MarTech Interview with Alan Braun, CEO at Ingage
Tell us about your role and journey into Marketing Technology. How did you arrive at Ingage?
I joined Scrollmotion as Chief Technology Officer in 2016 and six months later was named Chief Executive Officer. Now called Ingage(formerly Scrollmotion), the company is focused on interactive content creation that empowers businesses to connect with customers in a whole new way, and is best known for its sales enablement platform – Ingage and its social media platform – Ingage Instants. Before joining Scrollmotion, I had worked for 15 years in new product creation and delivery. I worked at Apple as Head of Worldwide Enterprise Developer Strategy for six years.
My first role at Apple was working with customers to build iPhone apps. When the company focus shifted to developing the iPad, I created an organization to support Fortune 1000 customers in building enterprise apps for all iOS devices. Eventually, my team was responsible for assisting Apple’s Mobility Partners with the design and architecture of their apps. Prior to working at Apple, I was leading a team of engineers at MicroMuse, before it was acquired by IBM.
Which key technologies in Marketing are you keenly following?
Seeing as Ingage is very content focused and active in the Sales and Marketing tech space, I’m closely following the trends around these categories and content development and associated technologies. How are people transforming web properties and other content types into more modern experiences designed for the devices we love? The ad space is also something that continues to evolve and is very interesting right now. Learning how to leverage all of the platforms out there to capture someone’s attention continues to be a huge challenge. We’ve gone through lots of cycles of innovation in this space and it’s exciting to watch as new methods and platforms continue to pop up. There is so much opportunity to get creative and innovate here, it makes it exciting to follow.
And probably not a surprise, but I spend a lot of time following Apple products and more specifically mobility. Paying very close attention to where the smartphone and tablet markets are going and the associated technologies. We are in the very early days of AI and AR with a bright future ahead.
How does Ingage fit into a modern CMOs technology stack?
Ingage really fits into two categories: Content and Experience, and Social and Relationships. We are laser focused on building content experiences that change the way businesses interact with their customers. Giving people the opportunity to have agency level design without the costs associated with that is a powerful motivator for us in our product development. Our platform focuses on allowing any company to create content that will deepen the relationships with their customers, which ultimately will lead to more sales. We deliver on multiple different types of content experiences, everything from presentations to kiosks to social media posts. We really try to get technology out of the way – making it super simple to use, while leveraging it to create amazing experiences.
Tell us how Ingage helps Content Marketing campaigns for various online platforms?
With our Instants product, you can create beautiful and engaging custom videos in under 60 seconds. Adding movement and professional animations to your content drives more engagement from your customers. This content can then be easily integrated into any of your favorite social networks (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). In addition, you can save these videos and integrate into social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social.
Why did you launch Instants 2.0?
Instants 2.0 enables businesses to create beautiful and engaging custom videos, using the speed and simplicity of the 3-step Instants workflow, in under 60 seconds. Our goal in building Instants was to create the fastest solution for building social media videos that can be designed and shared on the go. With the high level of interest in Instagram Stories, we wanted to make sure our users had all of the compelling content features at a full-screen, 9:16 aspect ratio. It allows for free download for iPhone and offers more customization free of charge, including the brand new Instagram-friendly 9:16 aspect ratio, built-in templates, styles, filters, custom colors, speed control, branding, fonts and more, which is perfect for building vibrant, full-screen content for Instagram Stories.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Content Marketing and Branded Story management? Are these two different from each other?
We will continue to see disruption in the Content Marketing space as we focus our strategies on bringing content to where the eyeballs are. We are all spending more and more time on different screens than we were just 5 years ago. We must evolve our storytelling and content experiences to match that reality and the expectations will continue to rise. People use lots of apps and the blend between consumer and business is getting blurrier every day. The tools we use in marketing must catch up to that reality. As for the second part of the question, Content Marketing without great storytelling falls completely flat. The problem is great storytelling is incredibly difficult and we’ve yet to see technology that helps solve this problem. These two must be linked together if you are going to drive effective results. We believe that we’re doing this at Ingage today.
How can Marketing teams better prepare for AI and Automation? How do you prepare for these technologies?
This is an interesting question and one that we are spending a good amount of time as a company focusing on. I don’t think ‘prepare’ is the right word here, instead I think marketing teams need to get comfortable accepting and adopting new technologies. This will be an evolution and those that don’t get on board are going to be left behind. It’s like any change, change is hard, but must be accepted to move forward in big ways. We always look for new ways to optimize and improve the way we do marketing and at Ingage, we’re very focused on providing tools to measure the content that we build.
Tell us about how the industry cares less about the creative and the way ad effectiveness is suffering as a result?
I disagree with this premise, I don’t believe the industry ‘cares’ less about creative, but rather they don’t know how to build experiences for modern devices. Ad effectiveness is all about knowing how to communicate with people on the platform where they are seeing the ad. The old traditional methods of communication are not matching the expectations of consumers who are using the devices they love.
How do you see ‘Playable Ads’ growing in line with Consumer Privacy? What’s blocking greater adoption of this format?
Time is precious and ‘Playable Ads’ compete directly against that. I believe blocking greater adoption is capturing people’s attention enough to be willing to spend time with the Ad. I also think this comes back to building experiences for the device you are on. It is really expensive to get this right, so companies try to short-circuit this by creating a one-size-fits-all solution and that doesn’t drive the results they want. Building a great experience will earn the trust of the people which in turn will convince them to spend more time with the ad.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use in your current role?
We currently do not use any Sales Automation tools in our organization. We are advocates of Sales Enablement tools like those we have built in Ingage Instants and Ingage Presentations that make it super simple to create compelling stories, share them and measure their impact.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology on the Content Creation business for 2019-2020?
At Ingage, we’ve always been very focused on making sure that our platform has the ability to measure its effectiveness. Gone are the days where marketing and sales teams are using tools and wondering if they work. Now, integrating Data Management, AI and other techniques to constantly test what’s working and not working allows us to change up our storytelling in real time and drive sales.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
At Ingage, we’re very focused on companies in the MarTech and Sales Enablement space. We’re interested in what creative social platforms are emerging to ensure that we can build Ingage tools for any emerging platforms that appeal to marketers and sales teams.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business leader?
At Ingage, we’re very data centric. We always want to build a tool for our platform that captures data so show how effective the tool has been. It’s powerful to be able to tell our customers what is working and not working in their sales presentations. So, AI is a natural progression for our platform and will continue to create more data, more predictions, better accuracy and ultimately close more deals for our customers’ sales teams.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
Two key things:
Lead by example, always show new ideas and technology that is making my life easier or better. Show everyone that it is ok to try new technology and welcome new ideas and suggestions on how we improve the company.
Foster an environment that empowers people to drive positive change. Encourage them to improve the way they do their jobs and set associated goals to measure the progress.
One word that best describes how you work.
Grit – Doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether it is rolling up my sleeves to help the team or learning a new technology or concept to drive the business forward or jumping into a gnarly situation to fix it.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Setup a keyboard shortcut on your mac to make it simple to Archive email (CMD-Z for me). Encourages me to clean out my inbox.
What are you currently reading?
I read books, twitter and the news are my current ways of consuming information. I’m currently in the middle of three books: INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google and, Ready Player One.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To be indispensable, but replaceable. If you are going to continue to grow you must have a succession plan in place, otherwise, you will get trapped doing the same thing because nobody can do your job.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Work Ethic: I will do whatever it takes to get the job done. As I mentioned earlier, using grit to solve problems and not be scared of the challenges that present themselves.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.