Eric Bader made company history last summer when he became the first CMO at San Francisco-based RadiumOne, a firm that builds software to automate media buying. Bader has been around the advertising block, so to speak. He's a veteran of adland, a community weblog and advertising archive, and has worked at Ogilvy & Mather, MediaVest, BrandinHand and Initiative, where he was chief strategy officer from 2010 to 2012.
But that's not all, folks: He's also CEO and founder of a startup called Mobilize, which creates, hosts and manages mobile applications and web sites for various customer interactions — from merchandising and transactions to CRM, loyalty programs, in-store and shopper marketing and promotions, social marketing and events.
But his main task now, according to a story in AdWeek last summer, is to explain RadiumOne's "value proposition in a crowded marketplace of startups that claim to be able to spin social data into gold for marketers."
Connecting Customers and Brands
Sobel: Tell me a bit about your career in media, marketing and advertising — and what you have learned about consumers and brands along the way.
Bader: My greatest interest in marketing is the relationship between the consumer and the brand. Although my career has spanned advertising, media, digital strategy, mobile and ad-technology, every role I’ve played has focused on the mechanics and dynamics of that relationship. I've been trying to lead brands into the newest media to determine how they can make a profitable business model and build consumer relationships.
Mobile is a good example. Around 2007, it was becoming clear that consumers were interacting with brands via mobile and devices were adapting to consumer behaviors – less about talking, more about computing and discovering information. That’s entirely new territory for brands, so a partner and I started BrandinHand, a mobile marketing company, to help brands navigate what was a very messy and hard-to-understand business opportunity.
Sobel: Let's dig a bit deeper into your experience launching BrandinHand, ”one of the first full-service mobile marketing and media company that serves global brand marketers, partners with agencies, and assists emerging media companies.” Tell us about that, as well as your reasons for leaving.
Bader: My partner, John Hadl, and I started BrandinHand because marketers were underserved in mobile media buying and mobile strategy. We knew the principles of brand and direct marketing could be applied to the ways consumers were behaving with devices – at home, “out-and-about” and at retail. We knew that brands wanted to understand how to help, reach and build relationships with consumers in contexts, times and locations that had not been as well served by other available media.
In 2010 John and I agreed mobile media planning and buying should and could be integrated by agencies into their digital planning and buying. A specialty agency wasn’t what brand marketers needed anymore. We sold BrandinHand to a digital agency that needed a mobile media capability. We honestly never expected it to live more than a few years, but it was necessary during the gap when no one else was addressing these marketing problems and opportunities.
Sobel: Back in 2009, you told me “mobile marketing is about mobile consumers, not devices. Some marketers view mobile too narrowly." Moving the clock ahead to 2014, is this statement still true?
Bader: The good news is that many marketers have advanced their understanding of mobile and are starting to invest in reaching mobile consumers with more money and well-integrated programs.
Like all marketing, mobile can sometimes devolve into a series of separate tactics – “we have a Twitter handle, we run mobile news feed ads on Facebook, we buy mobile advertising from an ad network.” But there is a lot of attention paid to mobile inside marketing departments now and there are some very progressive branded apps and mobile programs that provide great consumer experiences.
Sobel: How does RadiumOne "increase the relevance and personalization of ads," as it states on its website?
Bader: I’ve known RadiumOne for a number of years. I was an outside advisor before I joined full-time last June. I joined because RadiumOne provides outstanding software that changes the economics and the outcomes for brand marketers. We automate media buying and can find a brand’s next customer very efficiently and with less media waste.
The intelligence comes from proprietary data that we access from consumer sharing. On web sites that are running our software, we can track the URL’s, articles, media, etc. that are shared via email, Facebook, Twitter and others. That act of sharing tells us a lot about who’s in the market for a product or a category.
We can serve an ad to that (anonymous) user and the people he/she shared with and others just like them in milliseconds on a variety of media – online, video, social and mobile. Our performance analysis shows that 80 percent of all conversions happen within the first day that a consumer is exposed to a digital ad – especially when they’ve indicated that they’re interested in the brand, product or category. And of that 80 percent, the highest rates of conversion happen within the first hour. The performance that we’re delivering to marketers is remarkable and this “programmatic” advertising is where all digital spending is moving. Good place to be, right?
Sobel: Many ad technology companies are leaving Silicon Valley for New York City's Silicon Alley. But after almost 50 years in New York City, you and your family are making the opposite move and moving to San Francisco. Why?
Bader: Our move is not a rejection of New York. I’m a born and bred New Yorker – my family has been in the New York City area for 115 years -- and I will miss it. San Francisco is still every bit as exciting an environment for ad tech, advertising and start-ups, so I can be there for the lifestyle and still do what I love. I agree Silicon Alley is thriving right now, but I’m moving to a place that’s just as fertile.
Sobel: Any tips or thoughts for people looking to connect with new digital audiences?
Bader: Watch as programmatic advertising extends to TV, radio, print and out-of-home. The efficiency, cost-effectiveness and accuracy is going to continue to be amazing.