Zeta Global’s David A. Steinberg on Web 2.5, Expanding the Digital Marketing Ecosystem and Nailing Attribution


The topic of digital transformation has been a priority throughout the pandemic, its pace unfolding at speeds never seen before. Some may think this wave is behind us, but the reality is that the transformation will only accelerate in the years to come. This is due to a growing power shift between brands and consumers, the latter being more in control than ever. With that in mind, customer acquisition, retention and overall growth has never been more important. As a result, CEOs and their teams, across industries, are looking for the best ways to create great customer experiences that not only meet, but exceed expectations.

With all of this in mind, I wanted to speak to a CEO with his pulse on the future of digital transformation and best practices for brands and their leadership to keep in mind as the premiums on growth keep on going. to increase. I recently met David A. Steinberg, Co-Founder, CEO of Marketing Technology Powerhouse Zeta, a company that continues to be at the forefront of harnessing data and knowledge to generate CX. and exceptional growth through the Zeta marketing platform. David is a serial entrepreneur who has also been CEO of many innovative companies such as InPhonic and Sterling Cellular. Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Billee Howard: David, glad you were able to join me for this conversation and thank you again for the invitation to Zeta Live! Let’s dive into the heart of the matter. Can you tell me about the transfer of power from brands to consumers and what you referred to in one of our previous conversations: “the dawn” of Web 3.0?

David Steinberg: Web 3.0 is definitely coming. It’s a matter of how long it will take to really start affecting Web 2.0. If you go back to the beginning of commerce a few thousand years ago, consumers only had the option of buying what was in front of them – they really didn’t have a choice. Then we started offering options in the markets, and people were able to choose what they wanted to buy. From the industrial revolution, we entered an ecosystem where companies started to decide what they were going to manufacture and distribute.

The evolution of the Internet has a similar pattern. In Web 1.0, consumers had to choose what was in front of them. Web 2.0 went further, where a group of companies decided what content and what products would be distributed. Web 3.0 will change everything, where the consumer will have the power to influence decisions about what companies should do, manufacture and sell to. them by controlling their own data on a decentralized system.

Howard: It’s very useful. Thank you. With that in mind, one of the key words of what you just said that I took away from our first conversation was optionality. What we have discussed is that this will only continue to intensify over the coming year. With that in mind, what should marketers focus on when it comes to optionity and its escalation?

Steinberg: When you think about what marketers really need to worry about today, it’s what I call Web 2.5. You have 2.0, you have 3.0, and it will take a long time for them to converge.

Here’s how I explain Web 2.5: Two or three companies now control over 50% of global digital marketing spend. With digital, you need to have the ability to build very detailed attribution models. This is what will give the best visibility and return on investment that we have ever had, yet you currently have two or three companies controlling it. What you’re going to see is that marketers are going beyond Google, Facebook, and Amazon, and other retailers, such as Walmart, will try to move into this space.

As the market evolves, brands will need the remaining 50% of spend to be more efficient. It will be good for the whole ecosystem because if there are only three or four companies controlling all the price increases, it is not the healthiest environment for anyone.

I think marketers need to think about this notion of Web 2.5, which I think is where you use data and artificial intelligence to figure out what consumers want and give it to them, rather than to simply market your products as they exist. I think this is where Web 2.5 is heading.

Howard: It makes perfect sense. In our last conversation you said transformation rates have only just started to scratch the surface amid the pandemic and the pace will continue to accelerate rapidly in the years to come. How can and should marketers respond to this and the unprecedented levels of growth expected today?

Steinberg: I have never, in my 32 year career as CEO of multiple companies, seen a time when growth is at a higher value premium. CEOs push all their marketing directors to death. It’s all about growth, isn’t it? This puts pressure on marketers to focus on what’s going on and where it’s going.

I want to be clear: I think some of the growth rates we’re seeing this year, quite frankly, Billee, are artificial, because a lot of companies have had bad years during COVID. I think from a percentage point of view, we’re going to see the growth slow down, but from a dollar point of view, it will grow faster.

You’re going to see marketers struggling to deliver and to do that, they’ll need to switch from analog to digital faster. It’s going to be about meeting consumers where they are – whether in stores, on a device, or watching TV, and creating a connected experience on those platforms. CTV, addressable TV and OTT are a major component of this evolution. I used to talk about how the TV would go, but it’s not going anywhere. TV is just going to go digital and the market will continue to fracture due to countless streaming services. We will see the younger generation, and very soon the older generations, continue to cut the ropes at a faster pace. As all of this happens, marketers are going to need to invest in a better ability to meet customers where they are, on an individualized basis, in order to thrive.

Howard: I think the most innovative and effective attribution models are going to be essential to almost everything you just said, especially your last comments. Can you share your take on this topic in general and more specifically on how Zeta is helping brands solve these issues?

Steinberg: When you think about where marketing is going, the ability to create ROI has always been the holy grail. A famous marketing pioneer once said, “I know 50% of my advertising is a waste of money. I just don’t know which half. On the Zeta marketing platform, we can now get down to the 97% that is wasted. People tell me all the time, how come Zeta cuts the costs of very large companies to build, maintain and monetize customers by over 50%? The answer is, we can weed out people who are not interested in purchasing your products.

The other big move in the industry is the CDP ecosystem. Zeta has one of the most differentiated CDPs or customer data platforms. When we import our customers’ data into a CDP, we then merge it with the 225 million Americans who have chosen to be part of our data ecosystem. Funny, as the regulations have evolved, it seems our original premise of getting people to sign up to be a part of our data ecosystem continues to only increase in value. .

We are able to build hyper-targeted models not only of who is interested in your products, but who is currently on the market and who will be approved for them. When we look at our financial services, insurance, health and wellness, and automotive customers, we only show their products to customers who are actively in the market and have a strong propensity to want to buy. this product. The ability to be hyper-targeted before entering the market is just a huge cost savings. We have full attribution because it’s all deterministic data. We’re really focused on helping large businesses build, maintain, and monetize customers at a cost significantly lower than they could without us.


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