You’ve probably seen quite a few headlines lately about consolidation in the advertising technology industry. So it might surprise you to hear that between January 2014 and January 2015, the number of players in the advertising/marketing tech sector nearly doubled—from 947 companies to 1,876 companies. How can 1,876 companies each capture a distinct part of the market and position themselves for success?
With so many actors in the space, it’s more important than ever for companies to define what they stand for and what value they bring to their customers. They must break through the clutter and provide clarity around what they do, how they do it, and why they are even doing it. Here are a few things that are top of mind for AppNexus Marketing as we head into 2015—we hope they’ll be useful for you too:
#RealTalk: Avoid buzzwords—use real language to describe what you do and how you do it. This is challenging in an industry full of buzzwords that mean different things to different people. Be aware of your shortcomings and your strengths, and share them both with clients and employees. Remember that customers know you’re not perfect—being honest about where you need to improve is better than selling something that doesn’t really exist or that you can’t deliver. Be transparent in your pricing, in your conversations with employees, and in your dialogue with customers.
Be Visual: Most companies are working with a large range of ad tech companies that handle specific parts of their advertising business. When pitching to companies, remember that pictures are far more powerful than words. Go to the whiteboard and help them visualize the space beyond words. Where do you really provide value to them when you’re looking at the whole system?
Show How Customers Use You: It’s becoming a theme of this post, but it’s challenging to convey what value you provide by words alone. Talking about how your customers work with you is extremely powerful. One way to do that is through customer case studies that show real examples of the value you provide. In an increasingly competitive environment, there’s nothing more powerful than seeing products come to life. Customers can be powerful evangelists for your product—leverage their success stories!
Empower Your Employees: Build the tools and resources that allow your employees to thoroughly understand what your company does and why you do it so they can talk about it in a consistent way. Your employees are your best representatives and touch all the audiences you need to reach. It’s a mistake to ignore them—you have to make sure employees speak about your company in a clear way.
Create Communities: Go beyond your office walls. Be a leading voice in your industry, learn from your peers, and, when you can, help organizations that align with your mission. Which companies share your values, and how can you create partnerships?
Stand for something: Have a mission or purpose. Step back and think about not only what your technology does for your clients, but what it does for your clients’ clients. Where do you fit into the broader scheme of how people are using the internet today?
AppNexus creates value for different parts of our ecosystem, so it’s critical for us to be clear about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Following the guidelines above is the only way for us to maintain clarity about what we offer. While we still have work to do, we’re proud of our progress in some of these areas:
We strive to empower our employees from day one by educating them around what AppNexus does, how we do, and why we do it. All new hires go through an on-boarding program called AppNexus University, where they learn about our business, our company values, and our mission. We hold quarterly All Hands meetings, during which we address the state of the company today, and where we’re headed. Our Town Halls create an open forum for employees to ask questions of our senior leaders. We reinforce our four core values (Learn and Teach, Empower our Customers, See and Improve the Whole System, and Make Greatness Happen) through internal communications, outside partnerships, and even writing them on the office walls!
At AppNexus, our mission to create a better internet drives everything we do. To us, that means helping advertisers increase the effectiveness of their campaigns, which in turn helps publishers monetize their inventory. This, in turn, creates great journalism, great apps, great games – all at no cost to consumers. Our employees know that it’s our core mission to create a better internet, but we haven’t always communicated this aspiration to our customers as well and consistently as we’d like to. That’s something we’re going to work on in 2015 and beyond.