GrowthBeat Conference Summary: “Apps, Data, and the Science of Marketing”

3 Companies to Learn from; 7 Vendors to Watch

Direct Mobile Partners managing partner Stephen Burke recently attended the VentureBeat summer conference, GrowthBeat, which focused on marketing automation case studies and startups.

While there was a strong emphasis on B2B case studies and vendors (the curious can check out B2B predictive marketing companies like Orb Intelligence, Sales Predict, and Inside View), the B2C ranks were well represented.

Three B2C companies (Zappos, 7-11, Hard Rock Cafe) stood out for their efforts to promote consumer engagement, with Wal-Mart, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Microsoft Mobile also demonstrating predictably strong investment in data mining and predictive analytics (see Key Quotes below). Seven vendors (Mixpanel, Choicestream, Privy, Medallia, Leanplum, MobileROI, Bay Sensors) also stood out and are briefly profiled below.

Companies to Learn From

Zappos and Choicestream

Lisa Archambault, Head of Demand Generation, Zappos; Eric Bosco, CEO, Choicestream

Lisa led off by saying that they are focused on finding more “real-time levers to pull” to drive engagement, and that they typically look for what she calls “engagement design partners” who are scrappy, agile startups. Choicestream is a programmatic DSP seeking to leverage contextual data to drive engagement.

They focused on a case study around leveraging weather forecasts that resulted in short-term burst ad campaigns in specific regions (localized creative) and drove double digit growth in CTR and 8% lift in sales.

Hard Rock Café and Privy

Kim Matlock, Sr. Director Digital Marketing & CRM, Hard Rock Café Ben Jabbawy, CEO, Privy 

We’ve been tracking hyper-local offer provider and Boston-based Privy for a while in the QSR space and are waiting for them to break into retail more fully. While data from Hard Rock was lite (she spoke generally about 3 campaigns they ran successfully in the US as Test and Learns before scaling across their chain), she did indicate that the gradual development of behavioral profiles based on redemptions was driving significant lift in return visits.

7-11 and Medallia

Michael Debnar, Sr. Director Digital Innovation and Principal, 7-11 Venture Fund

Probably the most interesting guy at the conference, in terms of both his role in driving Innovation for 7- 11 and also his spearheading and use of the 7-11 Venture Fund to identify, engage with, and profit from startups. One example is Belly. Mr. Debnar is looking for “disruptive” startups offering solution adjacent to his business goals, which are 100% Mobile driven.

We would encourage our readers to reach out to Mike Debnar on LinkedIn and start a conversation.

Mr. Debnar and his team are entirely focused on driving consumer engagement via mobile, with an app currently supporting about 3m users (mainly Android/male) and focused on providing “little acts of kindness” (eg Free Stuff) to users. They are increasingly doing seasonal and topical engagement to drive store traffic, and have seen double digit growth in repeat visits among app users. His work with Medallia basically a real-time survey platform) also informs their engagement decisions.

Vendors to Watch

In addition to those noted above (Privy, Belly, Medallia, Choicestream) we were impressed with:


A NYC-based adtech platform with all the right buzzwords (personalization/context/predictive analytics) making strong claims around performance but not yet demonstrating long-term relationships with clients. We will be evaluating them more deeply and will provide an update in our next report.

Bay Sensors

Early stage Bay Area startup focused on retail solutions. Seeking to link sensors, 3rd party data, and conversion data. A bit more detail provided via this YouTube video.


Winner of the Innovation Showdown last week vs. 8 other startups. Venture-backed Bay Area startup focused on mobile app engagement and optimization. If you are retooling your app framework this year take a look at their SDK and see if it works for you.


Our POV at Direct Mobile Partners is that there are a lot of Big Datasolutions providers out there but it’s the “deep personalization,driven by real-time engagement tied to real consumer value, that is the basis for success at the intersection of bricks and mortar. Innovative leaders at major brands are testing more, testing faster, and scaling when they see success.

Increasingly, its also about Context and leveraging contextual engagement and insights to deliver Real- Time Value to consumers. In addition to baseline analytics (sessions, usage, app behavior inside your app) the increasing sophistication of machine learning/predictive analytics tied to mobile phone behaviors and the ability to tap into sensors and other data sources provide marketers with new, intriguing opportunities to personalize and improve engagement and ROI.

Key Quotes

“Real-time triggers are the key. You need to find the seamless moment for the right message....we are focused entirely on how to personalize, trigger engagement, and make the experience awesome.”--Alex Shultz, VP Growth Marketing, Facebook

“Mobile is the glue between Web and Stores. We want customers to use our apps and sites to plan their visit and while in-store....anyone in brick & mortar has to conquer this challenge. Mobile, from a store perspective, is where its at.”--Loren Simon, Sr. Director Online Marketing, Wal-Mart

“Branded apps simply have to change their install-to-value ratio. We know within 7 days whether a user is engaged and will remain engaged. If you lose them in the first 7 days its incredibly expensive to get them back.”--Chris Erickson, COO,

“Are ‘campaigns” really necessary when you have long-term and real-time insights into user interests and behavior, and have contextual data that enables continuous engagement.”?--Nicolas Draca, Global Marketing Operations, LinkedIn