Co-Founder and CTO at Pressboard
Europe enacted GDPR earlier this year, which saw several MarTech platforms exiting the market due to the restrictive nature of the laws and onerous methods of compliance. In this context, we spoke to Tiam Korki, Co-Founder and CTO, Pressboard, to understand how he sees the American market for content marketing platforms competing with the APAC and Europe.
Tell us about your role at Pressboard and the team/technology you handle.
I co-founded Pressboard 4.5 years ago with my business partner, Jerrid Grimm. At the time, he oversaw sales for a few digital publications that were all monetizing through display advertising. Social and mobile had already begun to disrupt online publishing, and everyone from brands to the publishing industry was looking for new growth opportunities.
That’s when a few of his clients asked to run more editorial-style stories on their publications in a paid format. It turns out stories are a powerful way of connecting with your audience, and publishers are great at telling stories.
Incidentally, the process of pairing up brands with publishers, producing the content, publishing and acquiring reads is a time-consuming and expensive affair. He had demand from clients to run more of these campaigns, but they took too long and cost too much. That’s where I come in. I like to build tech that empowers people. We started building a product to operationalize as much of the cumbersome work it took to give brands a voice on some of the most iconic platforms that customers trust. Today, an entrepreneur with a grand vision can have that story published on VentureBeat, The Verge, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, even Wall Street Journal, and read by over 20,000 readers guaranteed, within a week.
How does your technology empower marketing teams to work with the best content?
At Pressboard, we’re interested in the science of storytelling. That involves everything from the dopamine that bonds us to our favorite characters to the terabytes of data we analyze every day on the patterns of engagement we see across our network of publishers. In fact, we’re so interested in this that we recently conducted a study where we measured the brainwaves of over 30 people as they watched a branded video we produced for Toyota to see where and how the audience best connected with the content.
When it comes to our platform, we’ve built a complete set of rich analytics tools, with metrics such as depth of scroll and actual time spent with a story, so that brands can see how their stories are resonating with potential customers. Our tech solutions also include the less interesting but equally important end-to-end integrations with other marketing automation platforms, so we can effectively re-engage a customer once they’ve read a story and funnel them to an opportunity.
What are the biggest challenges for content marketing teams in reaching new audiences?
Earned media used to and still plays a big role in most content marketing strategies, however, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to attain.
Being truly newsworthy is rare. Brands that attract that kind of media attention have put in their dues and are rewarded with the interest and curiosity of journalists and readers.
The rest of us still have our stories to tell and customers to attract, which is why sponsored content is such a unique product. Fast Company and Wall Street Journal are still powerful purveyors of credible stories that can instantly elevate a brand. The most important thing is to have these stories heard and not be deterred by the tactics. At the end of the day, whether they’re paid or earned, the best stories will stand out.
How do the brand safety standards disrupt content reach?
In my opinion, the best place to distribute content is on social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter where the brand has the furthest reach, most control, surgical targeting and accountability.
We’re still going through this phase where several display networks started shoehorning content inside display ads and calling it native; their main selling proposition is distributing your stories. The challenge is, the web is rampant with fraud, bots and inappropriate content, with no transparency or accountability. We see this every day in our analytics where audiences that we acquire from Facebook and LinkedIn are considerably more engaged and spend longer with a piece of content than audiences we acquire through third-party networks. In my view, getting the right content in front of the right audience has never been easier or faster, but it has come at the cost of a more open and democratic web.
What does your product roadmap/content marketing technology blueprint look like for 2018-2022?
As cliché as this sounds, it includes a lot of AI. We’re building tools that empower brands and publishers to write the most engaging content that connects with the right audience at the right time and the right place. That’s a lot easier said than done, but we’ve already made progress to that end. We’re doing natural language processing and sentiment analysis paired with time spent and viewability of stories (as well as a hundred other data points) to understand simple things like when to mention a brand and get the best results. Additionally, we plan to continue to invest in operationalizing and standardizing as much of the content marketing workflow as possible, to foster a new and growing opportunity for our network of publishers and brands who want to buy and promote content at scale.
How do you see the American market for content marketing platforms competing with the APAC and Europe?
We’re starting to see a lot more attention paid to privacy and protecting consumer rights online. Europe enacted GDPR earlier this year, which saw several MarTech platforms exiting the market due to the restrictive nature of the laws and onerous methods of compliance. We’re seeing similar regulations propagating across the globe, where governments want to wrestle control of their data from private corporations and assert their sovereignty in the process. This will have obvious ramifications for companies and platforms that have built their business by learning as much as they can about their users and monetizing that data through advertising.
The American market has thus far resisted too much government oversight and regulation, but considering the 2016 election and the whole Facebook saga, I think it’s only a matter of time. With this in mind, it’s best for marketing platforms to adjust themselves to what’s happening in Europe in preparation for what will probably prove to be the future of data privacy everywhere.
Which other markets excite you the most in growing the reach of your content for ad sales platform?
Right now, we’re heavily focused on North America as we see an enormous opportunity in an industry that’s still in its infancy. We’ve also been investing in this space long enough that we now have a fully self-serve and highly functional software that any publisher and any brand or agency can use, regardless of their location. We’ll go where there’s demand for content and where brands want a more scalable and accountable way to amplify their stories.
How do you work with AI and automation technologies at Pressboard?
I think I jumped the gun a little earlier by talking about AI in the context of our roadmap. AI, or to be more specific, machine learning and big data, are one of a handful of generational technology leaps that will revolutionize every industry. At Pressboard, we have significant amounts of data and we’re continuously investing in machine learning. We want to draw better insights that empower our publishers and brands to tell more engaging stories that turn into opportunities and do it in a measurable way.
Thanks for chatting with us, Tiam.
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