With 13 years of online advertising experience under his belt, Lothar Krause – the vice president of global advisory services at Sociomantic labs – knows a thing or two about customer acquisition via the world wide web.

Formerly the head of Zalando’s Online Marketing division, Krause also served time as an executive sales director at affiliate network zanox. He has seen programmatic display expert Sociomantic blossom into a company with over 16 offices worldwide, and managed to spare a brief moment to catch up with PerformanceIN in the lead up to Performance Marketing Insights: Europe. 

How would you summarise your role and responsibilities as vice president of global advisory services?

LK: In 2012 and 2013, Sociomantic experienced tremendous growth — more than doubling our team and our business in a very short time. More clients, team members, offices, markets – all this created the need for a stronger account management team, extensive knowledge-sharing, thorough training and better client consultation. Those are what the global advisory team is responsible for. 

We are Sociomantic’s global consulting division. Our mission is to align the company’s international business activities and to serve as a go-to department for knowledge-sharing between both teams and clients. We share market insights across verticals and regions, we help our teams and our clients keep up with the rapid developments within the industry, and we also provide research, best practices, training and general process improvements.

My role within the advisory team is to manage all our consulting efforts and align our global strategies. My previous experience from the vendor and the advertiser side was extremely helpful in this mission. Knowing the challenges our clients are facing was – and still is – a big advantage.

From eBay to zanox to Zalando to Sociomantic Labs, you have some big hitters on your CV. Can you name one key teaching from each company that has helped you get to where you are now?

LK: When I started my career at eBay, I was blown away by the velocity and the dynamics of online marketing. Gaining my first experiences in this crazy industry, it quickly became clear that this is the place to be. Then, at zanox I had the opportunity to learn about different business models and industries while expanding my network within the online marketing scene. The lesson learned: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in online marketing. Every business has its own specific needs that service providers need to cater to.

This became even clearer when I experienced it first-hand as the head of online marketing at Zalando. For me Zalando was the big online marketing playground everyone dreams of: dynamic, young, ambitious, innovative. This great company spirit was the perfect environment to rethink online marketing by creating a more data-driven approach based on CLV (customer lifetime value). It was one phenomenal growth story, and the perfect preparation for my next challenge at Sociomantic. My experience in sales and account management combined with my advertiser knowledge provided the perfect recipe to help the company grow. Data-driven advertising solutions based on client needs – this is where the pieces of the puzzle came together.  

How do you envisage things changing following the sale to Tesco/dunnhumby?

LK: For us it was incredible to see that there’s a company that has been working with CLV and loyalty for 25 years – wow. Our online capabilities are the perfect match for such extensive offline expertise, which made the first two months of our collaboration extremely enriching for both sides. These are exciting times during which we are working hard to expand our understanding of the connected customer journey across different industries.

Our goal is to combine our offline and online expertise in order to create first-class opportunities for marketers ready to use the full scope of their data to make their messages more personal and relevant. It was also great to experience the cultural fit between both companies. Naturally, developing a partnership of this scale takes time and requires careful internal and external alignment – all while improving our existing solutions and growing our business at the same time. We are excited to see where the journey will go!

How is living and working in Berlin and why is the city such a startup hotspot?

LK: As a Berliner, of course the city’s political history was extremely moving. As an online marketing professional, it has also been the city’s development towards a online marketing hub that impressed me most. It’s crazy thinking back to my first job at eBay when the only other major employers in online marketing were Jamba and zanox. Today, Berlin is the online marketing capital and the European hot spot for startups. I haven’t heard of any other European city where companies are so international and dynamic.

Sociomantic itself is the best example for this: we have 250 employees in 17 offices worldwide, and only 15% of our 120 employees in Berlin are actually German while only five of them are from Berlin. What makes Berlin so exciting for the startup scene is that its charm attracts so many highly-qualified professionals from around the world, and that it combines high quality of living with relatively low living costs.

Can you give us an insight into what we can expect from your session in Berlin?

LK: I’m very excited to share the stage with our partner from Internetstores. Markus Winter is their Chief Marketing Officer and an experienced online marketing professional. He will bring to the stage some exciting first-hand e-commerce insights. Our goal is to address our topic – personalisation in the multi-device world – from the vendor and the advertiser perspective. Therefore we will talk about traffic splits between desktop and mobile, customer lifetime value (CLV), CRM data, as well as the new possibilities to reach users through programmatic display.

Along with programmatic display, what do you expect to be the hottest topics discussed at Performance Marketing Insights?

LK: I believe that data will be one of the hottest topics at this year’s event. As a consequence, I also believe that the role of the business intelligence department will become more and more important.

Another data-related topic is attribution across all devices – a challenge that every marketer will have to tackle in order to fine-tune their online marketing strategy. Looking a bit further into the future, new possibilities for one-to-one marketing at scale will gain center-stage in the targeting and segmentation discussion.