SalesTech Interview With Georgia Herdener, SVP of Growth at CrossInstall
Tell us about your journey in the B2B Mobile Growth market.
I took a slightly atypical path as my career began with teaching before transitioning into the nonprofit sector, where I created my own organization. I ultimately decided to follow my interest in business and relocated to San Francisco in 2010 to focus on ad tech. Given that I had limited experience outside of teaching and non-profit work, I accepted my first role as a receptionist with Tapjoy (a mobile ad platform).
After spending less than 2 months at the front desk, I moved to the business development team where I did both sales and account management. After quite a bit of hard work and support from my mentors, I was promoted to manage the account management team. I spent nearly six years at Tapjoy before deciding to join CrossInstall.
I had been following the hyper-growth of playable ads in the mobile ad space and wanted to be part of an innovative company working alongside an incredible team. It’s been an exciting couple of years as we’ve partnered with Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Unity, Google Instant Play and a number of other leading platforms to ensure we’re continually building our business based directly on client feedback. We want to cater to advertiser needs and will continue expanding our footprint to ensure we do just that.
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How much more important are Client Acquisition and Partnership Development activities today than when you first started in Mobile Growth?
About ten years ago the industry was immature. Someone who began his or her journey in ad tech may have felt then that the number of clients and partners would be endlessly growing. However, there has been significant consolidation within the space and many of the industry leaders have worked for a number of companies but stayed within ad tech. This means that the most successful companies are those who recognized early how crucial it is to nurture authentic relationships.
Given that this industry is close-knit, a client-first approach to company priorities has never been more important. We seek consistent feedback from our clients to ensure we focus on what matters most to them.
Our new Creatives-as-a-Service (CaaS) program was developed last year after top-tier advertisers shared that they wanted to use their CrossInstall playables on other platforms (like Facebook). We listened and built out partnerships with the various key platforms our clients requested. Now they can use our playables elsewhere through CaaS. When the focus is consistently on having happy clients, then all sides win.
How do you leverage new-age tools to help your clients with user acquisition and Technographic data?
Our CaaS offering allows us to use a data-driven approach to track every user interaction across all platforms and make customized changes to the creative based on the data. We are always innovating on our bidder models, partnerships, and variations to build and present the most effective playable ads.
For example, some of our recent updates empower advertisers with more real-time, hands-on reporting and campaign updates so they can proactively optimize their own creatives within our dashboard to drive results more efficiently.
In addition to our CaaS Program, we are also a DSP (Demand Side Platform). This means we have a proprietary bidder technology which was built entirely in-house. We use machine learning algorithms to acquire high LTV users for our partners.
What are the core tenets of your Account Management strategies?
CrossInstall is a customer-first company. This means each AM’s (account manager) objective is to provide the highest level of service for our clients who leverage both our DSP and CaaS offerings. It’s each AM’s responsibility to lobby for internal resources for his or her clients to ensure their campaigns receive the attention they need to surpass the clients’ goals. AMs are the clients’ internal stakeholders at CrossInstall, and we encourage them to approach each situation from their clients’ perspectives.
Which partnership/ growth update from the industry really inspired you to make bolder decisions in 2018?
Facebook reached out to us in 2017 asking to partner in an effort to bring playable ads to the Facebook News Feed and Facebook Audience Network. After nearly a year of working closely with their team, we brought our playable ad units to Facebook. Our clients saw great results on Facebook and were asking for more. So we knew we had to continue to move — fast. The decision to work with Facebook was a significant inspiration for us and really kick-started our CaaS program.
Upon launching CaaS in May, we saw immediate traction with our core, gaming clients who had past success with our playables. But, more interestingly, we’ve had an influx of non-gaming and brand interest. This was another payoff of our risk of working outside our DSP. Brands are asking for our CaaS offering as an additional channel in their user acquisition strategy as they can use Facebook, Google and Snapchat’s targeting capabilities with our cutting-edge playable creative.
While our CaaS program has been the biggest addition for the company, we are still closely tied to our core offering as a DSP. This line of our business has grown exponentially since we were founded and is the main reason we were awarded #57 in Deloitte’s fastest growing companies in North America for 2018 (#12 in the Bay Area). This also means you see our interactive ads everywhere.
How do you leverage technology to grow your sales opportunities?
There are clear stakes for any sales team that runs across the board (LinkedIn, CRM software, etc). I am a strong advocate within my team for plugins such as Right Inbox. This tool ensures I never send an email without a follow-up or forget to reply to an email within a timely manner. This plugin allows me to prioritize and de-prioritize – all while keeping my inbox close to zero and my sanity intact.
For CrossInstall specifically, our sales opportunities this year have been less driven by technology and more by sharing great stories that resonate with clients. This works in tandem with leveraging the usual digital channels of LinkedIn, email, and public relations to tell those stories.
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We’ve taken every opportunity to co-market with Facebook and Google as our partnerships with them continue to expand.
These exciting opportunities have included being named on stage at F8 as a playable launch partner, being selected for Facebook’s formal playable case study, and training their sales teams on playables. They are the giants of the space so we’ll take advantage of joint marketing with them anytime – and this, of course, boosts our sales opportunities.
What challenges do you face in working with a quickly evolving ecosystem?
We understand that we can’t stop innovating in this space. Therefore, we are always redefining what is possible with playable ads — especially in regards to brands.
For gaming advertisers, playables, for quite a while now, have been considered their bread and butter as a way to drive engagement and pre-qualify users. However, this form of advertising is more up and coming for brands in all sorts of verticals. Those like retail, entertainment, food, and travel have already begun to leverage the opportunities.
Savvy marketers are starting to understand that banners build awareness, videos build attention, but only playables build engagement. Although we were one of the first mobile playable ad companies, we’ve seen that many companies have recognized our success and are fast followers of our product development. This means we need to continue to innovate on our core products while also delivering operational excellence across our business to continue to lead the market.
Our focus remains on what we’re great at, which is building clean and effective playables, while also keeping our eye on a long-term strategy built around evolution and planning for what’s next. It certainly helps that we work with some world-renowned games and brands who see the value in playable ads!
Why are relationships more important than ever for modern B2B sales leaders?
I touched on this in an earlier question, but the industry has changed immensely over the past few years with significant consolidation. There are really only a handful of key clients who will move the needle, and many ad tech veterans have changed companies but stayed within the space. These are among the key reasons why relationships are at the root of all business opportunities.
Advertisers have choices about spending their dollars so having authentic connections based on trust and a mutual understanding of goals is crucial. These connections add value to my personal life, career path, and any organization I work within.
How do you consume all the information in the industry and how it helps manage success in hyper-growth markets?
With the relationships I’ve cultivated throughout my years in the industry, I tend to be on the front line of hearing and reacting to any news relevant to CrossInstall. I spend as much time as I can being in front of our clients, accessing leadership layers at different companies, and staying closely connected to partners as well as competitors.
I always want to know what interests them, what’s working, what’s not working, what could be better, and what’s next. Ultimately, I strive to connect their feedback to how CrossInstall can better serve the ecosystem. I engage with LinkedIn and tech blogs on a daily basis and network at global conferences, but I find that thoughtful conversations are the most efficient way to continue the hyper-growth.
Spending the right amount of time with the right people is the key.
Which events and webinars do you most occasionally attend and why?
I focus less on the content of an event and more on finding places where there are a number of influential industry leaders in the same place at the same time – which frequently tends to be the case at conferences. I prioritize industry standard events like GDC and Casual Connect where individuals will engage in meaningful dialogue.
The right people provide a prime opportunity to exchange information for game-changing ideas. I also appreciate the more focused knowledge sharing environments thought-leaders have started organizing such as F8 and Google PlayTime.
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Thank You, Georgia, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
CrossInstall is the leading creator of programmatic interactive mobile ads enabling advertisers to deliver personalized messages to the right audience.
Georgia Herdener is a veteran of the mobile gaming and advertising industry. She is currently the SVP of Growth at CrossInstall. Prior to rising in the ranks at CrossInstall, Georgia held multiple roles over her six years at Tapjoy. Prior to her career in advertising, Georgia was a school teacher and worked within the nonprofit sector. During her time in ad tech she’s enjoyed building a new line of business from scratch while partnering with some of the industry giants such as Facebook, Google, and Snap. She’s happy to be working alongside some of the smartest minds in the industry at CrossInstall as they continue to lead the market as playable experts.