Media Vet David Karnstedt Says Audience Development Is As Important As Sales Execution

DavidKDavid Karnstedt, who headed performance-marketing engine Efficient Frontier during its $400 million sale to Adobe in 2011, is taking the reins yet again as CEO of a data startup called Quantifind. He will lead a 60-person team seeking to scale quickly.

Quantifind, which has raised $12 million, is among a handful of startups that act as both a data firehose (Blab and Beckon) and as a provider of marketing revenue analysis, like MarketShare.

Clients like Heineken and Pepsi use Quantifind to measure brand health metrics around customer acquisition, churn and market share, as well as the impact of campaign performance on revenue.

Karnstedt, who once served as SVP of North American sales for Yahoo, as well as a board member for numerous ad tech and marketing tech companies (BlueKai, JumpTap and Demandbase), spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: What problem does Quantifind solve?

DAVID KARNSTEDT: We use machine-learning algorithms to look at unstructured data to predict the things marketers can do to improve revenue. A lot of companies have some smart people and who do some really interesting work on spreadsheets, but it’s not the same as having a scalable SaaS platform, which we have at Quantifind. 

Who are Quantifind’s customers?

We’re predominantly focused on brands and it depends on the nature of what they’re trying to achieve. The ability to access and manage unstructured data is really interesting for us. Even call center data is a rich form of data for us to understand, unfiltered, how a customer is interacting with your product or service. Brands are thirsty for that information – tying signals to revenue – and we have a strong data science team working on that. The speed of decision-making is critical for CMOs. When you start to deal with bigger brands, older methods of surveying don’t give them the velocity of data and decisioning they need.

You have a history of getting companies sold. Is that on the road map for Quantifind?

We see a huge opportunity based on what we’re able to do in our marketing and brand platform. Our goal is to build a big business for sure. I know from looking out at the landscape what we do is unique enough where there are companies out there who could benefit from our expertise. We’re mindful of that. But our goal is to build a big, scaled business right now.

Is ad tech and marketing tech really converging?

Even when I was at Efficient Frontier, it was getting harder and harder to differentiate your technology, which made it harder to differentiate increased value in price. In ad tech, the margins have been compressed pretty significantly, so companies are trying to find new ways to generate revenue, which aren’t [so reliant on margin] price.

What’s fueling all the recent consolidation?

The technology was the big factor here.

There was a debate years ago about who is going to hold the keys to the bigger bucket – was it going to be the CMO, CIO or the CTO? The first wave of that happened when I was at Yahoo – thus making marketing more accountable. Back then, the average tenure of a CMO was 19 months, so the accountability was there, but the ability to deliver the tools to make it measurable and accountable wasn’t necessarily there. Now there are a range of tools and software to track the life cycle of a customer experience to conversion as well as to sell multiple products.

What are your thoughts on Yahoo since your tenure?

Yahoo was great place for me to work, and I still wish Yahoo to succeed in a major way. I think the real challenge for Yahoo – sales and sales execution is one thing, but the bigger thing is to grow the audience in a way that they’ve got younger demos coming in, new platforms, a big mobile and video business. I think there’s more challenge on the product side of the world than fixing the sales side. So, growing the audience is job one, and hopefully they’ve got a great team to monetize that. But you’ve got to continue to grow that audience with people that marketers want to reach.

How are you growing Quantifind?

There are some near-term things that will happen in the next month or two where we have a couple of high-profile hires coming along, so as part of scaling our business we will bring on executive talent that will help us achieve that goal.

The second part of it is we launched our SaaS platform Signum in December, so we will continue to build out the functionality and usability of our platform. We will be out there working with many big brands, raising our profile. The whole idea of leveraging my experience as a CEO in the past, as somebody who really brings a track record and history of go to market and combining that with [co-founder] Ari [Tuchman’s] product instincts and data science approaches, felt like it provided a great backbone for us to grow really quickly.

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