March 22, 2018

CEO Center Stage: Sahil Jain, Co-Founder and CEO of AdStage

What's the inspiration for starting AdStage?

About six and a half years ago, before AdStage, I was the co-founder of another startup handling marketing, sales, and business development. At the time, I was just kicking off our first ad campaign. New ad networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were just sprouting up and we had to worry about more than just Google AdWords. As we began launching our first ad campaign, we ran into a problem. We wanted to know how each channel was performing and see our cross-channel ad data in one place.

Since then, this simple but challenging problem has become more difficult to solve. Marketers now have access to even more data from the full-funnel - which is a blessing and a curse. As a result of this challenge, my co-founder, Jason Wu, and I set out to help digital advertisers understand what’s working and what isn’t.

The market for ad tech has changed significantly over the last five years, how have you evolved your business to meet the needs of today's advertisers?

When we first started AdStage, we wanted to be a one-stop-shop where businesses and agencies could build, launch and manage their campaigns through our platform. What we’ve learned is that the native interfaces (i.e., Google or Facebook) are incentivized to enhance their own native tools - and they will do this at a pace most third-party software companies cannot keep up with. Or, even if they can keep up with the raw development horsepower, they won’t possess the same data showing what campaigns are actually working.

What we realized is that paid marketers have a growing data problem that only a cross-network or cross-channel solution can solve. The marketing organization has gone from a cost center to a revenue center, with the role of paid marketers becoming critical to its success. Paid marketers now have access to full-funnel data well beyond the click or impression. Thus, they are held to an even higher standard of closing the loop and proving why spending a $1 million a month on digital ads makes the most sense.

So, we aligned the company and our products around helping digital marketers prove just that. We laser-focused on closed-loop reporting and automation for paid marketers - a solution that has a holistic and unbiased view across channels and data sources. We found that our solution is a better fit for mid-market businesses and agencies where the need is amplified due to their volume of spend, initiatives, or clients.

Transforming AdStage into a data and analytics company has been critical in our evolution, and while advertising may shape in form and factor, paid marketers will always need a way to measure its success.

How is AdStage connecting marketers with data? How does this impact marketing business objectives?

The data paid marketers need to prove true ROI or return on ad spend typically lives in a variety of silos. Often, marketers either don’t have access to it, or struggle to normalize it and marry back to their advertising data.

With AdStage, paid marketers can organize their digital ad data under one roof. We then allow marketers to bring in “conversion data.” If a company is B2B, their conversions or lead data may live in a CRM. For an eCommerce business, this conversion or transaction data may live in their own database or associated eComm system.

AdStage allows paid marketers to ship in and marry down-funnel conversion metrics to their ad data so they can close the loop and understand true ROI or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). We then offer tools to allow paid marketers to analyze, measure, report, and automate on this ROI dataset.

What's on the horizon for AdStage?

Businesses and agencies continue to adopt technology at a rapid rate to understand the true ROI of their digital advertising efforts. This requires access to data sources not typically owned by the paid marketing, such as customer relation management (CRMs, usually owned by sales), analytics systems (usually owned by a data analytics team), and transaction data for eComm. This year, we plan to offer a variety of methods to bridge the gap between paid ad performance data and conversion data to enable paid marketers to truly close the loop.

Tags: AdStage , CEO Center Stage , Entrepreneur Spotlight , AdTech , portfolio