Martech Interview with Dave Atchison

This interview of CEO Dave Atchison by Sudipto Ghosh was originally posted on MarTech Series on April 8, 2019.

Originally published

August 24, 2020

Written by

Jacob TallyJacob Tally

Product Marketing & Operations

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to start this company?

I have been on the brand side for most of my career, focusing on digital marketing and martech activities for 13 years. Over the years it was disappointing to see that as you scale marketing, efficiency declines as a direct result. There are two main reasons for this: 1) the return on ad spend began to diminish across the breadth of channels and 2) as you build out an organization and peoples’ connections, more errors happen. A manually run system opens up the risk for human error, whether it is a miscommunication or mismanagement. For instance, someone could change a bid and the organization accidentally spends much more than was intended. I saw this, as well as an increase in fragmentation, happening across multiple channels that increased the competitor market and I knew this meant technology was needed to help organizations expand and scale marketing.

I believe that without technology an organization won’t have the necessary tools to succeed. I was previously SVP of Marketing at zulily and incorporated technology in order to grow the business. I was responsible for aggressive growth through email, affiliate/partner marketing, SEM, SEO, viral marketing and social networking. In five years zulily grew from a startup to IPO, then was acquired by QVC for $2.4 billion.

Without technology an organization won’t have the necessary tools to succeed.

Since you started your company, how much has the digital marketing paradigm changed?

The digital marketing paradigm is always changing. It is one of the reasons why Justin Hayashi, Jean-Guy Speton and I created our company. Our objective was to build a company whose entire premise and mission is to reinvent ourselves and technology, because we have seen firsthand that it will change and update itself. Most organizations will experience a hard time adopting the technology curve as it constantly changes. An organization can always be better, more precise and efficient, but you can’t define when the next bend or cliff will take place.

Since we started, we continue to see a pressure on marketing agencies to show transparency for data and work. I am seeing this primarily within the programmatic space because margins are high. With that, there has been an increase of in-sourcing activity, organizations taking the bulk of their marketing in-house. Organizations are starting to want more control over marketing activity. This is our motivation to develop new options that will answer the demand of marketers.

Organizations are starting to want more control over marketing activity.

Which Marketing technologies are you excited about trying and working with in 2019-2020?

Jove is thought of as a holistic platform and we are always tweaking and exploring better options for expanding our technology offerings. For the next year, I am interested in adding additional channels and combining all channels where a digital marketer can find new customers. At Jove we search for technology enhancements that will ultimately make marketers' lives easier and elevate them to make better decisions.

How do you prepare your company for the complex digital marketing challenges?

A company is only as good as its team. I am a strong believer in that when it comes to our staff. At the end of the day, it is about the players and not the plays. In business there will always be challenges. We prepare by hiring, nurturing and training the best employees to constantly challenge one another and pay attention to what is changing in the space. We encourage our employees to have courage and feel empowered to change what we are doing to improve our work. One of the only differentiators a company has in the long term are its employees.

A company is only as good as its team.

What role does Jove play in sales acceleration processes?

Within the B2B universe, it can be a long arc for an organization selling a new analytics system or attribution to go from education, to lead, to nurture, to influence and finally to the contract. Jove helps customers along that arc to understand when and how much they should spend on every individual client or lead and ultimately to get individuals to come back to the site or remind them of the value proposition to accelerate the sales process and finalize the sales cycle.

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth, lessons learned through period of massive shift and transition in 2018.

First is to hire good people and second is to organize correctly. It is important to evolve and change your organization setup over time to better enable people. We have internal teams and some employees whose entire job is to help other people. How you set up structure to enable people to perform at their best is a key strategy. Invest in the proper tools and build the infrastructure that can adapt to changes in the future so an organization and its team can constantly evolve.

How do you mentor your product marketing and B2B commerce teams?

As CEO, your job is to mentor and support everyone at the company. My job is to make sure everyone else can do theirs, and they feel enabled to do great work. I also spend a fair bit of time challenging assumptions and our current thinking, so we can be confident in our path forward.

What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?

Every time I talk to someone, I learn something. Keeping a dialogue across the board is important. I am still active on sales calls and meet with current and prospective clients. I don’t have a specific network I go to because I am constantly discussing marketing and technology with everyone I connect to. What keeps it current is not the specific network, it is the collective from everyone as it evolves over time.

Which marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

I am currently using Salesforce and of course, Jove.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in marketing technologies for 2019?

There are a few areas that I think will be key disruptors over the next year. A lot of spend on Amazon has been from brands that sell through retailers. It’s unclear how much spend they previously did with Google and Facebook, but it’s not as high of a concentration as DTC brands. Amazon is clearly investing heavily into this space and we should see more improvements to their APIs and advertising tools. This will pave the way for more third party sellers to use Amazon to find more new customers. This should really start to roll out next year and should start to impact Facebook and Google in a meaningful way by 2020.

I also see advertising on social messaging apps growing. Users use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger purely to communicate. It’s not a platform for browsing. You go straight into your chat, type your message, send, and then exit out. To disrupt that flow is challenging. I see WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger adding more value by providing more robust targeting data points for Facebook/Instagram. Conversations, photos, videos, link shares – all those things can tell you a lot about who the user is, who the user interacts with, and what’s most relevant to them.

I see advertising on social messaging apps growing.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

I watch any technology that is involved in the expansion of channels, division of ad budget to channels, efficiency of attribution and incremental dollars, and any company that is working to figure out how to solve inexpensively and dynamically.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

At Jove, we embrace it and figure out how to make it work for us. There are many benefits, and sometimes the cost is too great (privacy, for instance), so understand what trade-offs are acceptable will become more and more important.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

We are a company built on the mission to improve automation activity for marketers through technology. We hire good people whose passion is to develop the best technology to benefit an organization. We create a friendly work environment that encourages teams to work together and collaborate that directly impacts motivation.

One word that best describes how you work.

Collaboratively.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My shared iCal calendar with my wife, Ring, Excel and big (multiple) monitors for viewing a lot of things at once.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, then stop. Find a way to make it go away or be done much faster whether that is with Excel shortcuts or through reading emails. For instance, I tell my company that my super power is an ability to read an unlimited number of emails. I never receive too many and want to see/read them all. I have not found my limit yet.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?

I read a lot, but mainly business articles and journals. Bad Blood was a recent book. Sapiens is still one of my favorite books of all time.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Follow the people, not the money. The money will always come by working with the best people.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

It always comes down to the people. At Jove we always hire the best in the industry whose motivation and drive match our own. Aligning with like minded people who share the similar goals makes for a successful business.

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, last updated on

September 7, 2020

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