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MarTech Series Interview with Bryan Walkey, CEO of GainShare

Bryan Walkey, CEO of GainShare shares his thoughts on the growing importance of first-party data in marketing while telling us about GainShare’s marketing experience in today’s ‘’new normal’’ in this quick chat:


Tell us a little about yourself Bryan…we’d love to hear about GainShare? We’d also love to dive into your role as CEO and how a typical day at work is?

I have over 35 years of experience leading senior business development as well as marketing and technology teams. I’ve worked in an advisory capacity to GainShare for over 30 years, and in 2016, I led a management buyout of the firm with five senior employees with a focus on growing the client base and transforming GainShare. As CEO, I’ve continued to direct my efforts toward growing GainShare as a progressive performance marketing agency. So, it’s safe to say my day-to-day consists of plenty of meetings – with both internal and external partners – and strategy brainstorming sessions. But I wouldn’t change it at all. 

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In today’s ‘’new normal’’ (since 2020!) what have been some of the core processes and marketing technologies that have helped you drive better business and marketing outcomes that you’d like to highlight today?

In terms of core processes, ensuring that everyone is still able to collaborate on the same level or as close to the same level as before we worked remotely was imperative. Teamwork is just as important to our culture as it is to our success as a business, therefore we ensured we had the tools that would allow us to do that, even from home. As for the business, we had used Microsoft Teams a bit in the past but I can say without question, it is the center of all company and most client communications. The whole suite has been critical to keeping our offices in two countries seamlessly connected and sharing. Regarding our proprietary products, our Gainshare Performance Cloud has continued to grow and deliver client and team insights. 2020 saw new data integrations from platforms, publishers and clients. Specifically, our Datorama partnership, new integration with The Trade Desk and a number of client CRMs have scaled our client launches and performance. We have also invested in more advanced machine learning and AI modelling to automate across channels. Lastly, we have increased our investment in security. Cyber risk has only increased with everyone working from home so it pays to invest there as well.

Diving deeper, what according to you should today’s performance marketers be focusing more on (marketing technologies and marketing processes) to drive better outcomes, given the way of business as we see it during this pandemic?

I think marketers should be focusing on first-party data and the best avenues to grow ROI. All marketers aim to optimize their campaigns and not only show, but increase, ROI. However, this already difficult task is further complicated by the ever-evolving privacy and data changes happening within the industry. We are working with all our clients to focus not only on direct ROI in sales but long term ROI in building direct relations and first-party data sets. More than ever, brands need to have a very real performance model and budget on the value of direct prospect relationship. Having the ability to direct your marketing to those you know is and will be critical.

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How do you feel marketing teams can scale their go to market processes and strategies more effectively (faster) and reduce the typical go to market journey that most teams/leaders are known to follow?

Marketers need to ensure that all their teams, both internal and external, are on the same page and cut out the turf wars as soon as they crop up. They need to make sure everyone is working toward a common goal and understands what success means and what business outcomes are most important. It is not unusual for a company to have an internal team supplemented by two or three agencies. If they don’t know what one another is doing, you will end up with a fragmented approach to the market. 

What according to you are some of the most crucial elements performance based marketers should follow to measure engagement strategically?

Think of the entire customer journey and always tie performance to a business outcome. The most important business outcome is revenue. That sounds like basic common sense but you would be surprised how many campaigns and channels are not managed in this way. Measure at every stage of the customer journey and do your best to tie that measurement back to outcomes. Lastly, success in performance marketing is tied to having a test-and-learn culture. Proving something does not work is as important as proving it does work and because it worked before doesn’t mean it will work in the future. 

Take us through some of your biggest marketing learnings/lessons through the years and the marketing technologies that you will always swear by!

My four lessons: 

  • The purpose of advertising is to generate revenue.
  • The purpose of performance marketing is to generate revenue at scale, at a cost that is efficient.
  • The four P’s are still as relevant today as they were in the 1950’s.
  • Performance marketing is a constant test-and-learn process. 

I don’t swear by any marketing technology because it will change within two years or sooner. We need data platform(s), delivery platform(s) and optimization platforms(s). Today, we don’t build technology – we assemble technology. If you try to build, it will be obsolete before you finish. Cass Baker, our EVP of Strategy and Digital, points out when he started at the digital agency Leapfrog Online, there was no Google and no Facebook.

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