In the hotseat… with Toby Gabriner, President of AdRoll

08 Aug 2017

  • Thought leadership
  • Marketing Technology

By: Alicia Tan, Managing Editor, ADMA

When it comes to all things Martech, it’s safe to say that AdRoll’s Toby Gabriner is the best person to speak to with his wealth of experience in the subject. Recently in town to sit on a Mumbrella360 panel discussing the convergence of Martech and Adtech, we put Gabriner in the hotseat to answer five of our most pressing questions.

In a recent interview with CMO, you talked about simplifying Martech. What do you mean by that and how do you intend to do that?
Marketers today face a dizzying array of marketing, advertising and data technologies.  From DMPs to DSPs to Marketing Automation to ESPs to Push Notification Platforms to... well the list goes on and on. The promise of better targeting and efficiencies due to the digitisation of media has become a nightmare of managing non-interoperable systems that often create more complexity and headache than results. These systems are often not connected to each other thus making it difficult to leverage a marketer's most valuable asset, their data, across the various channels that a marketer operates. There is a great need and opportunity to provide marketers with a tech stack that works seamlessly across channels and easily integrates and moves data across the various "tools" utilised by a marketer. This is where AdRoll comes in, we are intensely focused on simplifying marketing technology to power growth for our customers.

With so many Martech solutions available right now, marketers are struggling to keep up with trends and rushing to implement them – what are your thoughts on this and what do you think are ways marketers can work around this issue?
Marketers need to start with the problem they are trying to solve and understand how the various technologies can assist in achieving their goal.  Additionally, if the potential solve requires multiple technologies it is critical to focus on interoperability. Lastly, I think it is important to try and understand “where the puck is going” and set-up a technology framework that allows for flexibility.  As we all know, our industry moves incredibly fast and new solutions are introduced constantly. It is important to ensure that your technology stack is not structured in such a way that you can’t continue to evolve and leverage new solutions.

A Gartner survey in 2012 said that by 2017, CMOs will be spending more on IT than CIOs. What’s your predictions for the future of Martech?
I think there are two major trends we should be thinking about over the next few years as it pertains to Martech: Unification and the emergence of Systems of Intelligence.

As more and more budgets have shifted to digital over the past 10 years, there has been an ensuing or parallel rush towards the development of innovative technologies. The digitisation of media and, thus, advertising opens up a massive universe of possibilities and innovative entrepreneurs continue to invent technologies and platforms that are supposed to help marketers better understand, target and ultimately convert consumers for their products. This rush to innovate, however, has created a fragmented set of technologies that often don’t work in concert with one another which can diminish the intended or desired impact of leveraging these platforms and tools. Most marketers are fed up with this confusing matrix of solutions and are looking for consolidated or unified platforms that simplify their lives.

Paralleling the desire for unification is the strong desire by marketers for their activity in various channels to work in a much more automated and impactful manner.  Increasingly, marketers are able to glean insightful data and attribution across the various digital channels they operate but there is no automated, intelligent mechanism that enables real-time allocation of budget across these channels nor pricing against various targeted segments. In short, there is no System of Intelligence and I believe this will be the next wave of innovative development in our sector.

Now with the industry abuzz with the issue of ad fraud and brand safety, what are your thoughts on the future of programmatic? What can we as an industry do to win trust back?
Clearly this is an area that the industry must continue to focus on and develop solutions to combat.  The primary issue here is that there is no single source of truth that accurately tracks every impression. What makes the internet so powerful and pervasive, decentralisation, happens to be the characteristic that enables fraud to exist so pervasively in online advertising. The good news is that there are some very interesting developments to create a foundation of trust and visibility including the use of blockchain technology as a single source of truth.  

Let’s talk about growth. What are some of your tips for growing/scaling a business?
I tend to focus on four areas:

  1. Identify blue ocean opportunities you can win
  2. Clearly identify the customer problem you are trying to solve
  3. Remain maniacally focused on solving that problem
  4. Hire great people
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