TechBytes with Christopher Mohs, VP Strategy and Ops at Cora + Krist

TechBytes with Christopher Mohs, VP Strategy and Ops, Cora + Krist
TechBytes with Christopher Mohs, VP Strategy and Ops, Cora + Krist

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Cora + Krist.

As the VP of Strategy and Operations, I’m tasked with leading our strategic approaches to Digital Marketing deployment for our clients. We are a very data-driven agency and have made a name for ourselves by adopting the latest technologies to drive Marketing Automation, AI, and Machine Learning, among other tactics. We do all this to further understand how audiences are interacting with the brands and products we are representing.

What is the current definition of Mobile Advertising?

We see Mobile Advertising in a holistic sense. It’s the act of marketing to consumers on-the-go. Really this encompasses not just what is on a consumer’s smartphone (although that’s highly important) but leveraging that data we are receiving to better understand where our client’s audiences are at when out and about.

Where should outdoor advertising be placed? What podcasts are our consumers listening to when driving to work? We ask these types of questions to better understand exactly what the mobility behavior of our consumers is and how can we naturally integrate our messages into those daily activities.

What are the most ROI-friendly/ sales-friendly Digital Advertising formats that small businesses should focus on?

Most small businesses that we encounter have a fairly local geographic area. When it comes to local targeting, paid search and social advertising are still very effective. The key is to micro-segment and hone messaging in on unique messages that are highly relevant to the consumer’s present life needs.

Aside from paid opportunities, small businesses should focus organic efforts on building a quality, segmented email list, using retargeting advertising both with digital display and social retargeting. Popular review sites are also key and engaging with your best customers to push reviews across multiple platforms only helps your visibility.

Small businesses shouldn’t underestimate the power of Search Engine Optimization. It’s a huge effort push, but if you have a data-focused agency partner, they can help you analyze the market to identify a content gap that you can weave into, gaining exposure and authority, and then pivot to more lucrative keywords you want to rank for. Further, don’t underestimate the benefits of a great public relations team. Cora+Krist has a PR partner that is absolutely dynamic with consistent placements in high-quality publications that not only lend brand cache for our clients but also noticeable bumps in search rankings.

How is Cora + Krist transforming the way modern brands do online and Mobile Advertising?

At the core, we are taking that data-driven approach. We make recommendations for our clients based on a myriad of data points to understand what their competitors are gaining traction on, what the gaps in the marketplace are, and what tactics will best position our clients to take advantage of those gaps.

Sometimes the engagement is merely elevating a brand and adjusting messaging slightly to distinctly address a market gap. Sometimes we take a big step back with a client and completely reimagine their business concept. But in every case, we are deploying multiple data touch points and using that information to inform ad placement decisions, messaging, creative, and more.

How is the US Digital marketplace different from European, APAC and North American market?

The big difference now is regulatory. With the implementation of GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation) out of the European Union, businesses with a consumer presence in the EU need to be aware of these regulations. In the U.S. these have not been adopted yet, however many larger corporations have voluntarily adopted the EU regulations, so they have a globally consistent approach. This is driving consumer expectations and, in turn, having an impact on what small businesses need to consider.

In general, we always recommend deploying the standards outlined by the EU for data protection as it helps build consumer confidence in the brand. There are some downfalls in data loss, however, most consumers don’t act on the “right to be forgotten” but like knowing that if they choose to opt out of messaging and marketing activities at some point, they can.

What are the biggest challenges you face in advertising? How do you leverage technology to surf these challenging ecosystems?

The biggest challenge we see is businesses failing to take the necessary foundational steps for success. If your brand, messaging, and marketing infrastructure (website, an email database, social integrations, etc.) aren’t on point, you’ll always struggle to get traction in your marketing efforts. This results in a lot of wasteful spending and often a downward spiral of “not enough money” to make the changes required down the road when you’re stuck.

This is why we deploy extensive infrastructure audits leveraging complex analysis technologies to really understand the heath of a business’s infrastructure and the health of their competitors’ infrastructure. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the market gap that is revealed through this process that informs where efforts and investments will have the biggest bang for the buck.

What is your opinion on Google Advertising versus Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads)?

In general, these platforms are very similar. Google is favored simply due to the enormous market share that Google commands in the search space. As mentioned earlier, the key to succeeding here is avoiding broad, generic, and globally targeted searches and focus more on micro-segments in confined geo-targeted locales. Think of your product, made for “audience A”, now available in “city B”. It’s that level of targeting and messaging that yields the most success.

Be careful though, not paying attention to smaller search providers such as Bing, Yahoo, and now DuckDuckGo can be a big mistake as rates are largely more competitive in these search engines and these smaller search providers do account for about 8% of the search market and that is growing as consumers seek more privacy-centric options.

What is your prediction on the disruptive application of AI-solutions in Video and Social Media advertising campaigns? How do these applications impact Localized Programmatic platforms?

I would have to say that presently, AI solutions are quite expensive for the average small business and largely in their infancy. We do see some early evidence that tracking these efforts through third-party analytics solutions, such as Google Analytics is not straightforward and yields conflicting insights.

With that said, the micro-targeting aspects that I mentioned earlier, which are critical to marketing success, become much easier when AI is integrated correctly into the system. It automates a process that takes a great deal of bandwidth to create manually today. AI also allows us to drive hyper-targeted messages to consumers in real-time, something that is near impossible without it. For instance, if we know that you are at the grocery store, we could trigger an email, SMS message, or perhaps a push notification on an affinity app on your mobile device with coupons or promotions.

In general, Artificial Intelligence, as it matures and grows, will create a whole new bastion of tactical opportunities to reach consumers in more intimate and relevant ways. Businesses should be keeping an eye on these emerging technologies and engaging with agencies that can help them deploy in a way that is meaningful for their business objectives.

Christopher Mohs is the Founder and VP Strategy of Cora+Krist. For over 16 years, Mohs has been strategizing and deploying digital marketing initiatives for some of the world’s most well-known brands. But his real passion is what these advanced digital tactics can do for small businesses. He founded Cora+Krist in order to give small businesses access to big-brand marketing capabilities.

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