Syncapse CEO Scissons On Clickable Acquisition And Enterprise Goals

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syncapseMichael Scissons is founder and CEO of Syncapse, a Toronto-based, social performance management platform.

Last week, Scissons' company acquired Clickable, a social and search ad platform based in New York City. According to the release, "Clickable's social and search advertising management functionality will become a key addition to Syncapse's suite, which includes social media publishing, moderation, compliance, multi-channel data management, and measurement intelligence products." Read more. Terms were not announced.

AdExchanger spoke to Scissons about the acquisition and its implications.

AdExchanger: There appears to be mergers and acquisitions momentum around social data. What's your take?

MICHAEL SCISSONS:  There's no question about momentum. The larger CRM companies have woken up and seen how important social is in managing customer relationships moving forward. It's also an interesting intersection because it's not just about email and direct mail. It's about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and media – it’s an intersection of a lot of different disciplines that if you want to be a serious player in the connection management business for marketers, you have to have a lot more pieces of the puzzle. The larger legacy players have woken up to that.

What were the triggers for you in deciding to acquire Clickable?

We've been looking for a while now, and there are three key things here that we were interested in. One was the Facebook ad badge and the Clickable technology. The team has done a good job building scalable technology and it’s built on similar stack to ours. From an integration perspective, there were a lot of similarities that would allow us to have that technology as part of our integrated social performance marketing suite.

We're also very excited about the leadership. Dave Fall, the ex‑Google DoubleClick executive is going to take over all of our products and help bring alignment to them. We're very excited about having him on board the team, as well as a robust engineering organization. We'll have roughly 80-90 engineers on our R&D team and one of the largest R&D teams focused around social marketing and social performance marketing in the space.

We're competing against the Salesforces and the Oracles of the world. It's important that we've got a large enough R&D organization to be competitive and we've got a unique advantage because we're not part of any legacy stack. We're able to focus on building whatever a marketer needs moving forward.

So, partially, this acquisition is an acqui-hire?

Facebook and ad management technologies plus the acqui-hire is probably a good point. We think that there is an amazing group of people here. There was definitely some difference in focus. Clickable has been kind of working more in the mid-market and pivoting up towards the enterprise. They've got a critical base of customers at the direct level and power some bigger agencies within WPP and IPG. At Syncapse, our focus is purely big enterprise. Taking what they've learned and apply it to our enterprise customers is going to be a powerful thing.

What might be some use cases for clients that they will see now with the combined companies?

Using the CRM example, there are two points. One, they're going to see we're already a leader in measurement and reporting for brands around marketing performance and social. They're now going to see a richer data set on media as part of the paid/earned/owned story.

From a product perspective, if you look at CRM in social, when you've got a Facebook fan page and you've got a million fans, if you send a message out to your audience without paid media, you only reach about 15 percent of the people.

What this is going to allow us to do is extend our relationship management capabilities where we were reporting just earned. Now, we can go into paid and make sure that we can help our customers build the social relationships across the entire ecosystem.

Regarding paid/owned/earned media, how will it break out in the future in terms of a marketing budget? Will half of a marketing budget going towards the paid side, with owned and earned splitting the other half, for example? Any sense of the trend there?

I'm not expecting there to be a massive shift in spend in the short term. We help our customers more effectively measure their agency and marketing performance across paid, earned, and owned [media]. Ultimately, what the marketer wants to do is generate more reach, frequency and impact for less money. The way they do that is by wide content distribution and great content.

If we look down the road, the ability for a platform to manage the distribution and placement of that content, whether it's an earned channel or a paid channel, and being able to optimize its performance, that's going to be important.

We're doing a lot of measurement around those areas for brands today. We're primarily looking at paid/earned/owned ratios across social and across digital.

However, paid/earned/owned goes beyond that, as well. You can have a great television commercial that people talk about and lots of television is still bought by a fax or a signed insertion order. Fax machines don't have APIs.

So being able to understand and measure the audience performance in relationship to that paid/earned/owned mix is important.

You could potentially get into the Google world with display and retargeting. Thoughts?

Absolutely. There are two trends. First, if you want to be in the CRM business today for social, you have to be in media because - you used to pay a CPM rate to send email ads to your email distribution list. Now, you have to pay Facebook if you want to reach people within a frequency.

Looking across where it goes, owning content distribution in the areas that we would need, whether it's within search, social search, paid, there's a case to be made that those are different kinds of data sets. Different types of ads. Are they really integrated?

The way we see the world over time is as search starts to shift and become more social, it's an important advantage for us to have the robust knowledge around search as we think about how all these different pieces come together.

We could be months away from social search. We could be days -with Facebook doing things. We want to make sure that we're prepared.

In terms of target market, where is it today and where will it be in a year or so?

We're an enterprise software company and sell 100% to direct enterprise customers. Financial services, CPG, etc. These are our direct customer relationships where we span the agencies that are there.

One of the things that Clickable brings is now we have an amazing media management and measurement platform that we've never sold to agencies before.

Using our enterprise software background, we think there's a lot of expansion opportunity there, but we are still very focused on the enterprise market. Clickable has a number of customers who have a lot of relationships. We already touch hundreds of agencies who come in contact with our software through their customers because their customers are ultimately the decision makers.

With the Facebook Exchange revealed [last week]. What does that announcement mean to you, if anything?

I figured that it would be a Facebook Ad Network at first. But, what it does is have some effect on pricing and inventory within their network.

What we're excited about is as Facebook expands into areas like search and being their own display network, the capabilities that we have will help our customers manage the relationships across a much wider network.

I see the Facebook Exchange as a first step. It's going to be an aggressive strategy from them in terms of using data and monetizing across the broader web as search moves forward. This is only step one.

Finally, what about any future acquisitions by Syncapse?

We've got our hands full for a good year with offices in the U.K., Asia, the U.S. and Canada – all dependent on where we're seeing customer demand in the large enterprise. You're going to continue to see growth from us on the technology side in order to meet the demands of the CMO.

And, you'll see continued growth from us on the services side, too.

By John Ebbert

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