Connecting with Bill Sobel

New York City-based Rallyverse has been described as the next generation in social media networking. The company helps marketers discover, curate and share content in owned and paid social media.

More specifically, it monitors trending conversations across the social web and recommends the most relevant content for marketers in real time — creating ready-to-publish status updates, tweets and social ads in a simple, visual interface.

Joe Doran is the company's co-founder and CEO. He's a seasoned senior executive with 15 years of experience managing interactive media, advertising and social media solutions in high growth companies like Microsoft and General Mills.

The Big, Broad Universe of Content

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When Doran talks about interactive advertising, advertising technology and social media, people listen. And today, he's sharing his thoughts with us.

Sobel: Joe, you and I met when you were running Media6Degrees (M6D), an ad targeting firm that mines big data to find prospects for marketers. Forbes called it one of America's most promising companies. In September, Media6degrees rebranded itself as Dstillery. I remember you personally were best known for your work with Microsoft and now you're running Rallyverse, among other things. Can you fill in the gaps for us, as far as your past and present?

Doran: I'm an advertising and marketing technology guy. I led the early efforts to build Microsoft’s advertising technology platform across display and search advertising.

I'm most proud of the work in building Microsoft adCenter, which is now Bing Ads, from the ground up. I left Microsoft in 2008 to be the founding CEO of M6D  — now Dstillery  — where we invented social targeting and lead the social advertising revolution.  I left the company to do some angel investing and build startups likeBrightTag,Upfront Digital Media,Meteor Solutions and find the idea and start my own company with Gabe Bevilacqua. Gabe and I launched Rallyverse in January 2012.

Sobel: You're very proud that your company is New York City based. Can you compare the culture here compared to places like Silicon Valley and why a New York address is so important to you?

Doran: New York City is great. I love the energy and pace. There’s also great talent here across a broad range of functions and skill sets, from engineers and designers to sales and business development execs to customer support folks. And even better, there are lots of customers and prospects here. I can have more meetings per day with customers in New York than in any market in the US.

Sobel: Your technology at Rallyverse is described as "a content marketing platform that enables brand marketers to create, curate and share relevant content.” Can you explain that and talk a bit about your USP — your Unique Selling Proposition?

Doran: The biggest challenge for marketers in content and social marketing is creating content that’s true to their brand and in tune with the context of what’s happening. What makes this challenge especially acute is that the scale of content needed to support multiple brands and multiple social networks outpaces the human resources of most marketing teams. Essentially, there are just too many composer windows to fill and not enough people to fill them. We have a fun Slideshare on this topic, “Why Social Marketing is Hard”.

Anyway, Rallyverse helps marketers create content to fill all those composer windows. Our (software-as-a-Service) SaaS solution discovers and curates brand-relevant content based on what’s trending right now and gives marketers the tools to create and distribute content to all of their social and content networks. Typical brands produce four times more content and drive about ten times more engagement once they are on our platform, with no incremental increase in resources.

Sobel: So much has been written about content curation. Can you explain the Rallyverse solution?

Doran: Can I answer by offering another Slideshare — “What is Curation?” In terms of how Rallyverse works, we built an enterprise SaaS solution designed to meet the curation and publishing needs of brands and marketers. In practice, it means marketers can define universes of content and topics that span their own assets and then send them to approved third-party publishers, based on their strategies and goals.

We “curate” this pool of content based upon the explicit preferences of the marketers that we gather from their uses of the product, the implicit signals we gather from the engagement we see on their published posts and, most importantly, the relevancy of that content to the real time signals we mine from the social web. Essentially, we’re trying to find the most relevant content right now, filtered through what you like, what your community likes and what people are talking about more broadly.

Sobel: Isn't the term social media a bit overused, since pretty much all media has a social or interactive aspect?

Doran: I couldn’t agree more. Terms such as social media or content marketing are loaded terms with unique meanings for each client. In practice, I just use the terms that resonate with our clients and talk specifically about their problems in doing their day jobs and then build products that help them do their jobs faster and better.

Sobel: Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is just getting started in content marketing?

Doran: Go read Regis McKenna's Relationship Management, which was written in 1992. You'll realize that this trend of putting the customer in charge of your brand came before the Internet or Google or Facebook or Twitter. Then read up about content marketing — places like Rallyverse's Twitter and blog and

And then go and do it yourself. Go blog and Tweet,and post, and do it again and again. It’s the doing that will bring it all into focus.