Jonathan Symonds is the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Ace Metrix, a television and video analytics company dedicated to delivering better, faster, and more cost-effective solutions for evaluating video advertising within competitive context. The Makegood recently spoke with Symonds about Ace Metrix’s record growth in 2013.
The Makegood: Congratulations on Ace Metrix’s record growth over the past year. As Executive VP of Marketing, what role did you and your team play in the company’s stunning growth?
The role of marketing in a startup is really quite diverse but fundamentally we focus on driving the top end of the sales funnel for the Ace Metrix. That sales funnel starts with market awareness of what we do as a company, how that is disruptive and innovative and how our platform and products can drive business results for our clients. Telling those stories at scale is where we contributed to our growth in 2013. We continue to refine and revisit our methods, but ultimately, we are deeply committed to a content marketing approach – telling stories about our data. We tell those stories day in an day out, from emails to prospects, blog content, thought leadership, seasonal programs like the Olympics, Super Bowl and the Holiday shopping season and our awards programs. This content allows us to talk about our data, how to apply it and how it can impact our clients. The better we are at that phase of marketing, the easier it is for our sales team to turn prospects into clients.
The Makegood: Ace Metrix is considered a new standard in television and video analytics. To what would you attribute the company’s recent growth? Are there any processes, factors, or services that were particularly beneficial to the company and vital to its growth?
Ace Metrix is fundamentally a technology company and the technology that we have developed has been highly disruptive in the market research field. This has fueled our growth. Our technical acumen enables us to score every single national breaking ad – not just those of our clients. This changes the game considerably as we now possess more knowledge about the effectiveness of video advertising than any other company in the space. We know what messages work in automotive – and why. We know what messages work with different demographics in fast food and the role that advertising length plays in that category. There are a countless number of other examples that come from the more than 6,000 ads we score every year – but they are all dependent on the technology platform that produces the data. The stories get the news, but the technology deserves the credit and the company continues to invest aggressively to democratize the data through its interface and availability on mobile devices as well as continually mine the data and introduce new measures that enable advertisers to understand what they can do to improve and enhance their advertising. The best part is that we are just getting started. 2014 will see the company really hit the accelerator in terms of product innovation and new markets.
The Makegood: Ace Metrix allows its clients to leverage and act on insights gathered during the stages of a campaign. Why do you believe that this approach is more successful than a client having dictated instructions or decisions made for them? Does this approach give Ace Metrix a great competitive advantage?
The democratization of data within and across a brand’s advertising ecosystem is a fundamental premise of the company. We are very focused on producing actionable and comparable data within hours of an ad breaking so that clients (brand teams and research teams) and their agency partners (both creative and media) can make the appropriate adjustments – before the campaign has run its course. The enabling technology for that to happen is our user interface. Having a cloud-based application enables any of the interested parties to get at our data, share that data and see that data together, in real time. For too long, the valuable information associated with an ad or campaign’s performance, and the learning that came with that were locked down in excel or powerpoint. That data is now accessible – 24/7 and that provides the clients with extraordinary freedom to action that data and build it into their increasingly realtime processes. Having said that, Ace Metrix has a world class client services organization capable of working with clients on a number of fronts – but philosophically, we are a technology-driven data company with a client services layer, not a client services company that gathers data. Insofar as a competitive advantage, it depends on the sophistication of the client – the smarter and more sophisticated they are, the more they are drawn to Ace Metrix because the data set is so rich and offers so many possibilities. Moving forward, however, as more pressure is put on research budgets, we are confident that our approach is the only one that is truly viable.
The Makegood: Could you elaborate on the different kinds of metrics the company uses? Why are the Ace Score and the Emotional Sentiment Index the metrics of choice?
I think what makes Ace Metrix so interesting to our clients and competitors alike, is our ability to deliver insight at such scale and speed.
The Ace Score is powerful because of its simplicity and its comparability. All 30,000 ads have an Ace Score and can be compared to one another. That alone is revolutionary. While the Ace Score is the flagship score for the company and has been from its inception, we have always exposed the component parts of that score: Persuasion which is comprised of Attention, Likeability, Change, Relevance, Desire and Information, and Watchability which is a measure of future viewing. Those components can in turn be crossed against any of the demographic combinations that a marketer may want to build. That flexibility is what makes the platform so valuable to the advertising ecosystem. The Ace Score has risen in prominence due to the fact that it is so highly validated against any number of measures – from other approaches, to in-market performance, to creative awards. Still we have clients who have found even greater predictive results by looking at specific components that reflect their unique advertising challenges. A great example is a packaged goods company that focuses on the Information and Likeability components because they found that those two elements drove the effectiveness of recipe ads – something that represents the majority of their advertising. They still use the Ace Score, but they pay closest attention to the components that are most meaningful to their strategy.
Emotional Sentiment is a relatively new metric for us, but one that we were able to apply retroactively to all 30,000 ads in our database because of the fact that we have always collected qualitative data along with the quantitative elements. This provided a large set of verbatim data that we could apply text analytics against to accurately determine emotional sentiment – something our clients wanted us to measure more specifically. Emotion is key to storytelling – but it is not the same as the Ace Score, statistically or otherwise. That is what makes it one of our flagship metrics – it measures something unique from the consumer that is different from what we get quantitatively. Interestingly, this focus on text analytics has prompted us to use that technology to assess humor and meaningfulness, thereby creating the foundation for new metrics yet to be announced. The area of text analytics represents a real opportunity for us to continue to grow our portfolio of metrics and to do so in a methodologically sound fashion unlike so many of the social listening platforms in the marketplace today.
The Makegood: Do you see the company further expanding in the future? Do you think Ace Metrix can maintain its momentum and surpass even more of the competition?
We really like the way the market is shaping up for us in 2014. We have already notched some key milestones and we are still in January. These milestones include new vertical markets, which we will be announcing in February, new media agency clients which represent a critical new use case for our data and a suite of new products and platform capabilities slated for the first half of the year. Each of these milestones will dramatically enhance our ability to grow our client base, expand our existing client relationships and generate new revenue streams.
The Makegood: Thank you, Jonathan.