What AdRoll's regional chief has to say about Australia

Six months on from a restructure that saw most Australian headcount cut, president of APAC and EMEA talks about the adtech company's customer pivot and plans for the marketand


AdRoll’s EMEA and APAC president has reaffirmed the adtech company’s commitment to Australia and the region, but played down the need to bolster headcount to achieve its revised brand objectives.

Speaking to CMO during a recent visit to Sydney, Adroll president EMEA and APAC, Marius Smyth, said the adtech player was looking to grow its customer base in Australia once more by pivoting on the type of customers it’s looking to serve: Namely, small to medium enterprises.

The comments come six months after AdRoll commenced a global restructure of the business that saw 5 per cent of its global employees, including most of its 28 Australian employees, cut. As part of the change, local and regional executive responsibility shifted back to AdRoll’s Dublin headquarters and under the remit of Smyth.

“Ultimately, we were trying to focus on too many things, and solve everything for everyone,” Smyth said of the restructure. “So you start to think about what changes need to happen in terms of business structure globally, but also within market and region. That’s where we started from. Then you have to make some tough decisions. One tough decision was we needed to focus on one particular market segment.

Marius Smyth
Marius Smyth


“Australia was probably most affected in terms of the customer segment we had been going after, which resulted in the changes we made in December.”  

According to Smyth, AdRoll’s evolving performance marketing toolkit is best targeted at small to medium enterprises with a retail focus. “That’s the part of the market with least resources, that’s looking for automation and intelligence, and we felt that was the place we should focus on,” he said.

In February, AdRoll launched its new company vision, launching a major brand refresh globally and announcing new guided campaign set-up tools for small business, cross-channel campaign reporting improvements, an expanded native offering and a self-service attribution dashboard. Prior to the restructure, the company boasted of 37,000 customers worldwide with annual logged sales reaching US$246 billion.

Smyth said AdRoll’s reduction in headcount gave the company more resources to invest in product and engineering.

“That’s where all the energy and resources have gone since those changes in December. We’re starting to see it pay dividends globally as well as locally,” he claimed. “It doesn’t mean we’ve neglected the local, larger customers. We have explained the positioning and they get it. Some of these larger customers don’t have a lot of people working for them – they could be pure-play online retailers.”

Smyth said his first priority from January was to try and stabilise the business “after what was a challenging change”. He admitted several customers had chosen not to continue working with AdRoll globally.

“We then tried to refocus it and figure out where the growth is for us in the market. We know there are a lot of SMEs, so we have validated some of that and I’m looking forward to getting back into a growth stage of the game, where we’re growing with the market and SMEs at an individual as well as segment level,” he said.  

One of the decisions we made was whether to stay in the region or not, and we absolutely decided to do that here [in Australia]. We have strong customers we’re meeting with here, such as Budgie Smugglers, which has grown with us over the years and they’re a good, honest customer with us in terms of telling us where we can improve.”

Product focus

Smyth described AdRoll’s product strategy as one of automation, self-service and the democratisation of advertising.

“For example, how do we allow them to gain insight into true reporting through attribution dashboards, which we can build for every customer,” he continued. “That’s what we’ve gone and done.”

Smyth also hoped this approach that would differentiate AdRoll in SME eyes against larger giants such as Google and Facebook.

“Google provides you with a Google solution; Facebook provides you with a Facebook one. You come to us and we’ll offer those plus a SME solution and we’ll be offering video solution this year as well,” he said. “So you have a platform that solves for a lot of platforms all in one place.”

Partnerships will be a key component in the mix and Smyth also noted AdRoll’s strategic integrations with Shopify globally, Rakuten in Japan and PestaShop in EMEA as examples of how it’s working with ecommerce platforms to help SME pure-play retailers.

“That cross-over between media, your adtech piece, and providing your marketing communications piece through integrations and being able to plug in to the business, is what we’re striving to do,” he added.

Given its ambitions on attribution, Smyth also recognised AdRoll would have to do a better job of connecting with other marketing cloud platforms.

“What a lot of customers are looking for is to be able to attribute where marketing spend goes to right across the customer journey,” he said. “We’re starting to build technology around attribution that can not only ingest the data a customer has with us in the adtech side, but also ingests customer data they have in their business to see better what’s happening across the journey.

“That’s the nexus point for adtech and martech. The more we invest in that and solve for SME, the more interesting we become. We’re at the early stages of that.”

Australian footprint

Yet despite AdRoll’s commitment to the local market, Smyth did not disclose plans for any additional service and support headcount in Australia.

“I don’t necessarily think the yardstick for success today is how big your organisation is or the headcount,” he said in response to a direct question on whether AdRoll would hire more employees in Australia. “The real yardstick for success is going to be customer growth and how many SMEs require a solution from us. We have stabilised the business, now the focus is on how to capture the opportunity.

“If you look at our EMEA operations, we service 15 countries across EMEA, and we do that well and without massive overhead. The more we invest in the tech and automation, and in tooling that allows customers to do these things more effectively, the more interesting a business we become.”

Smyth then highlighted investment into a new customer byflow, aimed at making it as easy as possible for clients to get onto the platform.

“If you answer questions upfront and solve for those problems, we can quickly get them to a point where they’re solving for those issues they have,” he said. “That way you don’t need a lot of integration partners or people to help you do this, you can do it yourself.”  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu   

 

 

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