The Latest News In Ad Tech
Lithuania is the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic countries which have become a regional center of excellence for global technology companies looking to harness the top-notch quality competencies the country has to offer – whether it’s in the fields of software engineering, AI-driven solutions, Martech or ad-tech. Lithuania has definitely become a hub of innovation over the past years, the number of start-ups has more than doubled over the last decade making it the second-largest tech hub in Europe by a number of licensed companies. I have had the pleasure of sitting down with Vlad Zhovtenko, CEO of RedTrack Technologies Ltd, to talk about the robust SaaS platform they are running, Redtrack.io.
About Vlad Zhovtenko, CED of RedTrack
RedTrack was founded in 2018 and it has definitely upped the game by developing a platform that allows affiliate marketers and media buyers of all sizes to tackle complex performance tracking and data analysis using a single, agile tool that scales and adapts as they grow. The company has received €425,000 in a seed funding round led by Genesis Investments and Iron Wolf Capital, to further develop its machine learning functionality while strengthening the onboarding process for their new customers. RedTrack definitely has a promising future ahead of them, where they are trying to focus on having a deep understanding of their users, what they need, what they value, their abilities but also their limitations.
1. Judy: Hello Vlad, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today and talk about Redtrack.io and how it became a leading tracking platform. To start off, could you please tell us a little bit more about yourself, how you started in this type of business and how RedTrack went from an idea to revolutionize the digital industry?
Vlad Zhovtenko: Thank you for having me, Judy. That is usually a very difficult question for me because I just enjoy doing digital marketing and it happens naturally. However, there are several key events that shaped the path
It was back in 1997 when I was working as an evening receptionist and I saw a sticker on the modem (that’s the thing people used to connect to the internet back in the days). It read: “Do you Yahoo?” I typed in the name adding .com hoping I would hit the right place. After I first entered Yahoo.com the world as I knew changed for me. For the younger generation it is hard to understand, but back in the days we used to get pieces of information we were looking for from books, and usually, those books would usually be found in libraries. And then -boom- all of sudden I had everything and even more at the tips of my fingers. From there on, I stumbled upon ClickZ, learned about digital marketing, and told myself – this is what I want to do. And I’m still proudly doing it.
My next step in my digital career, let’s call it like that, was back in 2004 when I was working for a Boston-based SaaS company that was very data-driven and as usual, when it comes to data-driven companies, you seem to never have enough data for the developers. So we decided to build our own analytics, specifically geared for performance marketing and it was truly amazing. It lived for about two months and then died as it crumbled under a load of data from one website. The technology was simply not ready to do what we wanted it to do at that point in time. During 2017 I got a second chance to once again try to create an analytical and optimization platform for digital marketers. But of course, we had to start from somewhere and decided to start with the arbitrage affiliates – as they need very granular real-time data to keep their campaigns optimized. As we evolved and grew we started to turn RedTrack.io from just a tracker into an ad tracking and conversion attribution platform, providing marketers with real-time data, alerts, and automation to maximize return on their ad spend, capture the customer journey and evaluate marketing performance across all the digital channels. We still have a year or two to go until we will reach the desired state of the product and I expect that by that time things will change again and we will have a lot more work to do to keep the innovation going.
RedTrack as a Tracking Solution
2. Judy: There are a lot of different tracking solutions these days, what makes RedTrack different and how does it stand out compared to other tracking solutions?
Vlad Zhovtenko: I would say the vision and the team. We are not just an ad tracker – we are on a mission to make the work of digital marketers creative, though turning data into insights and automating routing operations.
I am blessed with and very proud to lead the best team in the industry.
3. Judy: How did RedTrack achieve international success and what can other tech start-ups learn from it?
Vlad Zhovtenko: That is the question I always hear and I still do not completely understand it. We are creating a digital product for digital marketers – it operates, like we do, in an environment with few boundaries and works for people who naturally tend to explore, experiment, learn and adapt. That mostly addresses the word “international”.
Success – everyone defines it differently, as a startup, we survived for more than three years, we found a good product/market fit and we maintained healthy growth. And as with every startup, we have a wide array of things to improve upon and issues to solve. What can other tech start-ups learn from us? There is no universal recipe, but there is a common truth about growing startups, from understanding your product, your market, your metrics, and your competition to actually measuring, monitoring, and re-evaluating them on a regular basis. And that list of common truths goes on. And you need to learn them and measure them.
Founders usually have an urge to create, solve problems, do something amazing. But if all those intentions are not based on data, research, and thinking – it turns into a guessing game. And besides data, you need to believe in what you do. If you do not believe in your dream- no one else will believe. And you need people to believe because usually, it takes time to turn your plans into reality.
I found and read a beautiful poem written by Charles Bukowski, which I recommend you to read as it completely applies to start-ups as well: So you want to be a writer? And speaking about reading – always learn from others. Find the concept that resonates with you and try to follow it. It will help immensely along the way, just do not get stuck with it. As you and your project will evolve – you will face different challenges that would often require a different approach.
4. Judy: How would you define the mission and goal of RedTrack? Revenue, Profit?
Vlad Zhovtenko: Our mission is to make the work of digital marketers creative again. Machines are better at computing data, humans are better at investing, designing, and decision making. And our current goal is recurring revenue growth.
Vlad Zhovtenko on Optimization and AI
5. Judy: For affiliates, media buyers, and companies that rely on Google Analytics for their marketing needs, what do you think makes them an attractive target market for a tool that improves decision-making when running ad campaigns?
Vlad Zhovtenko: Successful campaigns are about constant optimization based on results. When marketers talk about campaign management, the only thing they can actually manage is change. And the quality of the decisions they make is based on the quality of data they rely on. Hence so many people have come to RedTrack.io after the IOS 14 change – their current set-up does not provide them with sufficient data.
6. Judy: Artificial Intelligence is the latest craze. How is RedTrack concretely adopting AI to the advantage of digital marketers?
Vlad Zhovtenko: Currently, we do not. When it comes to implementing AI for digital marketing it needs to solve two cases:
- – Voice recognition: so the users can operate reports using voice
- – Insights discovery: as AI can comb the data faster and better than humans.
Both are on our roadmap.
7. Judy: Google announced in early 2020 that they will stop the use of third-party cookies in Chrome before 2022. What type of impact do you think this will have on digital marketing, tracking, and remarketing?
Vlad Zhovtenko: 2021 is the year of changing the floorplates in digital marketing. A lot of things will change. IAB Europe made a great document summarizing all the different changes. But in essence for tracking and remarketing there will be one primary change: it will shift towards 1st party data. In the case of tracking, it is pretty obvious and straightforward: the pixel will die. Setting up conversions will become a bit more complex. And that’s it, at least on the surface. Behind the scenes, a lot of tools will have to do a lot of homework to switch from 3rd party data to 1st party data.
For remarketing, it will not be that easy, as switching to first-party data will require rethinking the whole approach to collecting and sharing data. But if cookie matching tables exist, marketers will find a way to create matching tables for other types of data. Marketers will adapt, evolve and prevail 🙂
Vlad on Organic Traffic Tracking
8. Judy: You have recently launched a new way to track organic traffic and ad campaigns on Google, Facebook, and other traffic sources without the need for redirects and third-party cookies, could you tell us a bit more about how it is done and what are the benefits for affiliates and media buyers with this type of tracking capabilities?
Vlad Zhovtenko: To further my previous answer, we utilize a universal tracking script and 1st party data (cookies, CRMs, e-com solutions, etc).
The reason we call the script universal is that it works for all your paid, affiliate, referral campaigns, and organic traffic too. It also allows you to switch between 1st click and last-click attribution and define the attribution window.
The key benefits are:
- – Compliance and readiness for policy and technology requirements
- – Ability to consolidate all campaigns across all channels to unified and standardized measurement to plan, buy, analyze and attribute advertising
Of course, there are additional benefits, but having access to real-time, reliable data to make optimization decisions is the key one
9. Judy: You don’t go from 10 to 20 or even 100 employees in under a year without some pretty aggressive recruiting strategies. What is your approach when it comes to scaling RedTrack?
Vlad Zhovtenko: We only recently crossed the 20 people mark and have yet to learn how aggressive we need to be in hiring. Before the first wave of the pandemic, we worked from three different countries, and right now, our team already works from eight different countries across the globe. We started to care less for the exact location, and that opened a lot of opportunities for us and our team.
10. Judy: Could you tell us a bit more about why you have decided to integrate FraudScore with RedTrack, is this solution based on IP blocking or is it also looking at other attributes such as the behavior of the user, anomalies, etc?
Vlad Zhovtenko: Mainly because of two simple things:
- Following user requests: our customers asked us for a fraud-detection solution and we had to listen and answer their call.
- Understanding our competencies: we are creating an ad tracking and conversion attribution platform. We lack the skills, expertise, and focus to create and maintain an anti-fraud solution, so we decided against any in-house development.
So it was a question of finding and integrating with the right partner and we went with Fraudscore.ai
Vlad Zhovtenko on Ad Fraud & Solutions
11. Judy: One of the biggest issues in the AdTech industry is ad fraud. What is your opinion on how we all should approach and solve it and what type of corporations are needed?
Vlad Zhovtenko: I regret to say but it is not just about Ad Tech. Different people have different values and there is a subset of the population who has less or no constraints in pursuit of their goals. So it is a big issue overall. However, in Ad Tech (and in a lot of other digital operations) fraud is easier to accomplish and on top of that, it is easier to hide from the consequences, as a lot of interactions are remote and can be anonymized. So if you want to change it – you really need to start to change the culture across the entire globe. But let’s say that’s a fairly noble goal, so my take is that we need to face the brutal facts that fraud will exist, and if there is a possibility it can impact your business – implement processes and tools that would minimize the opportunities to be impacted by fraud and potential damage that can be caused by it.
12. Judy: Can you tell us a bit more about how your customers actually monitor click quality inside of their accounts and do this service cost?
Vlad Zhovtenko: There are multiple ways customers evaluate click quality, so I would focus on the built-in fraud detection powered by FraudScore. We have built a quite deep integration and FraudScore machine learning / AI operates as part of RedTrack.io, being constantly updated by their team remotely. It analyses the data and provides an instant evaluation of click quality according to FraudScore metrics. We then provide this data as part of the reporting or use it to create automated rules – like sending an e-mail or webhook alert if traffic quality drops. The fraud detection solution is available either on a metered model or all-inclusive mode. For metered mode, users can switch it on or off at the campaign level and will pay for each 1,000 checked.
For the all-inclusive mode, the user can monitor all traffic across all their campaigns at a fixed monthly cost.
13. Judy: Any final words that you would like to give to our readers?
Vlad Zhovtenko: “Final words” assume some great takeaway or moral of the story. I respect your audience and do not want to impose any views. I hope they will find a bit of useful information or insights in this interview. Thank you so much for this opportunity, Judy it was a pleasure speaking with you.
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