This time last year, world-leading marketing technology business Ve Global announced its rebrand and a £15 million investment following a turbulent first half of 2017, and one year on, Ve Global has landed on its feet.
David Marrinan-Hayes, chief executive officer at Ve Global, has helped define the business and execute their digital marketing and product strategy with a focus on digital change management and revenue growth projects. PerformanceIN caught up with David to see how far they've come.
Following last year’s rebrand, how are things currently looking at Ve?
David Marrian-Hayes: We have spent the last 15 months rebuilding the company from the inside out. We're targeting revenues of £32 million this year and will break even by November/December. By next year, we should grow to at least £60 million and be fully profitable.
Are you able to share some of the exciting goals you’ve achieved this year?
DMH: It's been a huge year for Ve for both our commercial and corporate business. Ve launched a worldwide recruitment drive to meet the company’s expansion plans across 18 international markets and increase the client base of 4,500 e-commerce businesses worldwide.
We've also launched ground-breaking industry partnerships, such as the partnership with NetEnt, which is believed to be the largest data-collaboration of its kind in iGaming.
Ve pressed ahead with expansion plans into the US and Latin America – two key markets for us moving forward.
The company also won several awards, including the award for Best Publishing Platform at the Digiday European Awards 2018 and an Asia E-commerce Award for our activities in the APAC region.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
DMH: Plenty! The focus for the first six to eight months was to stabilise the business, which meant maintaining revenues, driving efficiencies and reducing wastage to ensure the company was operating sustainably.
It's been an all-consuming pursuit for myself and the team but we succeeded in righting the ship, which meant that we could figure out where we sat in the ecosystem and what value Ve brings to the world.
The business was born out of basket abandonment and retargeting but we've moved far beyond that, with our marketing and advertising technologies working in harmony to offer a unified solution that offers a friction-free experience for the consumer, from discovery through to purchase. Each week, we're introducing new solutions and features that offer greater personalisation to the consumer and that translates to higher conversion rates and increased sales for online merchants.
You’ve invested a lot in product development and worked with some big brands – can you tell us about some recent client projects you’ve worked on?
DMH: Given that I've spent 20 years developing and scaling digital product, this has certainly been the most rewarding part of my journey with Ve so far.
We’ve built a world-class product team to put us back at the forefront of innovation, with a development methodology focused on the pain points of existing big-brand clients across multiple markets, in order to solve their personalisation and conversion challenges.
One example is the work we've been doing with the ground-breaking British manufacturer, Gtech. We've spent the past nine months working behind the scenes with Gtech on a series of experiments using Ve’s next-generation on-site Digital Assistant, which is built using a mix of real-time intent and customer data, and leverages the logic of ‘Shopper Modes’ with the objective being; to deliver relevancy and personalisation at every touch point on the Gtech website.
Ve’s product team wanted to validate corresponding patterns of behaviour and subsequent performance using the Shopper Modes methodology versus a standard campaign setup. Using the Shopper Modes as a strategic guide to engagement and delivering relevancy to the end user increased average engagement rates by over 400%.
The campaign continues as an exercise in discovery and refinement to produce the best results, which will lead to the official launch of Digital Assistant 2.0 later this year.
What exciting tech are you currently developing?
DMH: We're just about to launch a new suite of products, which we're taking to market at the end of Q3. Ve remains committed to its vision of personalising online experiences at scale for an audience on one. We’re tracking over 500 million user journeys each month and using that contextual, profile and demographic insight to create new solutions that deliver better experiences for consumers while solving some of the biggest market challenges.
One such challenge is the disconnect between marketing and advertising channels and technologies that has led to significant destruction in online acquisition and conversion spend. By unifying our ad tech and martech solutions, we’re now able to nurture customers towards conversion, from discovery through to purchase, and beyond.
We’re also now rolling out innovative solutions as ‘Programmatic UX’, which will change site layout and content automatically based on the customer data we collect. We’re extremely excited about it and will be sharing more information on this solution shortly – it is currently being tested by major retail brands worldwide.
As advocates of ad tech, where do you think the future of consumer-focused experiences is heading?
DMH: There's a great number of cutting-edge ad tech developments on the horizon that promise more meaningful, customer-focused experiences. However, ad tech operating in isolation won’t result in the betterment of the consumer experience unless we address the elephant in room.
Bounce rates on traffic driven from paid channels – display in particular – remain ridiculously high, which I believe is down to a disconnect between the call-to-action and the on-site experience that needs to be solved.
To nail a real, consumer-focused experience you need agencies focused on conversion as a campaign outcome and technologies that enable transmedia storytelling; the technique of telling a single story across multiple platforms. This will turn advertising into something that a large percentage of audiences find truly valuable as opposed to an interruption as well as reduce wastage and increase revenues for online merchants.
Why do you think consumer-centric solutions are so important in today’s digital landscape?
DMH: They’re important because the consumer journey, from discovery through to purchase, isn’t linear; it’s interrupted at every stage by extensive product research, price comparison and other online research types.
Without knowing the motivations, pain points and behaviours of consumers at each stage of the conversion funnel and building solutions that ‘trigger’ with the right message using the right touchpoint, you will try and force an experience that isn’t relevant to the consumer at that time.
The necessity, then, is to integrate solutions that activate based on demographic data, profile data – persistent persona behaviour – and insights from in-session analytics. Otherwise, your tech will be an annoyance rather than a helpful solution that nurtures a customer into making the right decision.
It sounds like there are exciting times ahead for Ve Global. Tell us what’s in the pipeline?
DMH: We're currently fundraising to the sum of £15 million that will place us into profitability and beyond but more crucially, the unified solutions we’re rolling out now are helping us achieve our vision of personalising online experiences for an audience of one.