Q: Alterian acquired MediaSurface earlier this year – how are you integrating that into your offerings, and how did that help move Alterian forward?
A: The channels we focus on are individual or direct or personalized types of marketing, which tend to have more measurement and definition and work well with analytics. With MediaSurface, Alterian brought in Web content capabilities, so Alterian can now better control content across multiple channels. We're seeing that 2.0 trend on the Web, where sites are moving from mass appeal to individualization, and they need to be a part of an analytics-based platform to really do that and exist in a multichannel way.
Q: How has the market for mergers and acquisitions changed recently?
A: Before, there were hot multipliers going on in online spaces, but now there are a lot of acquisitions. Especially in the tech space, there are a lot of small companies, and a lot of those are struggling to find their next round of funding capital or growing on their own, so we're seeing a lot of activity where companies are being shopped to integrate into larger companies. However, at the same time, larger companies are being more cautious because of the cost.
Q: What is Alterian's main focus these days? Any big growth areas?
A: We're seeing a heavy amount of organic-, research- and development-based growth, and that will always be the case. We also have a healthy amount of acquisitions in that mix, which we are continually evaluating; in this economy, we have to be very, very cautious in terms of acquisitions. Both organically and acquisition-wise, we've been making moves in online areas because of its growth and the ability to trend or lend itself to individualization.
Q: Alterian just released its “Alterian Marketing Trends for 2009” report. What's the top trend you're seeing?
A: One of the main threads in the top trends is that measurement and accountability are key. All of those speak to a shift to direct or individualized marketing, and I see, especially in a downturned economy, that it's really hard for a CEO to endorse a spend if you can't prove return on that spend. Marketers need the direct channels to work through this, and they need analytics to understand what's going on around it. In general, one sees a downturned economy shift from mass to more direct marketing, where people can really measure and target these things.
Q: What advice would you give to marketers right now?
A: My single biggest point would be to understand your customer. I know it sounds basic, but it's amazing how few marketers really do. Whether you're working on retention or acquisition, you can't do anything efficiently in any channel if you don't really understand your customer.