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Tectonic Shifts That Are Happening In The Marketplace - (03:42)
One of the biggest trends we currently focus on are streaming services, especially Netflix, because data shows that Netflix is now larger than Fox on an impression basis. We also do social media influencer content and getting brands authentically integrated into content.
The Branded Placements - (05:59)
The first thing we do, we advise brands to avoid focusing on a hit show that they like, but rather on the campaign objective. The shows we watch are not always the best shows to run a marketing campaign.
Greg’s Background - (12:11)
I started my tech career at eBay and for me, that experience was eye-opening on so many levels. It opened my eyes to the power of the platform and the power of scale businesses. After eBay, I have worked for AT&T interactive and this was a more business-related role. From there I was very lucky to be recruited by the NFL, which is located in Los Angeles. I have learned a lot about sports business. Two years ago, I was recruited to work at the Branded Entertainment Network.
The Customer Segmentation and Defining Target Customers - (02:20)
We look at the categories that we think are gonna be most easily integrated. Automotive and technology categories have been working very well for us so far. Microsoft has been our client for many years now, unrelated to the Bill Gates affiliation. We have also worked with Proximo and Heineken for a long time as well.
This is typically the first segmentation that we do. We also segment by target clients, and we try to understand who the big spenders across TV and digital are.
The Business Model And What It Takes To Get Started With The BEN Group - (06:20)
The fundamental step is exploring what the brand’s goal is. Then we can start working on the right content, metrics and the rates.
For streaming, we usually focus on an impression-driven campaign at a set CPM. Once we understand the target audience, we will come up with a set budget and an impression guarantee. Our client retention rate is 93% because 99 out of 100 times we will meet or exceed expectations with the brand.
Measuring Success - (09:35)
The number one thing is awareness. We also track whether affinity changed pre and post to the integration, but also the likelihood of purchase pre and post to specific integration.
Marketing Mix - (10:40)
We have a heavy focus on targeted PR, which has been a very good channel and an outlet for us. Our collaboration is usually with the targeted outlets, most of them being business-focused ones.
Our focus are targeted events as well. We focus on the events where there are key decision makers, mainly on the brand side of things. The US is our biggest market, so we mostly target events that are happening there.
We also work with publishers on custom content.
Goals for the Company - (14:55)
We have a very good strategy of what we need to do to execute. Now we need to tackle these things and get them done.
Executing on the product roadmap and doing that in a very transparent way with the stakeholders.
The second biggest goal is on the marketing side of things which means continuing to tell the BEN story and drive awareness.
We would also like to focus on the influencer business and to make sure it gets the support it needs from a product and marketing perspective.
Long-Term Career Goals - (16:38)
For me, it's just about continuing to grow this business. Whenever I feel like I have hit a plateau in terms of personal growth, I tend to be curious about things and look for opportunities.
The Lessons Learned Along the Way and Advice for Junior-Level Marketers - (19:12)
Just walk in, listen and learn what experts have to say.
Benjamin: Okay, today we're going to hear from a brand integration expert. Greg Isaacs is the chief product and marketing officer at the Branded Entertainment Network, also known as the BEN Group. Greg has worked from amazing organizations, including eBay, AT&T, and the NFL. And in this episode, he's going to tell us what led him to the BEN Group, why large brands are moving their advertising budgets from TV to product integrations on streaming services like Netflix, and how social media influencers help some of the biggest brands in the world promote their products. Greg has an incredible talent for both marketing and product, and I'll think you'll love hearing this interview. Here's part one of my conversation with Greg Isaacs from the Branded Entertainment Network. Greg Isaacs, welcome to the Marketing Tech podcast. It's wonderful to have you here. Let's just start off by talking a little bit about what your company does.
Greg Isaacs: Well, Ben, thanks for having me. The company's called the Branded Entertainment Network or, ironically, BEN for short. And our focus is to help brands get integrated into premium content across film, television, streaming, and social media influencer content. We're fortunate enough to have some pretty amazing brands, ranging from Microsoft to Dyson to Heineken to GM to Zillow, just to name a few. And, again, we work with these brands on helping them find the right content that they should be integrated with, and then working with the content creators on getting that product seamlessly integrated.
Greg Isaacs: We're very fortunate we are a Bill Gates owned company, and so being a Bill Gates owned company, we have some very interesting technology which enables us to work with our brands on the searching, matching, and ultimately measurement pieces of our integration workflow.
Benjamin: So if I had to summarize, essentially you help what sound like relatively large brands get their products into the content that is kind of replacing TV. You mentioned it was streaming content. So if Pepsi wanted to be on the House of Cards, that's the type of thing that you do.
Greg Isaacs: Exactly. I mean, there are three, what I call, tectonic shifts that are happening in the marketplace that when we speak to brands about, they nod vigorously and understand what's happening. The first is the streaming landscape, largely driven by Netflix and Amazon, is no longer an emerging category to actually winning. We've done some proprietary analysis, since Netflix and others don't release a ton of data, that shows that Netflix is now larger than Fox on an impression basis, and over the next few years will be larger than CBS, which is the biggest broadcaster. So if you are a brand advertising on television, and you see that audiences are increasingly moving to non-ad-supported platforms like Netflix, you need to figure out how do you get in front of that audience on a pretty large scale. So that's the first trend. The second is this phenomenon around social media influencer content, which a few years ago was an emerging market, kind of a niche market, but today I'd argue in some measures it's actually even bigger than the TV landscape. And these are influencers who range in categories from gaming influences to do-it-yourself influencers, and they attract millions upon millions of users, but very engaged audiences. In fact, YouTube did a recent study that said over 45% of YouTube subscribers trust a YouTube influencer more than their best friend. And so for a brand trying to influence a purchase decision, these influencers have a large sway in influence over a consumer. So that's the second big trend. And then the third is just the idea of integration, getting brands authentically integrated into content, performs better than TV advertising. And that's not really that surprising if you think about your own behaviors or people you know. Many people don't even watch broadcast TV, but if they do, and a commercial comes on, they'll skip it because they've DVR'ed it, or they'll pick up their phones or they'll go to the bathroom. And so the efficacy of TV advertising is in decline, and integration, because you can't skip it, you can't avoid it, and if done well can be very effective. So those are the three big trends that we're certainly focusing on, and we're very fortunate because they're all happening at the same time.
Benjamin: So tell me about your role. What do you do for the BEN Group?
Greg Isaacs: So I've two main roles. My title is Chief Product and Marketing Officer. The first is on the product, so working with the product and technology teams to actually build our platform. Our platform enables a brand to search. So for example, if you are Dyson and you are looking to target a female audience, 25 to 34, across streaming platforms, focusing on comedy, our platform enables you to find that right content. Then once you've found that content, you can create a media plan. And then from there, once the integration actually occurs, we measure the performance ranging from the top of the funnel impressions, all the way down through purchase intent. So with more and more content out there today, Netflix is spending six billion a year, HBO's spending four billion. There's more and more choices than ever for consumers and more and more choices for brands to integrate into. You need technology to help you scale, find the right opportunity, and then ultimately measure the success of that. So I'm fortunate to spend a lot of time with a global team that builds our product and the user experience. And then the second part of my job is around ... Call it marketing and insight. So this is where we work across the organization to drive generation, so lead generation. We are a fairly high-touch sales-driven model. So we work with our client development team on materials and messaging and the right events and PR strategies to get the name out there. But we've also recently launched a really compelling insights program that drives unique research programs to our brands to give them really critical information around things like how big are these audiences on streaming, what are the most popular shows, what are the most binge shows, what does binging do to a brand's KPIs. And given that there aren't a lot of companies that are doing this at scale, we decided at the end of last year to launch our own research initiative, and it's been one of, I think, the most important facets we have in terms of differentiating us in the marketplace.
Benjamin: So if I had to read some of that back to you, essentially you manage the team that builds the platform that helps brands discover what content is a good fit for their target market. And then understand ... You obviously have to go reach them and do the sort of outbound marketing. It's a sales-driven model. And then you're building services to help them analyze and monitor the success and impact of those campaigns.
Greg Isaacs: Yeah, well-said. The one thing I would add to that first point was that we not only help brands find the right content. We actually measure the results of that integration and then optimize a campaign going forward, so they understand what they receive for their investment in this media.
Benjamin: Right. How does the mechanism in between where a brand says, "Okay, I want to be on this new hit streaming show on Amazon," ... I'm assuming that your company plays as an intermediary to facilitate the placement. How does that work?
Greg Isaacs: So let me answer that in a couple ways. The first thing we will do is we will advise a brand strongly, don't focus on the hit show that you may like. Focus on the campaign objective. For example, if you're launching a new product, you're trying to target a certain demographic or psychographic profile, focus on that, and then we will use our platform and technology to help find the right content opportunities. One of the things I've learned, having done this for a couple years, is that we all have a preconceived notion of going towards shows that we know, shows that we watch. And those shows aren't always the best shows to run a marketing campaign. But getting back to specifically your question, we have a content team that focuses on productions in film, TV streaming, and social media influencers. So those individuals work up and down productions, whether it's the social media creator, him or herself, the producer, the writer, the prop master, the set designer, the transportation people. Anyone who's involved in a production, we have deep relationships with. It all starts as a relationship-driven business. So once we have those relationships and nurture them, what typically happens is that we have really good understanding of what content is coming down the line. We use sources like [Variety 00:10:34] to get some of that basic information, but because we have such deep Hollywood relationships and influencer relationships, we understand the content nuances. For example, season six of House of Cards, we will have a really good sense of what the story arc is. And once we have all that, we put it into our platform, into BEN, our technology platform, so we effectively tag each piece of content that comes in. And then once we have all that data tagged and it's data-rich, this is where the technology takes over. So there's really two sides of the model. There's the working the brands, understanding what their goals are, but then working with the production and content creators, understanding what the actual content is they're producing, so we can effectively match everything in between. Now, once you have the matching of content to brands, the next step is actually getting that particular brand integrated into the piece of content. So in some cases, as I mentioned earlier, GM is a big client. So we have a warehouse in Burbank, California that has over 100 GM cars. We can get a car onset, if the production's in LA, very quickly. We also have a warehouse in Miami. But that same process goes through if it's Heineken or Dyson or some of the other brands I mentioned, we can get that product very quickly on set. So there's a logistics aspect to what we do that isn't sexy, but is very critical to making sure that, again, the product is onset very quickly and meets the production's needs.
Benjamin: While I understand you're saying that aspect of the business isn't sexy, what I'm hearing is that you can tell me what's going to happen in the season of Game of Thrones, and you have access to 100 cars throughout the entire GM lot, which sounds pretty nice.
Greg Isaacs: It is. If you can figure out a way to get Jon Snow driving a Cadillac in the last season of Game of Thrones, then I will you owe you a debt of gratitude.
Benjamin: I'll think about that. I'll think about it. Let's change gears a little. I want to ask you a little bit about your career path and what led you into this role. So walk us through the sort of story arc of your career, where did you start and how did you work your way into the Branded Entertainment Network?
Greg Isaacs: Yeah. It's a great question. I think the one thread ... Well, there's actually two threads that I think I've always had throughout my career. One is a deep interest in technology, and the second is just a general intellectual curiosity of how do you do things better, smarter, more efficiently, and do things that hopefully are somewhat game-changing. I started my tech career at eBay, as you know. And that, for me, was just extremely eye-opening on so many different levels. I think for me the thing that ... When I was at eBay, I ran the developers' program. And so for people who are listening, it was effectively marketing eBay's set of APIs to a developer community and ideally getting them to build application to make the eBay experience richer for both buyers and sellers. And the thing that really caught my attention at that particular time was the power of platform. So if you can build a platform, both economic and as well as technology, that entrepreneurs and developers can build products and businesses on top of, then you can really build a pretty amazing scale business. So that's why, for eBay at least, that role that I had was really intriguing. It opened my eyes to a lot of the power of platforms and the power of scale business. And that was a hybrid, I'd say, product business role. And then from there, I wanted to sink my teeth into more business-related roles. And so I was fortunate enough to go work for AT&T Interactive, working on their local search business. They basically had yellowpages.com, which is a very well-known brand, but I'd say a brand that both the product and the brand itself had really not been invested in. And so, effectively, when I joined as well with a few other eBay colleagues, the site was getting 20 million uniques a month, but it wasn't a very engaged audience. Most of that traffic was driven via paid search. The experience was effectively the Yellow Pages experience online. So over the next three years of working at AT&T Interactive, we rebranded yellowpages.com to yp.com. We completely redid the entire experience, so making the search more algorithmic and getting the best results to consumers. And ultimately, that helped increase organic traffic, which just means we could use some of the money we were spending on paid search towards other activities. And so that was a great lesson in terms of how challenging it is to take a brand and a product that has really not been invested in for a number of years, and the heavy lifting it takes, not just the technology, but also at the time yellowpages.com had 5,000 sales people who were very good at working with small businesses, but were focused on how to sell in a certain way. So not only was this an immediate job in revamping the product, but also around how do you actually position and sell in a unique way where you had some very powerful competitors ranging from Google to Yelp, who I think were doing things very innovative. So that was a great experience. And then from there, was fortunate enough to be recruited away to work for the NFL, which is located in Los Angeles, to basically be the GM of the digital properties. And so that included Fantasy Football, NFL.com, NFL mobile, as well as our global streaming products. From there, I understood the power of the NFL brand and how much fan avidity there was. It was really a great playground to play in, to learn about the sports business, to learn about the nuances of collective bargaining agreements, and just what it takes to build a product in, arguably, an environment that isn't a product-driven organization. And then finally was recruited away to work at BEN about two years ago. What attracted me to this business was I just loved the idea of being a differentiator and hopefully a disruptor in a really unique media landscape. And so the idea of just my own behaviors and looking how I consume media and avoided commercial advertising, it just made a ton of sense that this was an opportunity that I needed to go after. And so, again, as I mentioned here my role is focusing on building the product, which I've spent a lot of time doing, as well as creating market generation. Two years in, I think we've done some great work, but certainly we have a lot more to do.
Benjamin: It sounds like sort of earlier in your technology-based career, you're saying you understood and learned the value of the platform, left to a company that had a big brand that was essentially pivoting or needed some renovation, went to the NFL, which was a very established brand, but not necessarily a digitally-focused company. I'm assuming that you learned a little bit about the entertainment industry, which sort of led you into the Branded Entertainment Network. Is that sort of a fair arc?
Greg Isaacs: Yeah. It's a very fair point. And my first foray into entertainment itself was certainly at the NFL, and learned a tremendous amount about the power of live programming, especially live sports. And that was a great stepping stone, if you will, to the opportunity that I have now, which is very steeped in the entertainment world.
Benjamin: It's interesting. It seems that this is the challenge for you while you have Bill Gates as a backer, and the company obviously has an impressive amount of traction. You're sort of developing a brand for the first time as a marketer. Do you think of that as the new challenge for you in this role?
Greg Isaacs: Yeah, I think it's a great point. It's developing a brand, but I think at the same time it's also developing a market because although people understand product placement or product integration or brand integration, it goes by a bunch of different names, it's not a hard concept understand. I think the challenge is if you or a brand is ... You have your TV money. You have your digital. Why should I invest in this new up and coming, emerging category? So that's meaty about this is not only do we need to raise our brand visibility, which is one challenge, but at the same time as the market leader you have to convince people, convince marketers and decisions makers that this is a category worth investing in. So it's a doubly fascinating challenge for me, but the good news is that when we do meetings ... And I'm not being hyperbolic on this, but when we do meetings with virtually any brand, and I could rattle off 25 of them, when we're in the room and we talk about these trends and we show them the data that ... Again, I own proprietary data. Everyone nods. Everyone understands what's happening. So there's no one there who says, "I don't believe you," or, "I have a different point of view." It's like, "Yep, we understand this is where the world is headed." And then we show them the technology and how we can make a brand's decision-making process or an integration that much easier. They certainly embrace that as well. So I feel like we're at a really interesting juncture where it is a lot of hand-to-hand combat because to me it's like in the early days of probably search. Everyone understood what was happening, but there was a slow roll, a slow burn, if you will, of shifting dollars towards where those eyeballs are. And I think in our space, this is what's happening now as well. But again, to go back to your point, that's one of the things that's so intriguing for me, is being able to not only build the brand, but actually, at the same time build a market and, again, be recognized as the leader.
Benjamin: Okay. We're going to take a break there, and that wraps up this episode of the MarTech podcast. Thanks to Greg Isaacs for joining us. In part 2 of this interview, which we'll publish later this week, Greg is going to tell us how the BEN Group thinks about customer segmentation, about their products and marketing mix, and about the methodology of measurement behind product placement and influencer marketing. If you can't wait until our next episode and would like to learn more about the Branded Entertainment Network, go to bengroup.com, A special thanks to Searchmetrics for sponsoring this podcast. If you're looking to grow your online presence, go to searchmetrics.com to request your free tour of their platform. And if you'd like to read the transcript of this podcast, we've published it on martechpod.com. If you're a subscriber to the MarTech podcast, thank you. I want you to feel like a member of our community, so if you have any questions, comments, or if you'd like to be a guest on our show, feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com, or on Twitter @benjshapllc. We'd love for you to leave us a review in the iTunes store. If you haven't already subscribed to this podcast and you want a weekly stream of marketing and technology knowledge in your podcast feed, click the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to part two of this episode with Greg Isaacs, we've got some great episodes lined up for the next few weeks. So if you're interested in learning about topics like paid social advertising, growth hacking, and B2B marketing, hit that subscribe button.
Okay, that's it for today...
Until next time, my advice is to just focus on keeping your customers happy.
Benjamin: Welcome back to the Martech Podcast. This podcast is sponsored by Searchmetrics. Searchmetrics sets the standard for innovation and the content and search engine optimization industry. They support businesses who care about understanding how both using content as a marketing channel and how to improve their organic rank in Google. If you're an enterprise level marketer, the Searchmetric suite of software and services will help you optimize your existing content, help you understand what topics you need to cover next, and how to ensure that your writers produce effective content. Billions of Google searches happen every day. Searchmetrics gets your stories to the top.
Benjamin: Alright, today we're going to hear part two of our interview with Greg Isaacs. Greg Isaacs is a brand integration expert and the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at the Branded Entertainment Network. In the first part of this interview, Greg Isaacs walked us through his career, including various product and marketing roles at eBay, AT&T, and the NFL. And he also told us how brands use the BEN Group to move their TV advertising budgets to streaming video services like Netflix. In this episode, Greg Isaacs is going to tell us about the BEN Group's customer segmentation, their products, marketing mix, and about the measurement methodology behind product placements and influencer marketing. Here's part two of our interview with Greg Isaacs.
Benjamin: So as you're trying to build the market, how do you think about customer segmentation? You mentioned before large, what I would call enterprise level companies, are there specific segments that you go after? Who do you define as your target customers?
Greg Isaacs: We look at it a few different ways. One is, what are the categories that naturally lead to integration? So if you think about if you watch productions, whether it's action, or horror, or reality shows, daytime, late night, whatever it happens to be, what we typically look at is what are the categories that we think are gonna be most easily integrated? So automotive is a great category because by and large, most of the productions require some type of vehicle, even if it's a futuristic piece of content like Ghost In The Shell, where we worked with Honda very intimately to create a bike. There's still opportunities there. Technology's another great category, Microsoft has been a lead client, unrelated to the Bill Gates affiliation, for many, many years now.
Greg Isaacs: If you think about spirits, or alcohol, Heineken's been a client. Proximo's been a long time client. And that just goes more broadly to anything with respect to a home. When there's a piece of content that is related to the home or workplace, what kind of product categories can get integrated? So we think about it from that perspective again. And then we have some unique brands. Zillow's a client of ours, where the reality is no one, I think, very few people think about writing a piece of content with Zillow in mind, but because we have thee relationships we are able to actually get unique brands placed into sub-content.
Greg Isaacs: So that's the first segmentation we do, is around what are the categories where integration is most likely to occur at scale? And then we also look at ... we segment, at least by target clients, trying to understand who the big spenders across TV and digital, and with respect to TV we understand, okay, do they have categories or products that fit nicely into the integration opportunity space I mentioned earlier? And then with respect to digital, we also look at, again, who's investing heavily in digital, and what are the categories that might work the most successfully across the influencer space?
Greg Isaacs: So that, in a broad way, is how we actually segment our customer base.
Benjamin: Yeah, so it seems like it's a very industry-driven segmentation, and you're putting on a filter to sort of make sure the person is either spending enough in TV advertising, or they have a digital spend which they're trying to expand. So I'd imagine Zillow, being a technology-driven company, this is just off the cuff, I'm guessing that their media spend started off being very digital and online focused, and now they're trying to expand the scope to get more reach and impressions to stay top of mind as opposed to the car company, the Chevys of the world have large TV budgets, but that medium is deteriorating because of the shift in streaming.
Greg Isaacs: I think you summarized that perfectly.
Benjamin: Great, great. So tell me about your products. You have these industry-driven segmentation, you're looking for specific types of customers, do a fair amount of advertising. What are the products that you present to them?
Greg Isaacs: The beauty about what we do is that the product itself is very simple. We believe in just keeping it very straightforward and focusing on integrating brands into content. So the product, what we're selling in this case, is that access to that premium content. Again, it's unique access and there's a scarcity value there. And, again, it goes from film to TV, which I define as broadcast, streaming, and then certainly digital influencer.
Greg Isaacs: So the pitch of what we're selling is we're selling not only that access, but we're actually selling results. So when we go to a brand and say, "Look, for this investment here's what you're going to get," it's a very easy, straight line for them to understand. Okay, if I'm going to put a million dollars towards this media, these are what the results I'm expecting. And they're all organic, so at the end of the day if we over deliver the brand's happy, if we under deliver it's up to us to figure out how we can make good on that. So in a sense, we are selling a very unique but effective media channel to brands.
Benjamin: So let's unpack that a little bit, and I wanna talk about your business model. What does it take for somebody to engage with you? What are the general budgets and buy sizes? And then in exchange for that, do you count things and say you have a certain number of impressions that you deliver? Is it conversion based? Just walk me through what it takes to get started with the BEN Group, and then what are the things that you commit to?
Greg Isaacs: It's a few different ways. I think the most fundamental item we need to figure out is from the brand is what is their goal. So with respect to some brands are focused on look, I want tonnage, I wanna drive awareness. Other brands may be more direct response and so they're looking for a target CPA. So once we have a good sense of what the brand is looking for, then we basically work with them to understand the right content and ultimately what the metrics are and how they pay for it.
Greg Isaacs: So one example can be if you are typically a TV advertiser and you are looking at some of the shifts that are happening in the television advertising landscape, and you understand that streaming is important, we will most often focus on an impression-driven campaign at a set CPM. So, again, once we understand the audience that the brand is looking to target, we will come up with a set budget and then effectively an impression guarantee, which then backs into a target CPM. And so it's our job at that point to work with the brand to say, these are the content opportunities that make the most sense. If the brand doesn't want to get integrated into any piece of content they tell us upfront, and then we work with the staff in these productions to get that integration to take place.
Greg Isaacs: And then ultimately we look at the results, and 99 out of 100 times we will meet or exceed expectations with the brand. And that's why our client retention rate is about 93%, which is a great number to have. In some other cases and categories, and this could be some of our other clients who I'd say are more digitally focused, are typically more response-driven, they're typically lower down the marketing funnel. So the metrics there may be a cost per engagement if there's an Instagram campaign. It may be a CPA depending on if we do an influencer-driven campaign.
Greg Isaacs: But, again, it all just goes back to something very fundamental is what is the brand trying to achieve? And once we understand that, then we lock in the economics of a particular campaign.
Benjamin: Yeah, it makes sense. For the people that are looking for reach and exposure, doing something that is impression-level, and it sounds like you're willing to commit to a number of eyeballs and then the model becomes CPM driven for people that are looking for more targeted, probably more influencer-driven campaigns, you're able to track down to more conversion-based attribution. Does that sound fair?
Greg Isaacs: It does. And as much as we would love to get to a more, I think, conversion-based metric for the streaming and TV landscape, as you know, number one, that's a very challenging line of sight metric to get, number one. And number two, with most of this content being non-linear nature now, people watch it whenever they want to, it's really challenging to track when someone sees an integration in Orange Is The New Black or Ray Donovan to get to an actual conversion. So we do do a fair amount of research to try and draw that line of sight, but that's just a limitation, at least as of today, that certainly not only we have to manage, but the entire industry and our clients.
Benjamin: So talk to me a little bit about that type of attribution when somebody has a placement in a streaming campaign. I am GM and I want Ray Donovan to be driving Cadillacs. How are you actually measuring the success? What are the things that those types of clients look at to gauge whether this channel creates a lift or not?
Greg Isaacs: Yeah, I mean I think besides the impression piece, which is about the tonnage and the reach, if you will, the most, at least in this case of ... let's say you have an automotive brand, not speaking specifically about GM, but the most focused-on metric or metrics are the awareness. So number one, was the client aware? So that's usually ... We'll do both aided and unaided. But then also, did the affinity change pre and post to this integration? And what was the likelihood of purchase pre and post this integration? So, again, one of the ... As I mentioned at the end of last year, we launched a research capability because it was so critical to our clients and understanding how effective these integrations were, but we've relied largely on effectively surveying. And in some cases we do it ourselves, and in other cases we rely on third party tools like a Nielsen and MRI, if they track those brands. So, again, we're sort of agnostic to the data source as long as we provide our clients with the insight they need to make rational decisions moving forward.
Benjamin: Makes sense. So let's switch gears again. I think I have a good understanding how the product works and how you provide value to your customers. Let's talk about how you reach them. You mentioned that you are both managing the product and the marketing side, you mentioned before that you have a sales-driven approach. How do you think about customer acquisition, paid acquisition, organic viral? Tell us a little bit about your marketing mix, and where do your customers come from?
Greg Isaacs: Yeah, the marketing mix comes from a few different ways. And the way I view marketing's role, at least at BEN given we have a direct sales model, is to really soften the base, if you will. Sprinkle some seeds and just make sure that when our client development team is out in market they have the highest probability of success. So how do we do that?
Greg Isaacs: The first is a heavy focus on targeted PR. So we will work with targeted outlets, and this could range from business-focused outlets who often wanna talk about the advertising and content landscape, it could be focused on marketing or ad driven publishers, it could be also focused on content driven publishers, again, and depending on who the publisher is, we generally have the same message. The three big trends I talked about earlier, but weighted towards if it's a more ad driven publisher we'll weight more toward the decisions the brands need to go through in the space, versus if it's a more content driven publisher we may focus more time on specifically how a production should be thinking about integration and how they should be thinking about working with brands. So a lot of that is PR, and that's been a very good channel and outlet for us.
Greg Isaacs: The second is targeted events. There are more events than we could possibly hit in a year, so our model is let's focus on events where there are key decision makers, mainly on the brand side of things. Let's focus on events that are tend to be more intimate in nature, and focus on events where we can have a thought leadership position and not necessarily an attendance only. So we built a little scoring system to understand what those events are, every time we go to event we rank it to decide if it's something we're gonna do in the future. But it's a very event-driven strategy mainly in the US, but certainly in some cases we will do events outside of the US, for example our content team was just in Edinburgh for the film festival there. So that's the second one.
Greg Isaacs: And then third is we do work with publishers on custom content. So we just are in the process right now of doing a very interesting series with the drum around storytelling and the importance of that to marketers. And we interviewed, I think it's been six right now, I think the target's probably 8 to 10 of leading storytellers, whether they're prop masters, or producers, or executives at studios to talk about, again, the importance of brands and working with brands, and helping them move the story forward. So in those particular cases, we'll work very closely with the publisher on creating unique custom content, and then ultimately measuring that success. So those are the marketing channels we work on.
Greg Isaacs: And then internally we spend a lot of time honing the message, honing our look and feel, and creating materials that are used out in market. And that manifests itself in a few different ways. The first way is our website, which we will be revamping over the next couple of months, but we did a refresh of that a few months ago just to help portray and exude the image of BEN. But then also the materials that we work with our client development team on to make sure that they're helping tell the story in a consistent manner, but also one that represents the passion and the importance of entertainment to any marketer. So that's the second.
Greg Isaacs: And the last piece is we do do select paid search, it's a very efficient driven campaign, again, for certain key words, but in terms of our marketing mix really the first two is the bulk of where we spend our time with respect to a PR driven strategy as well as an event driven strategy.
Benjamin: So if I had to summarize, it seems like the majority of your marketing mix is focused around sort of building awareness using PR, meeting your prospective clients, and presenting your authority through events, creating some content through the publisher relationships, and then you sprinkle in a little bit of paid acquisition through SEM for the people that are actively searching for your types of products. Not a lot of organic content driven growth, and not a lot of viral distribution.
Benjamin: Do you find that your customers talk about your products? Or is this sort of a secret recipe they hold close to the vest?
Greg Isaacs: Well we'd love them to talk about it more, but ultimately, as I mentioned, we have a 93% client retention rate so that's the ultimate metric we really care about. But our clients, they're very happy, but with some exceptions I think they do view it as a little bit of a secret sauce for them. So we do work with them on the right opportunities to speak and they have done a few of those, but, again, I think most of them like to keep it a little bit close as a strategic asset that they have.
Benjamin: Makes sense. So tell me about your goals for the company. Personally what are the things that you're trying to achieve sort of in the immediate term and then the long-term view for marketing for this company?
Greg Isaacs: I think the nice thing about the company is that we have a very good strategy of what we need to do to execute. And so now it's just about the blocking and tackling of getting those things done. Personally for me, it's about continuing to make sure on the product side we have a fairly robust roadmap over the next 12 months, which we had the privilege of walking Bill Gates through, so that was a great meeting and he gave us some really invaluable feedback on the product. But it's executing on that product roadmap and doing it in a way that's very transparent with all the key stakeholders internal and externally. So that's the first thing.
Greg Isaacs: The second thing is on the marketing side is just continuing to tell the BEN story, but also the broader brand integration story in the marketplace to continue to drive awareness. And certainly the rising tide will lift all boats, but being the leader in the category we believe we can take the lion's share of that market opportunity. So that will happen just with good old fashioned blocking and tackling of continuing to execute on the strategy I mentioned to you earlier.
Greg Isaacs: And then I think the third is just one area that for us has been very powerful and continuing to focus on is this influencer business, which I can't get into details of how quickly it's growing, but I'd say it's a great segment for us. And just making sure that part of the business continues to get the support it needs from a product and marketing perspective. And over the last six months or so we've really, I think, done some good work in terms of focusing the business not only historically, which is mainly a TV and film integration business, but is now very much including the influencer business as well.
Benjamin: And how about on a personal level? Tell me a little bit about your longer term career goals. It sounds like you're two years into working for BEN, and it seems like your intent is to be there for a while, but for someone who is the CMO and CPO, what are the next steps in the career and what are the skills you're trying to develop?
Greg Isaacs: Yeah, I mean for me it's just about continuing to grow this business. I think the one thing is, at least for me personally, when you feel like you've hit a plateau in terms of the market growth, or just your own personal growth, I always tend to be curious about things, look for different opportunities, but I think here in particular what's fascinating is we're at the very early stages of a very interesting opportunity, and I'm fairly data driven. And so one data point that I always like to look at, if you think about the integration market, if you will, so if you think about every TV show that could have an integration and you think about how may integrations could occur in a typical one hour episode, there could be 10 to 20 that feel real. And if you think about a typical show might have 10 to 15 episodes, and you multiply that times the number of original pieces of content, the reality is there's a lot of available inventory for integrations.
Greg Isaacs: But today, our view is that that market penetration, again, we think we're the leader, but there are other players in the space that do this. The penetration's about 2%. So there's 98% market potential here that I would like to see us capture. So that's certainly not going to happen in the next year, but the trends are all heading in the right direction.
Greg Isaacs: So for me personally, I'd like to see the fulfillment of this business getting to a place where when a marketer thinks about where they should be investing their dollars, they are thinking about three options. They're thinking about TV, 'cause that's still a huge market, $70 billion that's not going away anytime soon, they think of digital, and the third leg of that stool, so to speak, is integration.
Greg Isaacs: So right now we are still a fairly niche and small part of that marketing budget, but over the next few years I'm optimistic and I would like to see it through where we actually become on par with a consideration set. And if you think about digital, meaning it's been 20 plus years and digital's now roughly as big as TV advertising, so we're only in the second year of this, or third year of this, so we have some time, but I would certainly like to see us get to a place we're in the consideration set of the TV and digital budgets.
Benjamin: It seems like there's lots of green grass ahead of you.
Greg Isaacs: That's right, lots of it.
Benjamin: Yeah. So last question for you. If there are people that are learning marinating and are just hearing about this channel for the first time, just hearing your story, what are some of the lessons that you've learned along the way that you'd like to pass on to people that are junior level marketers?
Greg Isaacs: Well, I would say the first thing is to not walk in with any preconceived notions, because I think in general and this is just ... will serve people well, is just to walk in, and learn, and listen to what the experts have to say. And so I think with the integration space it's a really intriguing opportunity, but I think the one thing that marketers need to understand, it's a very different kind of buy than they're historically used to.
Greg Isaacs: So, and you know this as a marketer, you generally have a tremendous amount of control, whether it's on TV or on digital. You create the creative, you figure out the audience you'd like to go after, and you know with a high degree of confidence this is when something's gonna run, at least with TV advertising. And with digital you have a good sense ... every minute of when an impression is happening and who's seeing it. With the integration business, you're ceding control to the creators and you have to trust, and we have a lot of, I'd say, processes and procedures to make sure that the brand is never impaired, and again we have some pretty large brands who continue to work with us, but you're ceding control to the content creator. And your ability to dictate when your product gets integrated and how it gets integrated is pretty minimal. And so you have to trust in the content creators, and ultimately you have to trust in BEN to help us help the brand navigate that.
Benjamin: Well, Greg Isaacs, I really appreciate you making the time, I think this is really insightful, and it's a unique and sounds like clearly a growing channel, so thanks for sharing your expertise with us.
Greg Isaacs: Well, Ben, thanks for having me. Happy to be on your podcast.
Benjamin: Okay. That wraps up this episode of the Martech Podcast. Thanks again to Greg Isaacs for joining us. If you'd like to learn more about the branded Entertainment Network, go to bengroup.com. B E N G R O U P dot com. A special thanks to our sponsors, Searchmetrics. If you are looking to grow your online presence go to searchmetrics.com to request your free tour of their platform. If you'd like to read the transcript of this podcast, we've published it on martechpod.com, and if you're a subscriber to the Martech Podcast, thank you very much. We want you to feel like a member of our community, so if you have questions, comments, or you'd like to be a guest on the show, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter. My handle is @benjshapllc. We'd love for you to leave us a review in the iTunes store, and if you haven't subscribed yet and you want a weekly stream of marketing technology knowledge in your podcast feed, we've got some great episodes lined up for you in the next few weeks.
Benjamin: Next week we're going to be talking about paid social advertising for one of my favorite companies. Go ahead and click that subscribe button if you'd like that to be in your feed.
Benjamin: Okay, that's it for today. But until next time, my advice is to just focus on keeping your customers happy.