Localogy Interview - Evocalize CEO: Facebook Outage Was a ‘Wake Up Call’ for SMBs to Diversify

Originally published on Localogy, by Charles Laughlin on November 4th 2021

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We recently caught up with Evocalize CEO Matthew Marx for a wide-ranging chat about the state of local martech. Evocalize is a collaborative marketing platform, a unique approach to digital marketing that we described in a post back in May.

The CMP is premised on the insight that most organizations lack access to the full toolset that would allow them to achieve optimal results with digital marketing campaigns. And these days this means campaigns on Facebook and Google. They can create more effective campaigns if they join forces with partners via the CMP. Evocalize argues that organizations can have more marketing success through sharing data, best practices, content, messaging, and more.

Marx took over as Evocalize’s CEO in 2016 after spending two years as the company’s chief product officer. Before Evocalize, Marx was director of media products at Bazaarvoice.

A Digital Marketing Bull Session

The impetus for this week’s conversation with Marx was Evocalize’s new report, “Facebook Real Estate Advertising Trends: Q3 2021“.  But we wanted to take advantage of the conversation and ask Matthew about some trends and recent news events in the social media and broader digital marketing industry.

Here’s a rundown on what Marx had to say on a range of issues. Responses edited for length and clarity.

Localogy Insider: In October, Facebook had an outage that lasted several hours. What impact did this have on your customers? And what are the longer-term implications of this experience?

It was a pain point. It showed local businesses’ dependence on Facebook for demand generation more than anything. Most of what we heard from our partners was, ‘Hey, guys, you guys got to fix this right away because we’re gonna miss our numbers. This is materially impacting our businesses.’

And so that was the overwhelming sentiment. I think it showed people they need to figure out ways to diversify. Because their demand is coming largely from Facebook. And we’re obviously helping them do that.

But that’s changing. And so I think folks are taking the lesson that they need to diversify. Not necessarily going away from Facebook, but adding Google, if they’re not there already. Adding Tik Tok. And so they’re trying to figure out how to do that without becoming full-time marketing experts.

Note: Localogy recently published a report on the Facebook outage’s impact on small businesses that showed a relatively modest impact on operations. And most SMBs said they plan to increase their spending on Facebook in 2022.

Localogy Insider: So there was no brewing sentiment against Facebook before the outage? Was this really a total wake-up call for small business advertisers?

These folks are running businesses, right. So they don’t spend every day thinking about marketing the way we do. Or in the way that a corporate marketer would. I’m convinced having spoken with thousands of these folks that they don’t think about the world that way.

So they’re trying to drive demand, and they’re all of a sudden they see something doesn’t work, and that creates the epiphany, the ‘Oh, sh*t’ moment. It takes a shock like that for it to register. I’m sure that Facebook downtime was was really the shock to make a lot of folks look up and say we’ve got to figure this out.

Localogy Insider: Who benefits most from this new imperative to diversify?

It’s no secret Google is a powerhouse. Google’s a powerhouse overall, at the corporate level, Google has more spending flowing through their systems from a digital marketing perspective than Facebook does.

But there are a couple of players that are emerging pretty fast. Amazon, of course. Amazon had a miss. They had a little bit of a pullback in their advertising spend. But Amazon is emerging. For us, TikTok is a very quickly emerging and growing platform. It is among the fastest-growing segments of users. and the time spent in Tik Tok comes from those of kind of first, second and third homebuying age from, you know, 30 to 45 years old. And so, and it’s a highly affluent audience.

And so, TikTok has a different format with short videos. I think among demographics with gray beards like me we can turn a squinty eye to it a little bit. But it can work really well not only for upper-funnel branding but also for low funnel conversion. They’ve emulated a lot of Facebook’s techniques. I think they’ve hired a lot of Facebook people.

And they now support things like lead formats in channels that have been so popular and successful and performed with Facebook. TikTok is doing it right. So TikTok is a channel that we’re doing lots of experimentation with right now. And it’s performing extremely well in our testing.

Localogy Insider: I think of TikTok more like a short-form version of YouTube than a social media platform. How do you see it?

So I don’t even know I don’t use the terms social or social network much anymore. I think of them all as places where people spend time online.

Localogy Insider: You mentioned Amazon a moment ago. What role does it play in the advertising ecosystem you deal with?

We’re just starting to experiment with Amazon. Amazon has been the fastest-growing ad platform in North America for quite some time. And they are third now in size and scale, after Google and Facebook. So there’s some real meat there. I would say it’s been largely concentrated on commerce, as you would expect. And then they do the on-site search type of advertising.

They’ve done a lot of work using their data to extend that reach off of the core Amazon property. And to break out from search, specifically upper funnel a little bit and look at more display type products in the combination of Amazon’s data and intent data. And the ability to reach their customers on-site and off is a pretty powerful thing if you think about it. So we’re just dipping our toe in right now.

Localogy Insider: In the space that you’re operating in, what M&A predictions would you make for say the next six months to a year?

Consolidation. I think that in marketing technology, specifically in our area, there are too many players. And it’s confusing the market.

And so that’s core to our strategy. and why we chose the path of our platform. Our tools can stand alone. But they can also integrate into other people’s tools. So because then you don’t as a user have to log in to a bunch of different tools and a bunch of different places. It simplifies the market. And that’s what consolidation and M&A will do, too. I think our approach is one approach. M&A is another approach.

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