Wes Nichols is CEO of Marketshare, a provider of predictive models and software for marketing.
AdExchanger.com: What is the problem MarketShare solves today?
WN: The problem MarketShare solves is actually an age-old one made even more complex with the digital era: where and how should I invest to drive sales for my company? I’m not talking about yesterday’s media mix models, or even ‘black box’ algorithms that are considered too risky by most marketers. MarketShare has developed an analytics platform that successfully leverages big data via forward-looking, predictive models that cover all levers that a company controls to move the revenue needle. Any number of variables that have a big (or small) impact on their ability to create long and short term value for their company. MarketShare has created and deployed the only cross-media and cross-channel analytics platform capable of helping business navigate the 21st Century consumer.
As you can imagine, the volume of data is growing geometrically. The ‘noise’ from this data is making it even more challenging to know what is truly working, versus generating false positives. This is why many of the traditional modeling and experimental techniques aren’t working like they used to – the world is simply more complex and consumers aren’t behaving like they used to. MarketShare helps our clients make sense of it all to extract predictive insights - insights they can turn into action - from the noise.
Globalization is another real issue. Everyone operates in a hyper-competitive environment where the decisions need to be accurate, fast and smart. Analytics have moved in the past 3 years from ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have’. The ability to identify what activities actually drives revenue, and then optimizing those activities, has now become a strategic, competitive weapon, and companies are selecting MarketShare over boutiques, consulting firms or ad agencies as they are confident we have the most transparent, robust and predictive platform available.
Companies not leveraging the latest in analytics – not methods from the 80s or 90s, but from this decade – are putting themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage as the world has never been more complex.
Can you discuss the target market for your product line today?
We have a significant, and growing, addressable market –companies seeking to improve the economic return from their investments through accurate, easy-to-understand, and objective measurement solutions. We’ve seen significant demand from the Fortune 200, and lately growth from the Global 2000. In fact, one of our partners, IBM, estimates the analytics, optimization and commerce space a $70 billion opportunity.
Our client roster is building at a quick pace -- and our client relationships are also getting deeper. The acquisition of MarketingNPV enables us to meet demand and help clients stay ahead of the pace of change through innovative strategic frameworks for accountability.
Is there a place for brand awareness marketers as opposed to direct response marketers with MarketShare?
Interestingly, MarketShare has numerous companies that would be described as ‘brand-centered’ as well as clients who are ‘transaction-centered’. The common denominator is a hunger for improved results, regardless of how they drive revenue.
We are seeing an enormous spike in demand from brand-centered companies tired of using overly simplistic measurement methods. They want to move beyond survey panels, or media mix models, and get much more advanced. I had a meeting today with a global insurance company who is bringing MarketShare in to their business to create ‘version 2.0’ of their analytics. We are hearing that frequently.
The transactionally-oriented companies obviously live or die through accountability; our ability to take an already fine-tuned business and still find 10, 20, 30% improvements is usually a shock to them as they figured they were already optimized, using direct methods or digital analytics. However, the traditional direct response or interactive metrics only tell a short-term, partial picture; we fix the attribution problem we often come across and our software we install then becomes the new platform for attribution.
What's the difference between "descriptive" and "prescriptive" analytics? Why is this important to the Company?
Descriptive analytics are what companies have been doing for 20 years – simple correlations between media and sales. Starting in packaged goods, and expanding to retail, this is where we are seeing the most frustration with the status quo. These models have not kept up with the times, and as we see this migration from ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have’, companies are wanting v2.0 solutions. Solutions that look beyond simply media, and look at the entire ecosystem, social media, cross-channel and the like. MarketShare has created the only truly ‘prescriptive’ analytics platform –analytics that are so accurate that they are actually predictive, and very actionable (and prescriptive – what you should do next to reach certain goals). Our analytics platform allows for rapid ‘course correction’ based on the ecosystem, driven by hundreds of variables and drivers (not simply media).
How has the JovianData acquisition been integrated into MarketShare? Any results that you can report?
I’ve been involved in numerous acquisitions, and this has been by far the smoothest transition. The Jovian team is amazing, and has jumped right in to things. MarketShare acquired JovianDATA last August to expand the breadth of our marketing resource allocation modeling capabilities, and to accelerate the speed and efficiency of data handling on behalf of our clients.
The MarketingNPV acquisition we just announced enables our continued improvement in these areas, including some very interesting products that MarketingNPV had created for global portfolio strategy and analytic frameworks for global companies. The team from MarketingNPV is continuing to operate as its own brand, with its own clients, with synergies wherever they make sense for our clients.
What are examples of the datasets you use to attribute value to marketing tactics?
We analyze hundreds of datasets to help clients attribute value to marketing tactics and make better, faster marketing resource allocation decisions. There are a lot of shiny new toys in marketing metrics – engagement metrics, loyalty metrics, cross-channel lift metrics, pass-along metrics -- and some are helpful on a tactical level.
But the most important new metrics are the old metrics: revenue, market share, EPS, share valuation. These are the metrics that CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs are ultimately most concerned about -- and they are the people who are making the decisions about how to deploy marketing analytics within their companies. There is a shift in the business from eyeballs to outcomes, and I’m proud to say that MarketShare has been the company driving that shift.
What are the important factors in creating attribution models which can be predictive of future outcomes?
A client told me the other day that he thought MarketShare had assembled the “Manhattan Project” of marketing scientists to finally solve some serious challenges, and I believe this is the case. I know of no other gathering of such industry thought leaders and marketing scientists on the planet, and the results include algorithms and methods to solve attribution in the 21st Century, as well as to deploy in easy-to-use software that brings predictability and optimization to the fingertips – laptops, PDAs, etc. – of our clients.
A year from now, what milestones would you like the company to have accomplished?
Our business grew significantly last year, and we are on track to do the same this year. Our automation platform allows for significant scale as well as on-the-fly insights and course correction across all forms of marketing, sales and promotion. Driving as much share growth and ubiquity of our platform is ultimately our goal and very important to our clients, who benefit from that market strength. The MarketShare analytics platform has recently influenced the allocation of over $100 billion in marketing and promotional spending globally, and that influence will only further expand this year.
Our key objective for 2011 is to ensure that our clients are getting the maximum value from our analytics platform. It isn’t just about deploying the platform and analytic results; we have to help make sure the solutions are deployed and leveraged internally. The tangible result is improvement in revenue and increased optimization of marketing and sales resources.
We are best known for our industry-leading innovation, and that will continue to garner significant investment. With the world changing as rapidly as it is, methods and approaches are quickly outdated. MarketShare has been able to keep ahead of this by aggressively exploring the latest in marketing science and technology.
As the shift continues from ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have’, MarketShare’s clients will be very well served by an analytics platform that is considered best in class and constantly adapting to the market changes. We are in the first inning of an entirely new game -- MarketShare is fueling the shift towards fact-based marketing and optimization. When you marry this with creativity, innovation and social media, you have the tools necessary to connect with the consumer of the 21st century, as well as compete in a global economy.