Today we have selected Roman Vrublivskyi to take the interview. He is the Chief Commercial Officer at SmartHub.
First, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
COVID has become a trigger for large-scale transformation; it simultaneously changed our lives, behavior, content consumption and encouraged businesses to adapt and readjust their practices. This period of uncertainty has given our company a huge push to rethink our strategies in terms of our approach to work, planning, and communications.
We used this time to deepen our understanding of customer experience; as a result, we managed to upgrade our product to SmartHub 2.0 version and aligned it with our customers’ expectations even better.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?
Currently, I am a Chief Commercial Officer at SmartHub. The company hired me in May 2019, which was a big-time because I started working closely with cloud-based enterprise-level advertising technologies. Before that, I dealt with business development in the IT/SaaS industry and specialized in the B2B sales niche and strategic partnerships.
For now, I’m responsible for developing strategies and tactics that facilitate business growth and product development.
How does your company innovate?
Launching a niche or highly specialized advertising business in the new realms doesn’t take a lot of time and investment. White-label platforms require no coding, no time-wasting with licensing or integrating algorithmic technologies for selling and buying ads (RTB). Practically, in 7 days, you can become the founder of your ad platform; this is the most obvious innovation of such solutions as SmartHub.
However, more innovations make SmartHub unique in its niche. We continuously upgrade the system following IAB safety standards, privacy regulations, boost system capacities, extend analytics and integration types (VAST to RTB, RTB to VAST, RTB to Prebid cross-connection trading is so far available only in SmartHub).
Nevertheless, no matter how progressive and accelerated your technology is, it won’t be effective if you don’t know how to operate it. The effectiveness of ad exchange operation largely depends on people; that’s why the third pillar of our innovation is a people-based approach. Our team extends the notion of customer service and goes beyond typical industry customer service standards to make sure that the advertising businesses of our customers thrive.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
2021 was a year of challenges and opportunities simultaneously, especially for ad tech businesses. As previous economic downturns show, many businesses have achieved great success by increasing their investments in the right assets.
Outstanding customer experience is something that every digital service provider strives to achieve these days. Even with best-in-breed and easy-to-set-up technology, building and operating an ad exchange is not a piece of cake, and that’s why we, first of all, invest in people.
By providing meaningful communication, onboarding, ongoing advice, and timely support, we showcase to our clients how they can use all the leverages to make the utmost of their ad exchange. We educate our clients on using analytics, applying filters, and using a traffic throttling adapter to match supply and demand effectively.
We grow our internal expertise with our team, and I’m sure that we managed to differentiate ourselves during the pandemics by investing in people and customer care improvement.
Did you have to make difficult choices and the lessons learned?
Naturally, during the pandemics, many companies shifted their focus towards maximizing the efficiency and relevance of investments and efforts they make. While developing new integration or feature, for us, it is important to clearly understand the task of each and cut off those that are “nice to have” but not necessary.
Setting priorities and planning during the pandemics are the most challenging things; that’s why we monitor trends, analyze feedback from our customers, and make our analysis to pinpoint the product development roadmap.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
The main trend among digital services is improving the customer experience, which is especially important when most tasks have moved offline to online. Like the rest of the companies, we try to streamline our communication and customer servicing while working remotely.
We use various tools to ensure timely communication and best quality service; some include a task management system, a tracking system, Zoom, and Slack to jump on regular calls with clients and communicate with each other.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Our product has enough innovative features to position itself as a unique solution in the market. Sure, the market is rich and oversaturated with all kinds of marketing solutions today. However, we already noticed a growing demand for solutions whose teams exceed the notion of simple customer support teams.
Today, true innovation boils down to the right combination of technology with people that know how to maximize the efficiency of this technology. To this day, our team is our main advantage. They are the driving force that helps our clients enter the market with new solutions, capitalize on them, and quickly adapt to the new environment even with minimal experience in programmatic.
Is there something new you’ve prepared for your customers for 2022?
We’ve just upgraded the system to version SmartHub 2.0, which means SmartHub owners will have many new possibilities to grow their ad exchanges in 2022. Updates have redefined the media trading inside the marketplace; first of all, it happened thanks to the added JS Tags integration with publishers on the supply side.
The filter list manager was enriched to refine the marketplace’s traffic better. We’ve also added extended analytic tools with more than 20 metrics and dimensions to make understanding media-trading dynamics easier.
Finally, we upgraded the algorithm of the traffic throttling mechanism. This unique tool helps the owners to match supply with demand more effectively. Now it also serves as a profit optimization tool based on impression prices. The new metric is now involved in analyzing the traffic R CPM allowing the platform to increase the chances for the right match.
What kind of people do you need to build a successful ad tech team?
A good team is everything in ad tech. At SmartHub, everything started with a single skilled account manager, who trained newcomers when the team expanded to four. First, account management needed to learn how to keep internal communication effective.
Second, we needed to grow and expand expertise in programmatic constantly. By keeping a finger on the pulse of the latest trends, we created an unmatching and highly competitive team of employees (including the tech team). Determination has helped us to build and test efficient communication cycles with clients.
In 3 years, SmartHub created a high-quality, responsive service full of talented people who are well-versed in numerous disciplines, including tech, advertising, business development, and client relationships. With their help and expertise, SmartHub accomplished a total of 110+ cases of platform installation for our clients whose businesses rapidly grew in only a few months after implementation.
Now we can say that we specialize in assembling and educating the teams; that’s why in 2021, we decided to start outsourcing services to support clients’ businesses and help them find the right employees.
What is the role of the support team in the ad-tech industry?
It is tremendous. As I mentioned before, programmatic is not a piece of cake, and building/operating your ad exchange can be a challenge even for experienced professionals. SmartHub’ hacked’ the building part with a cost- and time-efficient white-label model. However, we later concluded that customer support could become critical during decision-making for such complicated industries as ad tech.
We don’t sell the technology and leave our customers one-to-one with their challenges. Surprisingly enough, it is a common problem that plagues technology service providers. We always go the extra mile for our customers, from the start of their journey with us to the end. This way, customer service turned into the main priority for the SmartHub team – we redefined the process of working with clients from standard and industry-typical to highly relational.
Your Final Thoughts
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated global digitalization, and this growing effect will continue into 2022. Many businesses will keep transforming, which will inevitably affect the building and growing businesses and providing customer service.
The pandemics have changed the mindsets of entrepreneurs; it has become especially important for companies to apply a flexible approach when building advertising strategies and marketing plans. Non-standard solutions that simplify ad tech entry are now at the forefront because they allow businesses to quickly set up, customize, grow and scale their ad tech platforms.
Meanwhile, while the world moves from offline to online, the importance of customer service and reliable support only grows. This means that customer-centric solutions like SmartHub will gain a huge competitive advantage in the future.
• Spokesperson: Roman Vrublivskyi
• Company: SmartHub
• Website: https://smart-hub.io/