“Once you have the data it’s like flicking on the lights.” Tomer Garzberg, CEO of GRONADE is forging the future with data attribution. It’s a corner of niche marketing he’s carved out using a deep forensic analysis of data.
What if you could accurately predict what an audience wanted, and craft their perfect story?
According to Tomer Garzberg, founder and CEO of GRONADE, an enterprise optimisation and blockchain growth-hacking company, you can do exactly this.
“We do really, really obscure things,” Tomer says. “We predict film audiences for films that haven’t been made yet. We experiment with how to attract specific kind of individuals through psychometric analysis and apply that to mediums like Facebook, very much like the Trump campaign.”
“We’re not behind that but we’ve been doing things like that.”
But how do you predict audiences for films that haven’t been made yet? It all starts with data.
“We were able to take an historical ‘dead’ database of individuals who had been a fan of a TV show, and try to understand what those individuals look like today. What are their behaviours? What they like to do? What films they like to watch?”
“We were able to take that information, lay that back on top of Facebook, identify everyone in Australia that had the propensity to be like those people, and then run experiments on them and validate that in fact they were,” he says.
Tomer describes it as ‘forensic marketing’.
“It’s almost like going very deep, finding data that you don’t have, acquiring it in particular ways and leveraging it,” he says. It has also been labeled ‘growth hacking’.
“It’s about taking a scientific lens and an approach to being completely driven by the data and being completely guided by the data, and by scientific methods, which is test and learn to achieve an outcome,” Tomer says.
“You can turn anything into data, but most times data science and analytics simply refers to outputting a report. You can’t make money on the back of a report. You need to execute.”
“Execution is where you make money.”
Strap into this episode of The CMO Show as Nicole and Mark explore the fourth industrial revolution, Israeli startups, and some explosive puns with Tomer Garzberg from GRONADE.
The CMO Show production team
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Hosts: Mark Jones (MJ) and Nicole Manktelow (NM)
Guest: Tomer Garzberg (TG)
MJ: Welcome back to the CMO Show. My name is Mark Jones.
NM: I’m Nicole Manktelow. We’re happy you’re here today.
MJ: We are. How are you Nicole?
NM: I’ve had one of those days where you just couldn’t get where you wanted to go fast enough.
MJ: Is that right? This is like a traffic analogy, right?
NM: And a parking one, but don’t get me started.
MJ: Yeah. I’ve downloaded this app, and it takes you to all the back streets if there’s a road blockage.
MJ: It is. It’s the goal. It’s just the best, right?
NM: You can see all the people in the cars in front of you, all peeling off down the same side street you’re about to go, you know who’s using the app.
MJ: Yep, that’s exactly it.
NM: It did save me.
MJ: That happened to me this morning.
NM: It saved me twice, but I still got stuck in a parking situation.
MJ: Yeah, well, it happens, but I think it’s a great analogy for our conversation today because we’re talking about, what’s the fastest way to get to a solution? If you’re in the enterprise, if you’re a large organisation, there are plenty of people around who are consultants and so on, and there’s lots of different ways to get to a solution. The question is, what’s the fastest way?
NM: Well, consultants don’t sound fast to me. I always imagine someone coming in, maybe an entourage of them, coming and giving you a briefing and a little bit of a pitch, and then going off and doing some interviews, and then coming back and telling you what they’re about to do. I don’t know when the work actually starts.
MJ: Yeah. There’s that old kind of image of in the 90s, the IT consultants. They’d send them by the busload to your office and fill up your offices and never leave, charge you by the hour. That’s not fast.
MJ: Our guest today is Tomer Garzberg, and he’s the CEO and Founder at Gronade.
NM: What a great name, Gronade. He’s actually got a picture of a grenade on his t-shirt.
NM: He’s not very corporate, let me just say, just not corporate.
MJ: He’s not corporate, no. I think that’s the thing. He uses this phrase, growth hacking the enterprise, which I quite like, but again, it’s shortcut for …
NM: Give me a solution.
MJ: … a shortcut.
NM: Yeah. He doesn’t even market. They get word of mouth and then they go in and they try and find an answer for you. Sounds interesting.
MJ: Yeah, which is often the case in early states of business, but …
MJ: Very unconventional, so let’s hear what he’s got to say about doing things differently.
Mark Jones: If you’ve got a question you’d like us to answer on the show, just tweet us @CMOShow or use the hashtag #TheCMOShow. We’d love to hear from you.
NM: Today we have Tomer Garzberg, from an amazing named company, Gronade. Go on. Tell us how you came up with that name.
TG: I’ve been a domain squatter for about 15 years so it was one of my domains.
MJ: It sounds violent.
TG: We get sent in when you need to fix things.
TG: When you throw a grenade nothing is ever the same again, so we’re there to grow things.
MJ: Very true, and given the podcast is not exactly a visual medium. I’m looking at your t-shirt, which of course has a round grenade on it. Is this an Israeli connection too here? Just to dive straight into things.
TG: Israel has a very strong connection to the tech industry and innovation. The way that Israel is doing innovation is out of survivalist, I call it survivalist creativity. There’s a need to survive and that’s why the best innovation comes from hunger, from being hungry in order to solve a problem. Yeah, there is a connection there. I spent a good decade of my early life working with Israeli tech startups and tech companies, lots of quantitatively-minded engineers and mathematicians, and applying really anarcho-capitalist approaches to growing companies without money.
MJ: That sounds pretty full on. One of the reasons we’re talking to you is that you spoke recently at the MSIX Conference run by Mumbrella.
MJ: Clearly you’ve got a passion for data, well, you’re in fine company in that regard because …
NM: We’re a bit obsessed.
MJ: … data-driven storytelling is our thing, right?
TG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
MJ: What’s your angle?
TG: Why data? Because you can’t hide. When we walk into an organisation which has inefficiencies, primarily what we’ve seen is that it’s KPIs that keep people clouded and disincentivised from making a real difference. Once you have the data it’s like flicking on the lights. Some people don’t like what they see, but that’s how you get results.
NM: How does that work in a marketing context? What work have you done strictly with marketing problems?
TG: A lot of the problems we do solve is marketing. Not everything we do is marketing, but we do solve marketing problems. We do really, really obscure things. We predict film audiences for films that haven’t been made yet. We experiment with how to attract specific kind of individuals through psychometric analysis and applying that to say mediums like Facebook, very much like the Trump campaign. We’re not behind that but we’ve been doing things like that.
TG: It’s about taking a scientific lens and an approach to being completely driven by the data and being completely guided by the data, and by scientific methods, which is test and learn to achieve an outcome.
NM: Your clients obviously are sitting on data otherwise you wouldn’t have anything to work with. Tell us about this film project and where you got the data for that.
TG: We’ve approached film in a number of different ways, and we primarily work with Australian film only because we don’t get Hollywood film budgets here. The idea is that you could have a dedicated budget to target a particular audience that might watch your film. Sometimes we’ve worked with films that have had historical audiences from maybe a TV show that would turn into a film. Other times we don’t have anything to work with, other times we have a script. There are a number of different things that you can do when you’re given those types of mediums.
TG: You can turn anything into data. A lot of what we do is for example what we were able to do is take a historical dead database of individuals who had been a fan of a TV show once in a while. Take those individuals, take the data of the emails, wash it with a third-party dataset and try to understand what those individuals look like today. What are their behaviours and what they like to do, and primarily what films they like to watch. We could then take that information and start to build an idea of thematics in terms of what’s important to those individuals, and what type of films they watch, maybe it’s horror or comedy and whatever.
TG: We have those things. We can actually then request behind the scenes footage that taps into all of those things that are important to those individuals that are in that database. We then went out and had them go to a landing page, which had that medium but we actually blocked it with a request for data, an explicit request for data about those individuals. Only those with the strongest intent gave us their data. We were able to take that information, lay that back on top of Facebook, identify everyone in Australia that had the propensity to be like those people, and then run experiments on them and validate that in fact they were.
NM: What was the outcome for the film?
TG: The result worked really well. Now, the thing about the film industry it’s actually very hard to measure results, because every single step in the process is fragmented. What we did know is that they were able to spend their budget in a really, really, targeted way on the people who had the highest propensity to watch that film.
MJ: From a marketing strategy or tactics perspective, I was thinking headlines, but what do you call that? That was a really fascinating description of what you did. What do you call it?
MJ: The journalist in me needs a headline.
TG: It’s almost like forensic marketing, right? It’s almost like going very deep, finding data that you don’t have, acquiring it in particular ways and leveraging it. I don’t know if there is a term for it. The industry has a term called growth hacking.
TG: Growth hacking is a means to an end in terms of optimising how traffic comes in and basically goes through your funnel and then ends up paying for your product, and you’re trying to improve conversions and increase retention. That sort of thing but there’s another layer once you have data science that’s involved.
TG: There’s another layer of possibility and another layer of creativity that can be applied. If you can take yourself out of that box, I don’t know what that thing is called. That’s what we do.
MJ: What about another way into it. What do clients come to you and ask? What’s their question?
TG: We’re generally asking the questions.
TG: We’re asking what the problem is, right? That’s what we’re trying to solve. We’re trying to solve the problem.
MJ: What would they say? They might say, “I want to sell more movies.” Right? But …
TG: Yeah. I want to get bums on seats. I want to solve revenue leakage. I want to identify who to invite to an event. I want to understand how do I attract people that are psychometrically similar to my current members. That’s the things that we’re really good at.
MJ: Yeah. Marketing analytics? Or is that too simple?
TG: Marketing analytics is the first part of the process.
TG: Most times data science and analytics simply refers to outputting a report. You can’t make money on the back of a report. You need to execute. Execution is where you make money, and that’s the space we play in.
NM: I have to ask you a question here because I feel like mostly when you’re doing this technique, most marketing to people they already have. They’ve already got people coming to their site and they’re offering them a report, and they’re asking for a bit more detail. You’re mining the same audience. You’ve touched on something where you’ve obtained a database from somewhere else to use on a product that hasn’t yet been made, the film that hasn’t actually been created. Tell me, how do you do this? How do you just go and obtain data for something that hasn’t happened yet?
TG: Every project is different. We operate with an ethical framework so we’ll never steal the data.
NM: That’s good to know.
TG: Some organisations would. .
MJ: I was just about to ask you that so I’m glad you’ve …
TG: We can procure it. We can negotiate for it. We can identify opportunities where there is joint benefit to organisations washing data. We can incentivise the attraction of it through the population as well. It’ll come back down to marketing.
NM: Actually step one is going and finding the data first.
TG: Nothing without the data.
NM: It’s blowing my mind because I think most companies are sitting on piles of data they don’t know how to use,
TG: No one knows how to use it.
NM: That would be a problem for you to solve usually too, right?
TG: Yeah. Something that we’ve seen is that a lot of organisations that have lots of data are stuck doing the day to day. They’re reporting, how we’re tracking, how the P&L is looking. The problem with that is that innovation doesn’t get born of doing the same thing. You need to come in and literally think in a very abstract way about what you’ve got in front of you. That’s how you get results.
MJ: Data integration is also one of my favourite topics, and in the marketing and adtech/martech space rather, there’s all these bespoke companies that ostensibly are smart API tools.
MJ: Zapier is one that comes to mind. At one level people have tried to solve this problem from an automated perspective.
MJ: Because the first level is if the tools don’t plug in together they’re not going to pay you over and above to manually connect stuff necessarily to waste the money. this is a big existential crisis in marketing meets technology. How do you know that you’re actually doing the right job or solving the right problem?
TG: Because we only track one KPI, did we make money?
TG: Right? There’s no Facebook likes, no traffic, all that stuff is complete bullshit to us. We just want to know, are we moving the needle on revenue? Other projects, can we move the needle on operations?
TG: Can we save money or can we make money? That really should be the focus of marketing, right? That’s what marketing is hired to do.
MJ: Well, this is the marketing meets sales conversation, right?
TG: Budgets just aren’t born out of nowhere. Again, I always look at it this way, there’s a reason why CFOs love cutting marketing budgets, because they can’t attribute it to profit. No one can, but there are ways. You have to try harder. That’s the space we play in. Can you attribute money in the bank to behaviour out here?
TG: Traffic and sources and the things you’re attracting into the product. Can we track behaviours? Can we attribute things and behaviour and flows and the way in which customers interact with the business to money in the back? Then, can we start isolating people who actually make us money and attract more of those people?
MJ: This is good because as the conversation is going on we’re drilling further and further down into the thing, because I’m always like, “What’s the thing?” Right? Somebody asked me and I speak to this occasionally, is that what’s the biggest change that’s happened in your industry in the last decade? I would say that in marketing this is what we’re getting to which is the attribution story. Can you show me the connection between problem, marketing activity, dollars in the bank, that attribution line?
MJ: That’s the single biggest change, because we used to go from which 50% of my marketing works? I don’t know.
MJ: To now to what I call both 50. Both 50% of my marketing has to work.
TG: It’s also the beginning of the end for marketing. It’s once you’ve worked out the direct line of sight between attraction and profit, then comes machination, right? You can start to automate things and start to remove. Again, a lot of what we do is look at the most inefficient part of businesses – primarily it’s humans. How do we remove humans from the equation of growing profit? That’s where we’re heading.
NM: A lot of vendors are talking about creating tools that use AI, how to whatever degree that is, that that is an enabler so that you don’t have to do the grunt work anymore. These tools allow you to be a little bit more creative.
TG: You can’t just turn a job but you can deconstruct the job into task. Tasks can be analysed for structure and variance. Once you’ve analysed a task for structure and variance and you have enough data, you can automate that task. Automate enough tasks, right? That’s basically the space we play in. How do you do get from one point to the other in the most efficient way possible? By removing inefficiency.
MJ: One of the challenges you’ve got to overcome here is the veritable sea of startups out there. In the martech industry alone there’s five and a half thousand companies playing in this space, and is only getting bigger. but the complexity seems to grow. How do you fight that complexity?
TG: Absolutely. You’ve got to stay malleable, right? You can build a product that does a specific function and every business has a different problem. You can essentially fuzzy your way in with an off the shelf product and get to where you want to be, but again at the end of the day it comes down to executing on the back of the real problem you have. If you can’t isolate that problem then you need to do some manual labour. One you’ve isolated that problem you can build custom solutions for that.
TG: I still think it’s hard to off the shelf problems with off the shelf tools. That is the space we play in. Again, we don’t necessarily see off the shelf products or even other enterprises that might do data science and that sort of thing as competitors, we partner with them all. We don’t really care. For us it’s about augmentation not competition.
NM: How do you find your customers? It doesn’t strike me that you do a lot of marketing yourself, do you?
TG: We do no marketing. We have no marketing budgets, we don’t plan to. A lot of the way that we sell is still very face to face. We deal with basically executives in enterprise space. There is a very, very warm referral network through that. That’s not a monetised referral network. That is literally just, “You’ve got to speak to these guys because they do x.” That’s worked extraordinarily well for us. That’s how we picked up a lot of our business and where again we plan to stay underground for as long as possible.
TG: Most times we’re coming in because you really need to start doing it rather than talking about it for the media, right? Again, a lot of the innovation has just been done for PR purposes without actually moving the needle. Our primary focus is execution. We look at lightweight execution of things we identify in the data that will design in profitability or design in operational savings. Again, we’re not end to end. We literally come in, we’ll prove it. We’ll validate it and then that thing can be scaled or whatever it is. We’re there to solve that problem.
MJ: Let’s switch back to another tac that we did touch on just a moment ago. I’m going to say these words. The fourth industrial revolution.
MJ: What comes to mind when I say that?
TG: This is going to be one of the largest challenges that we as humans face. There is a real shift happening with people and jobs. We’re so intrinsically tied to the things that we do every day. The spreadsheets, the reporting, the meetings, all of that. It doesn’t achieve anything, right? We can free ourselves up to really start moving the needle and that’s why automation is coming for everything. As long as there’s a will and a budget, once you build artificial intelligence it’s practically free to run. It’ll run 24 hours a day, it won’t take lunch breaks, it won’t leave you, right?
TG: There is literally no attrition with AI. The fourth industrial revolution is coming because it’s dirt cheap to build AI, and again, it’s more reliable than humans. That’s just the reality of it. We’re just not efficient beings. That’s something that we’re going to have to deal with. I don’t have the answers for that but it’s happening.
TG: We’ve researched 11,000 of the world’s most susceptible jobs, most populated jobs and braided them based on their susceptibility to become automated. There is a very interesting attraction piece primarily based around that research that we’re going to leverage.
NM: When you say there’s an interesting attraction piece, explain that.
TG: The idea of washing data that had never existed before with real-life data from other organisations becomes a very real piece. What we’re doing is we’re trying to identify and quantify the value of inefficiencies within enterprise primarily based on our research. We’re using that almost as a lead magnet.
MJ: Yeah. That’s very clever. That’s a different take on inbound marketing, which is great, right?
MJ: This too shall be automated, right?
TG: That literally is.
TG: Literally built it to output in 20 seconds. It’s literally based around some very smart logic in the backend that identifies who it’s talking to and goes, pop, here’s your answers.
MJ: Again, with the automation piece and where you see all of this heading, nobody literally wants to hang on to their spreadsheets. Nobody says, “Gee, we should have spent more time on the spreadsheet.” That just doesn’t happen. Most people just want to get something done, they don’t actually care how it gets done. We’re still at this high level but how will things get done?
TG: Just more efficiently, right? You’ve got when the steam engine was created people that rode their horses for distances to deliver things they felt a bit threatened too. The idea is that we’re going to need less people to achieve the same output. There are still going to be jobs, the jobs will be different, but achieving the objective will become more efficient.
TG: That’s the name of the game.
MJ: Yeah. Actually I agree with that narrative, right? It’s not the end of all marketing jobs.
MJ: It’s the beginning of new ones, right?
TG: We don’t know what’s around the corner.
TG: You solve what we currently associate with marketing. If we can solve that, what’s next? Right? This is the thing. We’ve just got to get smarter. We’ve just got to keep getting smarter.
MJ: I’d like to think we’d spend more time on strategy, research and planning and creativity, and less on tactical filling stuff in boxes, right? That’s my simplistic view of it.
TG: Doing things machines can’t do, right? That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.
NM: Can a machine do a meeting for me?
MJ: That’s called a robot.
NM: I don’t need one of those just yet.
MJ: What’s next for you then?
TG: We’re in the process of growth. We’re looking at a number of different initiatives, partnering with some really, really major organisations to start building in the future of work into the workplace. That’s our primary focus. Whatever the inefficiency is in the organisation we try to go at and help to solve that. That is our primary focus now and that’s going to really help us to grow without financing, without selling out, without anything.
MJ: That’s great. Clever way to do it. I can relate to that.
MJ: It’s quite clear to me that this is a big long ride ahead and I can see why you’re excited. All the very best with making that become an amazing thing.
TG: Thank you very much.
MJ: I can see you’re developing lots of friends in lots of different places, and I hope you would include us among that merry band of collaborators.
MJ: Before we let you go, let’s do the rapid fire round. What are you grateful for?
TG: I’m grateful for, I guess, being at a time that accepts this as a realistic logic. The time is right for that.
NM: What’s your greatest career fail?
TG: I’ve had plenty of startup failures prior to Gronade. The thing about startups is that if you’re going to co-found it with somebody, they really need to be invested just as much as you are. Literally quit your job and do this thing, not as a side gig. Gronade is really the first company that I founded just primarily as a sole founder. I’ve seen better success. Again, I’m not saying that partnering with others is the problem, just everyone needs to be committed.
NM: Same amount of skin in the game.
TG: Same amount of skin.
NM: Who’s your hero?
TG: Jack Ma. That guy is an absolute legend.
TG: If you just read the story of his life, dealt with every single layer of adversity he could to get to a point where he’s built just a monolithic beast out of Asia, that’s now spreading its tentacles into the west. That’s serious.
NM: It’d be cool to work with Alibaba, wouldn’t it?
MJ: What was the last conference you went to?
TG: I don’t really go to too many conferences. Probably the one that I spoke at – MSIX. I’m about to go to C2 in Melbourne, which is really cool. It’s that Cirque du Soleil version of conferences.
MJ: Oh yes.
TG: That’s going to be pretty fun.
NM: If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
TG: I don’t know if I would. Look to be fair there’s a really, really interesting thing about having a complicated first name.
MJ: I think you’ve actually got such a cool name. You have the name that people would change their name to. I think you’re already winning in that regard.
MJ: Regardless, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much.
TG: Thanks for having me. I’ve had a really good time.
NM: I enjoyed it.
MJ: All the best with the business.
TG: Thank you so much.
NM: Yeah. Good luck with the Gronade.
NM: I want to know how you get your hands on a database of film fans, and then years later you try and tap into whatever they might still be interested in.
MJ: I always get mentally stuck with the washing a database, because as we know technology doesn’t mix very well.
NM: You’re thinking of your front loader.
MJ: That’s it.
NM: Meanwhile, I’m thinking that this must have been a zombie film or something really particular to get that vibe. Then to go and find that audience and then workout if they’re the right … match the script … It just makes me excited. I feel like maybe I could go off and buy some database on the black market and write my own film.
MJ: Well, this has been a big part of the marketing journey, is combining data, and then really interesting data in this case, with creativity. How can we create something that hasn’t been done before but we know will meet a target audience?
NM: How is this not creepy in some ways?
MJ: Oh there’s always an element of creepy, isn’t it?
NM: Yeah, I suppose so.
MJ: This is a fine line too.
MJ: What can you get away with and can’t you? That was a really fantastic conversation.
NM: He’s really out there, isn’t he?
MJ: I think also the challenge to take out of it is, don’t forget that you should continually try to disrupt your own business. People like these will come in and hurl a metaphorical grenade.
NM: Yes. I think that’s what he was going for.
MJ: Right? If they’re not doing it then find someone within your organisation who can do that or your existing partners, because this constant need to change and reinvent and challenge your assumptions I think is the key to growth. That was one of themes that came through.
MJ: Some great lessons in there.
NM: You don’t quite know what you’re going to get.
NM: Hopefully some dollars at the end of it.
MJ: I was going to say there was a box of chocolates reference there, but that’s okay, we’ll let it go.
NM: Thanks Mark.
MJ: It’s been great having you with us on the CMO Show this time. Please tune in next time.
NM: Like us, subscribe, do all of the good things.
MJ: Please do, and until then.