Jo Gaines on Krux’s milestone moment: 12 months inside Salesforce

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 8 November 2017
Jo Gaines

The Krux notch on Salesforce’s bedpost created industry waves a year ago, with many heralding the US$700 million move as a big sign of ad tech consolidation waves to come.

At the time it seemed CRM and tech giant Salesforce had been on a mergers and acquisitions spree, spending an estimated US$5-6 billion dollars on a total of 10 companies. But how did the acquisition translate locally in Australia and how has Krux-boss turned MD APAC at Salesforce for advertising, Jo Gaines, been tracking since the move?

“Going from a small startup to a large technology company was always going to be a big change”, Gaines tells AdNews. 

Aside from a job title change, Gaines says the acquisition has been “an incredibly smooth and a successful process”.

As part of the acquisition, Gaines continued to manage the APAC business for the DMP as well as taking on responsibility for managing the advertising studio and data studio products across the region.

She says the business has continued to grow at a rapid pace with her team doubling in size in the past 12 months, which was partly led by its expansion in the APAC market. Salesforce teams’ strong expertise has been helping Krux upskill, as well as create new roles and jobs. 

“Being part of the Salesforce family means that our teams have been able to access skills and knowledge that we didn’t have access to previously,” Gaines says, adding relocating to the Salesforce offices within only two weeks of the announcement was also instrumental in helping the teams collaborate.

Thinking back to the news in October last year Gaines says her initial reaction was excitement and trepidation.  

“Obviously, an announcement of this magnitude can create some apprehension as it means substantial changes in terms of how you run your business and some unknown as to where you will be heading to next, but for a startup it’s the outcome you dream of,” she says.

“Very few startups are put into the position that we found ourselves in. I felt it was a poignant moment in terms of maturing as a business, from our teenage to adult years.”

See: Krux to be ‘the brain’ of the Salesforce marketing cloud

Gaines says it was important to be transparent with its clients and communicate the news both verbally and in writing; with customers curious to understand if and how their relationship with the Krux team would be impacted.

“The fact that 100% of our workforce was retained gave them peace of mind and made communication and business continuation more seamless,” she adds.

It was only in June this year that the Krux name was axed and the business became known as Salesforce DMP. While Gaines says of course there’s that attachment to the brand name, especially given she was a founding member Down Under, she says the Salesforce DMP name change was also a milestone moment for the Krux business.

“It was next step towards maturing and transitioning out of our ‘teenage years’ as a startup,” Gaines says.

“The Salesforce brand gives us enormous scale and opens the door to a number of opportunities we would never have had access to before.”

In terms of how 'Krux’s' core offering has changed since the deal, Gaines says today its proposition is based on a more rounded approach to offer a complete end-to-end data offering to customers.

“It’s about connecting known and unknown data points, as well as connecting what the customer knows about their own customers with all the different digital signals being produced by Salesforce DMP. Salesforce has given us the ability to bring all that data together,” she says.

While she wouldn’t be drawn on exact figures, Gaines says “a solid number” of its existing customers have gone on to implement other Salesforce products – and some were already using Salesforce products before the acquisition.

The future of marketing

Gaines says DMPs have already created “the future of marketing”, bringing to market accurate, tangible data that people didn’t have access to before – something the industry was craving for for many years.

“We are now looking at a state of the art end-to-end solution where all your data sits in one place. Having all the pieces of the jigsaw fit together easily and accurately makes it much easier to solve complex problems and identify gaps that need to be filled,” Gaines explains.

And Salesforce’s point of difference from other DMPs?

“Salesforce DMP is a purpose-built DMP, born in the age of mobile and cloud. This cloud-first mindset is part of our DNA, of our heritage, and it means we are able to have a very personalised approach with each customer, tailoring functionalities to what each individual client wants.

“We’ve also been on AWS (Amazon Web Services) from the beginning, which put us ahead of the curve in terms of the cloud services we are able to offer to our customers.”

On the subject of working directly with DMP vs an agency approach, Gaines says both shouldn’t be pitted against each other. 

“Most of our successful DMP customers use their agency to manage the Salesforce DMP platform for them. It is still important to have experts in their field be part of the advertising mix, and knowing how DMP can be used in the most efficient and smart way,” she says.

In such an era of the great data swell we also asked Gaines for her top three data dos and data don’ts:

Data Don’ts

  • Don’t leave data unused. Doing something with your data will end up, in the long run, better than doing nothing at all. Failure is never failure when it comes to data.
  • Don’t use data in isolation. People are still - and will always be - a vital part of the equation. Storytelling will always play a role in selling the right product to customers. Even more so in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) era, humans will have a pivotal role to play in making sure every data point used, every decision made, has that extra layer of strategic and creative human thinking that technology cannot manufacture.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Make sure you use data to test and measure marketing ideas and theories.

Data Do’s

  • Share your data with partners. Sometimes, actually most of the time, 1+1 can equal 3. Think creatively about who you can share your data with to improve the knowledge you have of your own customers.
  • Involve all relevant internal departments and stakeholders. You might find a case point or insight that you haven’t considered before.
  • Get the most out of your technology. Prioritise understanding how technology within your business can help you and your customers. Utilise everything the tool has to offer.

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