful advertising company, with his secret ingredient being his focus on customizing client solutions.
MobileFuse is a leading, mobile-first advertising company focused on delivering real-time insights and results to agencies and brands. Through cutting-edge analytics, precision targeting capabilities, and sophisticated proprietary technologies, MobileFuse delivers unique and impactful campaigns for our clients. With a presence across the country, this New York-based company is 100% focused on customer service and exceeding client expectations.
Our culture was baked in mobile from the moment Ken and Val decided to start a company focused on mobile advertising. Today the entire team of “MFusers” are mobile advertising experts. The company is filled with energy that fuels our understanding of mobile technologies and how they relate to advertising with data. Early on we realized that mobile technologies will change rapidly, thus our approach was to build a strong foundation that can be flexible with those shifts and integrate them quickly whether those technologies are internal or through partnerships.