“Experience and engagement are going to be all about making things more accessible and easier for consumers while benefiting marketers – not the other way around.”Marika Roque, COO at KERV Interactive
The following interview was conducted by Sudipto Ghosh with MarTech Series.
Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at KERV.
This is a tough question as I manage the full operation of the company from strategy, to sales to planning and activation to data and product. My current focus is on making sure the way we are currently packaging up our technology matches with what the market is looking for while also building out our data and performance strategies. We have a patented interactive Video technology that can ingest any existing content, so we have chosen to begin Marketing ourselves to in-stream ad dollars to garner user adoption since we provide massive lift when compared to the flat, non-interactive video.
In parallel, we are working on larger publisher and content-side partnerships and integrations with long term goals such as real-time sponsorship opportunities and attribution, CTV to phone interaction opportunities and much more. Our team is agile and is client service-centric while also using that client feedback to build the most versatile and effective tool for interactive video.
As a woman COO in a competitive tech landscape, what unique challenges did you meet? How did you overcome these?
Being a woman in the space has not been easy. Although these numbers are increasing, women are still a small percentage of the technology industry. As a result, there are usually many more men in most rooms or peer groups, and as a default, I find that I am interrupted more than my male counterparts as well as generally held to higher standards from bosses and even partners in order to be taken seriously. I realized this early in my career and my approach has been to become an expert of my craft, practice patience versus reaction, and exude that confidence in any room. I am direct and make sure to be heard, when necessary. I always speak up with the intention of adding strategic value or voicing something I believe in or know will benefit the organization. I don’t overthink when I am interrupted or questioned, but instead simply talk stronger. I am not afraid of confrontation and I question everything.
Nearly 100% of my bosses have been males over the past decade and I have maintained fantastic relationships with each of them because of my unapologetic directness, organization, and value that I brought to each team I was part of. The trick for me has been to not just become an asset but to become THE asset while also not losing my voice, behind my boss or team. As I have progressed in my career, the rooms have fewer and fewer women, so I feel more and more responsibility. I carry myself a bit more seriously than is probably needed but I am direct, and I get things done.
You started very early in the MarTech industry. Which companies, executives, and/or influencers made the most profound impact on your journey in Marketing Technologies?
Susan Wojcicki has been one to watch for me. She worked her way to a leadership position at Google and has always worked hard for everything she achieved. She became heavily involved in two of Google’s most successful acquisitions, and now leads one of them. I also like that she speaks out about the importance of balancing family and career and is an example that it is possible. She has made a huge impact on me and I would love the opportunity to meet her one day. I want to be her when I grow up. ?
Roles and Insights
Tell us how you plan your day in the office. Which Marketing, Sales and Communication tools do you use to manage your tasks and meetings?
I am addicted to my email and my calendar. I get in early to make sure I am at inbox 0 and plan my day from there. We then use Jira (dev queue and release timelines), Teamwork (operational and creative queue and timelines), Zendesk (client-facing and support ticket management), and HubSpot for task and deal management. We are also a Slack organization and have several channels for collaboration and communication.
I schedule as much on my calendar as possible from catching up on articles from trades, email check-in, and of course team strategy meetings. I also don’t leave the office until I have accomplished everything in the high priority sections of my to-dos.
As a COO of a Video Marketing company, do you think B2B Marketing teams finally understand that customer experience (CX) is the currency of the modern ‘Engagement’ economy? How do you promote this idea at KERV with your CMO and CPO?
I do not think that we are all the way there, yet, across our customer set but I have confidence that we will get there. We promote data here at KERV and although we need UX and design foundationally, we need our technology to perform and not just look like it can perform. It’s a delicate balance of different team members, of course. We promote this idea by enforcing a testing procedure prior to taking anything that affects our CX to market. This includes focus groups, testing with general population users — we use a company that records users interacting with our technology including their reactions and struggles throughout the CX.
We, of course, do strategic and delicate testing live, in-market against clean user sets. We have found that removing as much emotion out of the conversations as possible has allowed the conversations to be more productive and impactful. The groups that are working on customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) have never been as data-oriented as the market is requiring today. Our technology is all about engagement so continuing to optimize toward the modern engagement economy isn’t an option, it is a requirement and all relevant stakeholders are aware of this.
Predictions and Insights
We have heard about the extensive applications of AI and Machine Learning in Customer Engagement tools. How did you leverage AI at KERV for your Video platforms?
We utilize AI for the verticalized object recognition within any existing Video assets. Our AI/ML allows us to process videos in minutes and removes the lift that would be associated with processing all the objects that our precise technology allows. Since we can get down to the pixel level, we can identify hundreds of objects in certain videos and our automation helps us do that more efficiently.
Tell us about the future of “Experience and Engagement” and how Video and Social media streaming platforms would shape the Marketing industry in 2020-2024.
Experience and engagement are going to be all about making things more accessible and easier for consumers while benefiting marketers – not the other way around. The focus and research should go into what consumers are already doing and fitting in engagement and experience into that versus asking consumers to do something completely out of their habit or muscle memory.
For example, time spent with mobile devices is now higher than time spent with TVs, so taking a mobile-first approach to interactivity is key. Going mobile-first allows us to blend these ideas and utilize apps that consumers are already hooked into and simply make Marketing and Content even more cohesive. In-app integrations will be key for seamless consumer-facing experiences.
What would be the most powerful technology development of the decade for you?
The most powerful technological development of the decade, for me, has been the real-time ecosystem, inclusive of the Cloud, and what that has driven data, supply and personalization to become. Programmatic, AI and ML have driven a real-time infrastructure that has paved the way for what our engagement, AR and VR expectations will be. The more that we streamline the auction and the identification of intent, the more we can cater to the engagement experience to the precise moment, context, and device.
Experienced Executive with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industries. Skilled in Programmatic, Business Operations, Data Strategy, Digital Strategy, Media Buying, Marketing Strategy, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. Expertise in building scalable and ground breaking ad-tech infrastructures, including best in-class teams.
About KERV Interactive
KERV is a patented interactive video platform that utilizes sophisticated Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to quickly transform any video content into a fully interactive and trackable experience. Built on cutting-edge, patented technology, individual objects are identified by their pixel edges in any video stream. KERV technology recognizes depth, dimension and objects within a video just as the natural eye does. Every frame, in every scene, of any video to be an immersive, interactive experience for consumers.