Socialbakers CEO Talks Social Analytics, Eyes Greater Push Into Ad Tools

JanRezabAs brand marketers demand increasingly sophisticated tools to quantify the value of social media campaigns and improve performance, social analytics provider Socialbakers finds itself reaping the benefits. Headquartered in Prague with offices in New York, London and other cities, Socialbakers’s client roster includes Samsung, LVMH, Discovery and Disney.

It acquired two thousand clients within a year (after taking three years to acquire the first thousand). The company also hired Omniture alumni Neil Weston and Neil Morgan for its first COO and CMO positions, respectively. AdExchanger spoke with CEO Jan Rezab about the social analytics space and his plans to aim more products at advertisers.

AdExchanger: What’s the difference between listening and analytics?

JAN REZAB: There are a lot of listening companies like Radian6, which does some sentiment analysis, but we look primarily at social analytics and measurements. Instead of just looking at the volume of times someone mentions Coca-Cola positively, for example, we’re looking at your pages on Facebook, Twitter and other places to understand how your brand is performing, how it compares to competitors and letting you drill down into individual tweets and likes and other types of interactions.

As a Facebook PMD, what are your thoughts on Forrester analyst Nate Elliott’s report on Facebook?

Nate is a good researcher but he asked a one-sided question by focusing on customer satisfaction and not addressing volume or ROI. We’ve asked him to provide the raw data to see by function who responded to that review. It might be that Forrester is connected to more search marketers than social marketers and that’s how he came up with those conclusions. Facebook doesn’t always communicate new offerings with its partners, but they’re going in the right direction. I think Forrester seriously hurt their brand by publishing something that was as one-sided as that.

What about Elliott’s argument that Facebook is moving away from prioritizing social connections in its ad products in favor of other products like Custom Audiences?

I don’t think Facebook is moving away per se; they’re mixing the two. They’re focusing on Custom Audiences, which might seem to people that they’re not focusing on the social connections, but that’s not true. From an algorithmic perspective, they know if my friend has commented on an ad and now you have an interaction with the brand. Social connections make ads so much more relevant and this is about building smart custom audiences.

What do you think about the development of Twitter’s ad products?

They’re getting there. They have two ways of selling: through the phone and their self-serve platform, neither of which is fully ramped. The data is also lacking. Their monetization is not so good on a user-to-user level but I think it’s going to grow. We’re seeing a spike in activity from Twitter, especially from the huge enterprises.

Let’s switch gears a little. What are your plans for your new COO and CMO?

[Neil Weston and Neil Morgan] worked together at Omniture and built up a great company that Adobe bought for almost $2 billion. They’re a great team and the point here is to replicate that in social media and help us grow into a bigger company. Right now we’re at 2,000 clients and we’d like to be at 4,000 or 5,000 clients in the next 18 months. We’ve already gotten half of the Fortune 500 companies so we’re getting there.

In what direction are you taking the company? In what ways are you expanding your products?

Over the next few weeks, we’re launching our Instagram and LinkedIn analytics, so we’re going deeper in terms of platforms. We’re also launching a new interface with some PowerPoint exports that makes things easier for the marketer. For the future, we’re looking at doing a lot of things around ads.

I believe ads are an essential part of social media content. We’ll be building up our analytics expertise, doing deeper benchmarking and better integrations with more companies. We want to help our customers regardless of whether you’re a CMO, product manager or social media marketer since they each want to consume our stats in different ways.

It sounds like you’ll be competing with more enterprise companies like Salesforce.com and its Marketing Cloud.

I have nothing against Salesforce—we use their CRM system and it’s great, but we’ll be going after them. They have Radian6, but it’s a tiny portion of Salesforce’s revenue. Our expertise in analytics is something I don’t feel Salesforce, Oracle or even Google has today.

Everyone’s a social analytics player but they’re not actually a social analytics vendor. You’re a social analytics vendor if you have three components: your own data and your own metadata on top of that so you’re adding unique insights…and a team that’s big enough to execute. If you have 10 people in your tech team for example, you can’t manage the integrity of the data.

How’s your revenue?

We’ve been able to build a very solid $20 million revenue stream and we hope to more than double that by next year. We invested a little more this year than we made, but that was a conscious decision. We’re a very cash efficient company. Part of the reason is our development teams are in Europe. If we had our development teams in Silicon Valley, we wouldn’t be able to compete. I can’t be competing with Google and Facebook for talent. There are engineers there that cost $150,000 to $250,000 on average and those aren’t even the super senior programmers.

What mobile trends are you looking at?

I see people, young people especially, using more platforms at the same time. I’m talking about parallel uses of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Facebook has [acknowledged] a decline in usage among young users and part of that is because there’s an increasing usage in other platforms. This is just the beginning as mobile keeps getting faster and more “multitaskable.”

 

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