Yoav Izhar-Prato is CEO of Kenshoo, a digital marketing software company focused on search engine marketing and online advertising.
AdExchanger.com: Beyond search marketing, in what other channels is Kenshoo buying today? What will you be adding in the future?
YIP: Local has been a primary focus for Kenshoo for many years. We made the strategic decision to turn the Kenshoo platform and algorithms “upside down” and give advertisers and agencies a way to holistically manage huge numbers of profiles and identities vs. singular accounts.
Kenshoo was founded on the fundamentals of optimizing the most valuable online channels; and the two most promising channels outside of search for our customers are social and display.
Powering the world’s biggest online players, Kenshoo has been an active pioneer in pushing the envelope when it comes to social advertising. Social provides some of the most advanced, robust and rich targeting available, and – between Facebook and Twitter – all the buying power our customers need exists in those networks. The missing piece is intent and this is where Kenshoo’s dominance in search, along with deep inventory integration, plays a key role for our customers.
Kenshoo is also very active in display and search retargeting. A select group of our customers are conducting robust programs that leverage cross-channel online strategies through Kenshoo’s unique capabilities and we plan to broaden the offering according to market needs.
How is PC-based display advertising impacting Kenshoo's business and where do you see this going?
The digital world is maturing and getting more sophisticated and these facts play very well into the demand for Kenshoo’s offering – technology to holistically optimize, reduce barriers to entry and improve results.
Display, like search, is finally becoming result-driven and closed-loop tracked. Therefore, unique features and intellectual property deployed in search will be well utilized in this emerging market. Mobile devices, iPads, PCs and soon televisions all provide mediums in which display will continue to become increasingly like search.
Please discuss the attribution modeling capabilities you have today for marketers. Do they work cross-channel? Even online/offline?
Since the early days, Kenshoo’s goals have always been to tap the right channels to achieve the best results for our customers. Search is king for intent. Social rules for targeting. Display and content dominate for awareness and traffic.
Kenshoo regularly conducts projects with leading blue chip partners around the world in the areas of multichannel measurement and attribution. The models at work in Kenshoo provide marketers with unsurpassed abilities to attribute credit where credit is due across large scale multichannel campaigns, including offline activity.
You recently announced the Kenshoo Enterprise platform. Do you think there is any similarity between it and a trading desk or demand-side platform?
All of Kenshoo’s solutions follow a healthy, genuine approach of driving value for our customers. The platform approach was put in place to make sure we encapsulate all customer needs specific to the different campaign sets and track and attribute according to unique business goals. Whether goals are pure ROI or branding, the multi-layer approach with its robust set of algorithms and bots, introduces a game-changing offering. To call it a trading desk or DSP is underselling. Kenshoo Enterprise is a full-blown digital marketing software platform.
Are you enabling your clients to use third-party data like BlueKai and eXelate? What performance are you seeing?
Yes, but we rarely put these integrations in place. Kenshoo has been involved in retargeting for some time. We have affirmed and believe intent is king with search and, as such, have millions of those data points to process daily while also tracking the funnel of impressions/clicks and post-click activity when needed.
Who is your core target today in terms of clients? How do you want this target market to evolve in the future?
Advertisers, agencies and marketing providers use the Kenshoo Enterprise and Kenshoo Local suites to direct more than $15 billion in online sales revenue. The majority of Kenshoo’s business comes from customers managing budgets in excess of $1 million per month or keyword portfolios with more than 5 million keywords.
Among its core target, Kenshoo taps two segments of the industry within all verticals:
- Enterprise – high-end top global advertisers and top global media companies
- Local – top SMB aggregators and verticals needing the local dimension (automotive, travel, retail stores, franchises etc.)
How are you dealing with creative for the client across digital channels? Any in-house solutions or plans here?
Kenshoo has long identified the need around this area and provides a wide range of options to customers. Dynamic content and creative for search and social is done through the Kenshoo platform alongside a truly unique system that incorporates customer real-time inventory and other parameters.
Is Kenshoo profitable? Any plans to expand Kenshoo's footprint?
Kenshoo speaks very little about itself as part of our mantra: “It’s is all about the value we bring to our customers.” Internally, we run a tight ship operation, and we constantly meet our goals for high gross margins and break-even metrics.
Being seasoned and somewhat mature, Kenshoo never took investment because we had to. It was always about building something new from a technology standpoint.
Kenshoo is unique in the fact that most of the company is based around technology and sales, with marketing efforts started just last year. Kenshoo’s early and ongoing organic growth ensures a healthy company for the years ahead.
Today we proudly power five of the top ten global retailers and eight of the top ten global ad agency networks, as well as some of the most influential and sophisticated Internet properties around the world. Nevertheless, we keep pushing the envelope to its limits.
Being an engineering power house and a SaaS company, Kenshoo looks to build solutions rather than just throw bodies at them. Scaling has happened in a natural and healthy manner.
Are you concerned that Kenshoo is in a line of business which could become quickly commoditized? How will you differentiate?
It’s a question every CEO has to ask himself every day. The only way to avoid collision from tailgaters driving commoditization these days is to move forward and move fast. We live in an age in which things happen fast. This is what we signed up for and what motivates us. Some companies talk market share and sell off-the-shelf offerings on price, but we decided to build around value, while making sure we deliver (and charge) against it.
The bottom-line results we drive will always set Kenshoo apart. We make more money for our customers than any solution out there and create efficiencies like no other with $15 billion in annual sales revenue flowing through the Kenshoo platform. During the past holiday season, Kenshoo delivered an ROI of 10:1 on average. Top performers achieved just below 20:1. That means an average of more than $10 realized at scale for every dollar our customers spent online, while the campaign managers were on vacation! With those kinds of numbers, we feel good about the future and what we represent while staying humble.
Looking ahead - how much of the buying done through Kenshoo's platform is related to paid search? How much will it be a year from now?
Kenshoo’s platform and the buying it facilitates, directly corresponds with our customers’ online spending. Although we don’t release specific numbers in this area, most of our customers still focus the bulk of their online spending on the proven channel of paid search. There is, however, an undeniable shift toward performance-based display and social media buys, and we expect this trend to continue.
Beyond changes in cross-channel media spend, Kenshoo regularly launches new offerings to address key needs in this industry. Whenever we do, we make sure the value is crystal clear and launch reliable, scalable solutions. A good example is our newest product, Watchdog. Together with top global Internet retailers, we built a robust and unique landing page “Watchdog” that monitors URLs. It recently helped one top retailer spot $120,000 in wasted ad spend from broken links in the first week, which equated to $250,000 in lost potential sales revenue.
Other big things are being deployed and coded as we speak, and my goal is to always remain humble and over-deliver.