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Marketing Mavericks: an Interview with OptiMine’s Matt Voda

Published: August 14, 2015

Author: 3Q/DEPT

Matt-web-square-OM-HS-506Name: Matt Voda
Company: OptiMine
Twitter handle: @OptiMineInc

How long have you been in your current role?

Just over 1 year- one of the fastest years of my career!

When you look back at the last six months, what were some of the biggest surprises of your job?

Being CMO of OptiMine has been a blast; I’m having more fun than I ever imagined, and perhaps that is a big surprise in and of itself. I knew coming on board that working at a tech startup was going to be an endless string of daunting challenges, and I mentally prepared myself for that. But when you are having fun, the challenges don’t seem so insurmountable.

What are 2-3 bold predictions you’d make for the next six months?

Some company will announce that they have an ad platform and campaign messaging framework for the Apple Watch – just kidding! I think there will be more consolidation in the marketing technology and media world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumors around potential acquisitions of Salesforce.com and Twitter come to fruition. There are very large players looking to extend their advantage, avoid losing their advantage, or break into new areas where they’ve previously lost. We’re in a fascinating time of unprecedented change — whether it’s massive shifts in consumer behavior, explosion of new devices, or a dizzying array of new ad channels — and it is all happening faster. This will lead to some aggressive moves on the part of some of the larger players looking to be/stay relevant.

What’s your favorite recent ad campaign, and why?

Oh, this is tough. There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes that qualify whether a campaign is a rock star or a dog, and as a consumer you don’t have the perspective to know whether a campaign was truly a success for its company. As a consumer, I really like campaigns that are really entertaining or challenge my point of view. A campaign I liked was the “I Will What I Want” from UnderArmour with Misty Copeland. As a parent with a young daughter, I love this underdog story and especially love that it can inspire girls to pursue their dreams despite the obstacles.
Also, I just ran across a site that, while it wasn’t a “campaign” per se, really sparked my love of ’80s culture. The company created different “mix tapes” to express their love for their existing customers, desire for new customers, and sorrow for the clients they’ve lost. You can put a mix-tape into an ’80s era Walkman and play each of the tapes. Check out the site here.

If you had $10M, which marketing platform (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) would you invest in, and why?

Because we provide advanced attribution and marketing performance measurement analytics, one of the things we get to see is our clients’ performance across all of these channels and more. And almost 100% of the time, we see that there is no single channel or ad that carries the day. In fact, we see that there are portions of upper funnel spend in display, social, and video that drive performance of the lower funnel, even specific search keywords. The other thing we see consistently is that without the right measurement approach, mediums that are difficult to track or don’t have clicks get zero credit and the advertiser has to take it on faith that their investments in things like mobile or video will help drive performance. The last perspective on this is that the marketers we work with that dedicate a portion of their budget to testing which new channels are consistently performing better because they are avoiding the “comfort zone” trap and embrace a test & measure mentality.
Given this perspective, and the fact that we are a B2B company focused on generating awareness of OptiMine and new leads, I would:
1. Take a 70/20/10 budget focus, using 70% of budget on things we know work, 20% to re-validate things we *think* work, and the remaining 10% to test entirely new spaces.
2. We would balance spend across a combination of upper-funnel awareness (Display, Social, Mobile and Video) along with lower-funnel targeted lead gen (Search).
3. And of course, we would use 3Q and OptiMine to execute, test, measure and refine. What could be better? 🙂

If you had $10M, which marketing technology would you invest in, and why?

Wow — that’s a LOT to spend on marketing tech. I would test some interesting solutions like InsideSales.com, and we could always have more and better prospect databases. And then we could use the remaining $9.9M and buy a global ComScore license for all of our clients!

What is/are the most important metric(s) you use to guide your decision making process?

We use many of the same metrics that I imagine most of 3Q’s clients use — ROAS, CPA, etc. — and these are great to guide tactical decisions. But there are some fundamental “metrics” that are more qualitative that are more important:

1. Does this new feature or product that we are planning help our customers compete more effectively, solve their problems, or drive better performance for them?

2. How do we provide support and education to help our clients understand how to get the most from our products and generate more marketing ROI?

3. How do we disrupt the market with a platform that is the fastest, easiest and most impactful, and in doing so reshape the status quo?

These are the more qualitative measures that guide many of our decisions.

Which is more important, attribution or mobile? Why?

We have a very defined point of view on attribution as a player in that space, and it is this: there are a whole new set of channels that are either un-trackable or very difficult to track, like mobile, social, video, and display. And if you are relying on click-based approaches to measure these channels, you are toast. So, in order to get the most of mobile (or any other channel that doesn’t have clicks), you need a measurement capability that can properly value these channels. So, proper measurement is the foundation to start with.

Are there any specific books that have helped shape your marketing strategy?

There are a few that have really resonated with me and have either influenced how I view certain challenges or have completely shifted the way I think:

1. “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing”, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. This is a simple and fast read and I recommend it to anybody just starting out in their marketing career. What I really like about it is that it covers the blurred ground of product, positioning, and marketing in an effective way. Product positioning success is driven by great marketing, but having a well-defined product position paves the way to successful marketing. It’s the marketing equivalent of the Oreo or the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

2. “Good to Great”, by Jim Collins (and the other books in the series- “Great by Choice”, etc.). I read “Good to Great” when I had been with a successful startup for nearly 10 years, going from startup to a $400M company with a successful IPO and a $2B market cap (a “unicorn” in today’s tech world). We were struggling to think about the next 10 years and how to go from being pretty good to a great company for the long run, and this book completely changed how I thought about how to be a great company (it’s better to be a hedgehog than a fox!). Also, Collins and his team have done extensive research with actual market data to build their hypotheses, so the message and the playbook was far more credible in my eyes. I definitely recommend this series.

More about Matt Voda:

Matt Voda is Chief Marketing Officer of OptiMine. Matt has spent his entire career of 20+ years in the data-driven marketing space. Prior to OptiMine, he led consumer marketing for the $40B Optum division of United Health Group, and spent 11 years at Digital River where he helped build the first ever SaaS e-commerce platform managing over $30B in e-commerce transactions across 80 countries. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three kids and spends as much weekend time as possible at their cabin rural Wisconsin.  

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