'If your strategy is built around just multi-channel and acquisition, you will become a commoditised toolset'

UK-based digital advertising veteran Kate Burns, recently joined cloud marketing company SHIFT, as managing director for UK and Europe (its first operations outside of its US base), as it aims to take on more established marketing cloud service providers such as Adobe and SalesForce.

ExchangeWire spoke with the ex-Google UK, and AOL Europe chief to find out how she believes SHIFT can prove a point of difference in the market by adopting an open approach.

Where does SHIFT sit in the current social media eco-system?

I think most people would put us in the social advertising platform bucket. However, we are more of a combination of what the market understands as a social advertising platform and marketing cloud technology. Our marketing cloud service provides solutions for planning, advertising and analysing social marketing campaigns for global brands, including automation of their social marketing campaigns across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

How do you compare to other marketing clouds, such as Salesforce?

Our marketing cloud is open thus allowing us to include the best-in-class integrations in the market. We believe every marketer’s needs are different, and therefore they should have access to a technology platform that allows them to integrate technologies that they are currently leveraging, or indeed integrate new solutions. Unlike other marketing clouds that provide marketers with a one size fits all solution, ours was built entirely from the ground up. Through our various third-party integration, marketers have a platform that brings together all the tools and data relevant to their business, in one place.

You are positioning yourself as an open marketing cloud? What does that mean? Have you open APIs that other point solutions are building on?

As I previously mentioned, SHIFT’s open marketing cloud is open because we’ve taken the approach of allowing third-party technologies to integrate into our platform through our open API.

Most marketing clouds in the landscape today take a closed approach, either building or acquiring products marketers need to be successful with their marketing cloud. The challenge with that approach is technology and innovation move too quickly for one technology organisation to keep up.

Allowing for third-party integrations enables us to provide marketers greater flexibility and access to the best-in-class tools available today on one platform. We have over a dozen integrations built on our open API, technologies spanning across content creation to custom audience targeting and creative solutions, among others. As a result, marketers can leverage our open infrastructure to customise the solutions they need to be successful.

What kind of benefit will international marketers see when using SHIFT’s open marketing cloud?

Collaborating across teams is much easier with our open marketing cloud, and when you're working across internal and external teams, as well as time zones, you need the best collaboration capabilities possible. Through the ‘planning’ layer on SHIFT, users have a collaborative workspace to easily share ideas, QA creative and work together to launch campaigns across multiple platforms.

This saves time by streamlining communication and provides transparency on the campaign during each step of the marketing lifecycle. Bottom line, we’re helping marketers maximise ROI by providing tools to make smart, real-time marketing decisions.

What challenges do you expect to face when selling this solution to marketers in the UK? What are they looking from a social management platform like SHIFT?

We’ve been in the UK market for less than a year. With any new technology, I expect to face some challenge with hesitation on adoption from agencies and brands. I’m fortunate enough to have been in the business and the international market for some time now, so leveraging the relationship I’ve built will be key in helping us overcome this challenge.

Just as important will be our ability to deliver on our promise to provide industry-leading technology that helps marketers maximise ROI. Once the brands and agencies give us an opportunity to demo the product, I think they’ll agree we have product that allows them to leverage the data and social advertising solutions they need to reach customers efficiently and effectively. Additionally, we’re lucky to have DN Capital as an investor. As a capital investment firm based in London, they have a deep understanding of the market and strong ties with global media leaders.

Do you think that ultimately there is a risk of commoditisation in the social platform space as more players look to offer a multi-channel management solution? And in that eventuality how do you ensure some kind of differentiation?

This is why we launched the Open Marketing Cloud. No two business are the same, Coke and Pepsi may be soft drink companies but they operate totally different business and require different tools and data. As a result, a one size fits all solution is not an option for these brands and its why we have been able to differentiate in a competitive landscape.

If your strategy is built around just multi-channel management and acquiring marketing tools than you will become a commoditised toolset. Our mission is to never force a marketer to use the same set of tools because no two businesses are alike, and that for us is how you build a marketing technology business that actually solves customers business problems and drives their business forward.