New Profitero CEO Bryan Wiener On Winning The New Normal In Ecommerce

The dynamic duo of Bryan Wiener and Sarah Hofstetter is back in business. This time at the helm of the ecommerce analytics company Profitero.

Wiener and Hofstetter were the CEO and president, respectively, of the agency 360i, which was acquired by Dentsu. Later, they both took up similar positions at the measurement firm Comscore, before abruptly quitting last year over disputes with the rest of the board.

While advising brands and PE firms, they came in contact with Profitero, Wiener said. The PE firm they were working with didn’t end up investing in the startup, he said, but they met many people in the company and its clients, and were excited about the prospect of leading a startup in a growth category like ecommerce and retail data.

The company raised $20 million last month, and Wiener and Hofstetter officially took over the two top jobs.

“It was very fortunate we were able to work with employees for so long beforehand, because leading a company without having met anybody would be incredibly difficult right now,” he said.

AdExchanger caught up Wiener about his vision for the startup, particularly during the coronavirus crisis, and the potential combination of an advertising business with Profitero’s subscription analytics.

AdExchanger: So where does Profitero fit into the ecommerce landscape?

BRYAN WIENER: Our core client base is enterprise-class manufacturers, like Adidas, L'Oréal, General Mills. So we don’t sell to retailers: We track what’s happening on retail and ecommerce sites on behalf of the brands.

The kinds of insights we provide are like real-time comparisons of market share, product pricing and promotional activity compared to a competitive set and where products are in or out of stock. Many of those manufacturers sell wholesale to retailers, so they don’t have clear visibility into their pricing and product availability with the retailer. That’s the pain point we solve for.

What actions do clients take with your data?

It gets back to the basics of, “are we in stock?” Brands want to drive consumers to the retailers where the product is available.

The competitive market share analytics are important too. If you’re not moving product with a certain retailer, is it because competitors are undercutting on price or running promotions that are taking that business? Where should they or should they not be running promotions?

The data can also be used for evaluating what the next week or two might look like. We’ve seen that especially during this crisis. Like, OK we see a spike in alcohol sales and kitchen equipment, so we should push hard in the next week or two on home bartending supplies.

It looks like these swings happen week to week, but the trends don’t play out overnight. Take home office supplies, which had a huge spike early on. If you were reacting to that, you missed it. People bought new work chairs for their home and now they don’t need one anymore. You need to be looking at the data to see what’s happening in real-time, not looking at lagging sales numbers.

Do you do any ad buying or targeting?

Right now it’s pure SaaS analytics. No question that is an adjacent opportunity. It makes all the sense in the world since we have that back-end sales data. That’s on the plan to integrate and offer to customers in the next 12 months or so.

The ad platforms and DSPs don’t have our level of conversion data to optimize campaigns around and there’s a big appetite for that data. What we have to study is whether it’s best to partner, build or look to M&A for that opportunity. But we’ll be aggressive and are thinking through that.

This seems like it could be an opportune time for acquisitions, especially considering you recently raised money.

I don’t think this particular moment is ideal for M&A. This would be a tough or impossible time to integrate a business into our own. But coming out of this definitely.

When we built 360i [the agency Wiener led until after it was acquired by Dentsu], in retrospect the defining moment was the 2008-2009 recession. We were able to accelerate our business coming out of that, because we were able to grow customers without huge indiscriminate cuts, which other agencies had implemented after that crash. Our growth rate wasn’t great during the recession, but we surged coming out of the recession.

Are there growth opportunities on the table right now?

There are some opportunities. We do see people reaching out because all of a sudden there’s this scale for their ecommerce business that maybe a couple months ago was practically all in stores, and they don’t have the analytics.

One big potential growth driver could be buy-online or click-and-collect type shopping. Ecommerce is synonymous with an Amazon or FedEx package arriving at your door, but there’s been an acceleration of purchases happening online, but people going to pick items up at the store or through other kinds of fulfillment. A decade or more of gradual change in how consumers shop is being compressed into this year.

 

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