Please tell us about your current role and technology you handle.
I am Chief Product Officer for Vericast which includes Valassis solutions. I am responsible for the strategic direction and execution of all our digital products and solutions. This includes our tech platform, Illumis™ as well as all of the solutions across our Display Advertising suite from Mobile, CTV, Influencer and more.
How much of your roles and responsibilities evolved through the pandemic crisis? What did you learn from these months?
During the pandemic, our entire team’s roles evolved and I was amazed by the flexibility and innovation shown from our talented group of product managers, engineers and data scientists. Our clients’ needs changed drastically and we were able to meet them in the moment with quick adaption of our products to their needs. That included new ways to target and reach consumers and flexibility in our offerings. Many of our clients were significantly impacted by the pandemic (SMB, Retail, Restaurant) and our goal was to help as much as possible during this difficult time.
Any advice for your CTO colleagues in the industry? Tell us more about a CTO’s remote workplace technology stack.
As the pandemic shocked the world, technologists were in a position to quickly adapt their work and workstyles, given the nature of our work. Our team was already distributed with members working in various offices via Zoom on a daily basis and utilizing collaboration tools. Shifting to work-from-home offices was relatively easy, given our practices, and allowed us to better accommodate family needs and provide the flexibility to navigate unchartered waters. The speed with which we could adapt certainly reiterated the investment we had made into our technology stack.
Tell us what it means to be part of the revolution in omnichannel marketing during the post-COVID-19 era?
The past year was truly revolutionary. With Covid-19, we saw both a rapid rise in ecommerce trends in new industries as well as a renaissance of direct mail and the importance of the mailbox. In the post-COVID-19 era, brands will need to activate campaigns against a more holistic view of the consumer – identifying where they’ve been, where they are, and where they plan to go. By applying multiple marketing tactics such as digital media, direct mail, inserts, and (eventually) in-person displays, brands can drive awareness across different touchpoints. A brand’s current and potential group of consumers will include varying responses to different marketing approaches. Omnichannel programs give marketers the flexibility to reach and resonate with each target audience member in way that’s timely and relevant for them, and ultimately convert that interested audience.
How much have AI/ML influenced the adoption of omnichannel services? Any prominent case study you would like to discuss here for our audience?
The pandemic caused consumers to develop new patterns and engage with new channels and experiences – making it more challenging for marketers to establish personalized connections and react to quickly to changing consumer interests. That said, marketers need to lean into predictive intelligence and insights to determine the right media (whether that be print, digital, or both) to best connect with their target audience.
Your predictions for AI-based consumer insights and how CMOs can benefit from these insights?
Google and Apple have led an industry-wide clapback for transparency and data privacy. Looking ahead, it’s reasonable to assume other tech companies will put similar measures in place to further reduce user signals. Fewer precise data points from cookies and mobile device IDs means marketers will engage fewer consumers on a one-to-one or known basis. Instead, marketing teams will need to leverage advanced machine learning models and other probabilistic techniques to reach high-value audiences who look like your known customer base, maximizing scale.
Thank you for answering all our questions!
Michelle Engle is a Chief Product Officer at Vericast
Vericast is a leading marketing solutions company, delivering actionable insights and expertise through its Valassis and Harland Clarke omnichannel solutions, to help more than 70,000 businesses engage with their customers. Every day, Vericast influences purchasing and transaction behavior of more than 120 million households – impacting where they eat, shop, buy, save and borrow.
Vericast, previously known as Harland Clarke Holdings, is a premier marketing solutions company that accelerates profitable revenue growth for the 70,000 businesses it serves directly by influencing consumer purchasing and transaction behavior at scale through engagement with over 120 million households daily. Its major business units, Valassis, Harland Clarke, RetailMeNot, and QuickPivot are recognized as leading providers of incentive advertising, marketing services, transaction solutions, customer data and cross-channel management, and intelligent media delivery that create millions of customer touch points annually for their clients.