Feel The Ad Love! Podcast: What you don’t know about Digital Media, T2O The Digital Media Agency, does.

From Avatars to Chatbots, the current trends in digital media are what T2O does best.  Meet Alex Ramirez, CEO of T2O and hear an engaging conversation about all things digital, including their advanced TV rationale. T2O has a global focus on data-driven marketing.  You’ll enjoy the conversation and you might even learn a few things.

Advertising has moved well beyond the traditional channels.  Question is, how smart is the agency handling your business?  T2O takes marketing to the next level and they do it on a global scale.  Their mantra is called POET: paid, owned, earned and technology, which translates into a team of professionals that understand the “new” way  to move the needle.  Alex Ramirez, the CEO of T2O brings the power of a global company to Houston with Omni Channel Marketing expertise.  They call their marketing funnel, Bowtie Marketing.  Even if you don’t wear one, you need to know how it works.  Find out what’s new by listening now.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION:

Bruce Abbott:
Hey, this is Bruce Abbott.

Ray Schilens:
And I’m Ray Schilens.

Bruce Abbott:
And welcome to Feel The Ad Love! Yes, a podcast produced by Radio Lounge, featuring the inside scoop on advertising and marketing, and we’ve got guest interviews with some of the brightest minds in advertising. Now, each episode, we explore current trends and cool stuff and advertising and marketing, and the latest news and events in our ad community.

Ray Schilens:
I have questions, and I bet a lot of folks in the industry have questions as well-

Bruce Abbott:
I have all kinds of questions.

Ray Schilens:
Do you? We’ll hopefully, we’ll get some answers today as well. I mean, for instance, data-driven marketing, the ability to adapt. What is paid, owned and earned technology? Those are the things that go well beyond the day-to-day stuff. What if I want buy some radio commercials? I’m going to buy some TV, maybe some cable. That’d be a real good thing.

Ray Schilens:
You know what folks? Maybe you know this already, maybe you don’t, but advertising and marketing has moved so far beyond. It’s probably, for a lot of folks, over the horizon for an understanding.

Bruce Abbott:
I do like that accent that you did for those. That was pretty cool. I will say. Boston radio, we’re going to buy some television. We can get you a radio spot. How would Tuesday or Thursday work best for you?

Ray Schilens:
I’m going to get you two for one here.

Bruce Abbott:
Two for one!

Ray Schilens:
Anytime. When we talked today with our guest, Alex Ramirez, CEO of T2O Media USA; man, this guy is talking over the horizon. It’s not bleeding edge, but it’s cutting edge, and it’s understandable and it makes sense, especially for what folks want to have happen today with their marketing and advertising. This is a great guy to get to know.

Bruce Abbott:
So, Alex. An agency from Spain ends up in Texas. How did that happen?

Ray Schilens:
Why? Why?

Bruce Abbott:
How do you go from Spain to Texas?

Alex Ramirez:
Yeah. A lot of people ask that question-

Ray Schilens:
SouthWest. No.

Alex Ramirez:
To us. We had been thinking about coming to the US for a while, and we actually came across the opportunity because one of our clients was working with a local agency. They just weren’t getting it. Not just because they didn’t perform as they were expecting, but because they had a lot of problems in regards to the time lag that there is between Europe and the US. Language-wise way of doing things, a way of even talking about marketing, which is different. Out of that, we tell them, “Let us handle your US and Canada accounts,” and they said, “Okay, but I want you to be there,” right? And say, “Okay, done deal, we’re here.” That was basically what made us take the leap in coming to the US, and then when we were scouting out, “Okay, so where do we land?”

Alex Ramirez:
Everyone was thinking about Miami, New York or California, going to LA or maybe San Francisco, but eventually we thought about Texas because it’s one of the best places to be nowadays in the US. It’s one of the states that grows more. Houston, very multicultural. We have a two hour flight from Mexico City where we have an office with 60 people, for the past nine years. It just made sense for us, and we saw an opportunity as well because it’s an an port of entry for companies from Latin-America and as a test for Europe as well because it’s a big state to test. It just made sense. That’s why we wanted to do it.

Alex Ramirez:
We’re trying to help companies from Europe, from Latin-America to come in, actually do it right, help them grow and so that they understand that coming into the US is not about just landing and getting rich. It’s about doing things in a different way because it is a different 50 countries country. That’s basically it. You have to understand how things are done, otherwise it’s just going to be a very burning and consuming thing for companies to even do it, and that’s why.

Bruce Abbott:
You were talking a little bit off-mic earlier about your roots being data-driven marketing, not necessarily the whole creative and content, but your big thing; you’re really … You’re not an advertising agency that uses data. You’re really a data agency that uses advertising. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Alex Ramirez:
Scenes … Since we started back in 2004, the first initial steps that the agency took was starting to work in the PPC area. Everything was very new. Oscar and Tomas were working on that. They went to Google and say, “Hey, we want to be your biggest client in Spain.” Just like that. Google was starting to actually … Even being in Spain, they didn’t have offices at that time and they said, “Well, who are you guys?” And they said, “We’re just two guys that know about data. We know PPC is the first thing that started popping up in the DDO side and then we are just looking into being your best client and growing, and it’s going to be all about technology.” That’s how we started. That’s basically how we started. Then out of that, since we have been working for the past 15 years, everything has been revolving around technology, data, audiences, and keeping the pace on how digital marketing has been growing basically.

Ray Schilens:
Did you guys know at that point in time that you were well ahead of the curve as it relates to marketing and advertising? Was that something you thought about or did it just happen?

Alex Ramirez:
I don’t think they actually did … That they were ahead of time, they just see an opportunity and they just went for it, and eventually, it just worked out. I think.

Ray Schilens:
Mm-hmm (affirmative.) Cool.

Bruce Abbott:
As we start talking about this and how you guys use data; As you’re looking at the new model here of of advertising and marketing, and and data is becoming just bigger, bigger, bigger in terms of the importance of that. For maybe smaller ad agencies, I mean, you guys have been … Just to start with just three core employees and then to be able to expand in the way that you have, what can a smaller agency learn from you guys in terms of your strategy, your data? Then I’ve got another question I want to ask you about this bow-tie strategic approach of yours.

Alex Ramirez:
Yeah, well that’s basically … The past two, three years we have been focusing a lot on working on these new bow-tie approach as we speak. It’s basically a funnel process, right? If you go into the left side of that funnel process, which is a bow-tie, you will have the basics, awareness, interest, desire and conversion areas, right? Very common. That’s a very traditional model. Then if you go to the right side, that’s where most media agencies don’t tend to go to, which is the loyalty side, and that’s where you actually talk to your actual customers and get them to continue to purchase products or services that you have, and not over spend more on acquiring new ones, rather than having all that installed base continue to grow basically. That loyalty side, which is upselling, cross-selling, marketing automation, which is a big boom since the past couple of years.

Alex Ramirez:
All of that needs technology, and that’s … If you talk to another agency that it’s trying to go to that place, they will definitely maybe say, “My biggest problem is actually understanding the process, getting the right tools and technology, and getting the right people to be able to pull this off.” That takes time. That takes money. That takes knowledge. So, I don’t think it’s that agencies don’t want to do it, it’s just that it’s not that easy and-

Ray Schilens:
They don’t understand it maybe.

Alex Ramirez:
Sometimes it’s the case, sometimes they do understand it, but they just don’t have either the manpower or enough power on the technology side, or knowledge to actually pull that of.

Ray Schilens:
Can a brand … A brand, basically, any brand use influencer marketing? And why is that important for a brand to do this?

Alex Ramirez:
When you think about brand awareness, basically, you will think more on the traditional side of things offline. You’re gonna go on the radio, you’re going go on the TV, you’re going to be on print, out of home. But when you start thinking about how the new age of people has changed, everything is about connection. It’s about relations, influencer marketing, it’s all about that. So we have social media where we have a lot of people go in on a daily basis, but then we have a lot of people that are actually talking about topics and selling products because they have used them on an influencer marketing base. That’s the way to talk to audiences in another perspective. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do TV, radio, or all this traditional media stuff, but you also need to have people on the other side. That’s where influencer marketing comes in. It’s all about referring, it’s all about listening, about products, brands from other people that have actually used it, basically.

Bruce Abbott:
Where do you see advertising and marketing here in the future? I mean, what do you see as as the next big thing, and maybe not even talking as much about trends as even just … Maybe even philosophies. Where are you seeing this going?

Alex Ramirez:
I think that over the past years when pragmatic buying jumped in, that was a big game changer. That’s when, actually, every type of media started to go more on the mainstream side of things, and you actually are having the brands being able to go into that and buy directly, right? It’s happening. We, media agencies, now see some clients that actually jump in and say, “I want to buy directly my display advertising or do things on my own,” and that is something that we just can’t stop, but what we can actually do is be there so that they continue on, keep the pace and continue to actually grow.

Alex Ramirez:
We did an understanding on how to do so, but that’s a complicated part for companies sometimes, right? If we definitely want to continue to be there, we have to be more and on the consultancy side of things, where we actually help them shape things up, and if a company is undergoing a digital transformation process, we have to be there to be right with them and provide more than they actually can do it themselves. We have to be an extension of their marketing team instead of being just the agency or a vendor, which is a more traditional side of things that that’s what we see. There are a lot of agencies in the US shifting to that, and even big consultancy firms like Accenture have gone into the digital landscape because of that, because they saw an opportunity, right? It’s a balance and that’s where we’re trying to … That’s a big shift nowadays.

Ray Schilens:
Alex Ramirez is CEO of T2O Media USA, and on your website, you talk about the tres amigos of advanced television: Connected, addressable, and programmatic linear. It says it goes far beyond the big networks, even farther than many options we now have available on satellite, on the internet. Is this a big benefit in being able to be to target to an end user? First of all, explain what you mean by tres amigos, connected, addressable and programmatic.

Alex Ramirez:
On the TV side of things, the most traditional way of buying … This is very old-school, but it’s still there. It’s talking to a business rep from the TV station and saying, “Hey, I want to be on TV. What do you have for me? Okay, so how much money do you have? I have x-money,” and then out of that, they will send you, “Okay, this is the inventory you can get,” and then you go live. You build your spot, you come to a rigorous [inaudible 00:12:15] days and then you just put it out there, right?

Bruce Abbott:
Tried and true method there, yeah.

Alex Ramirez:
Exactly. The problem about that is that if I want to segment or target; how do I actually segment my targeting to an actual consumer when there’s four, five, six people looking at the same screen at the same time? How do you actually use a spot that is targeted to each of those personas?

Alex Ramirez:
That’s the tricky part. So when digital TV, connected TV, addressable TV came in, that’s when you actually go into the more targeted perspective, and then you can actually buy inventory in the digital spectrum to an audience and not everyone there, like traditional media. TV definitely works. It still generates a lot of traffic. It just generates a lot of awareness, but if you really want to target, you need to go on the DDO side of things and then use technology for that, and that’s what we’re doing. We also buy offline, but we try to tie everything to a metric on a digital perspective and be able to actually trace how that’s performing for the campaign.

Ray Schilens:
That’s an upside for the client, there’s no doubt about that. Conversations have always been an integral part of selling stuff. So how do chat-bots and dialogue flow start a conversation, and how does that play into the whole marketing thing?

Alex Ramirez:
There’s two main things that you are going to get out of a chat-bot and the one is reduced costs of having someone call you, and … That’s the call center part. It takes a lot of manpower and money for companies to actually be able to address all the questions that a consumer or a client that you already have has or a new prospect has, right? That’s when chat-bots appear and say, “How do we optimize these processes?” That’s why chat-bots tactfully came into play, right? How do we streamline our communications so that we don’t have everyone talking over the phone? Basically. Now, if you are on the media side of things, how can we use chat-bots to sell? Right? We have worked with insurance companies, not here in the US, but in Europe where we have put in place chat-bots where we streamlined the whole process of an insurance policy buying. And that is: asking for an insurance, getting the [inaudible 00:00:14:33], and then even closing the deal directly in the chat-bot. That’s marketing. That’s using technology and marketing all tied together to get business results in a way more efficient way. That’s basically what chat-bot is all about.

Ray Schilens:
As a voice actor, I someday would like to ascend to the level of being a chat-bot, but no, not really. Hey, you’ve linked avatars to successful digital marketing, Alex. How does that fit into a marketing plan?

Alex Ramirez:
It’s very close to what the chat-bot, but basically the avatar, it’s … If you think about one of the most famous ones, you have the Ikea one, right? That avatar, it’s the actually giving that chat-bot a personality and being able to relate to that persona. If you go into traditional media and you go into a celebrity, you get that person to go all the way in your campaign. In this case, you just have a celebrity that is digital and you get a persona out of that. That’s basically the avatar, but it’s just exact same thing about having a chat-bot, but having a personality on top of that.

Ray Schilens:
Wow. This is getting really deep. In a good way, okay? I like this. This is good stuff. Lots of businesses use ad-words to market their products and services, Alex. You have a solution for a low traffic ad word campaign. Tell us more about that.

Alex Ramirez:
When we started working on the PPC side of things, that was the first initial thing that we started doing. As I was telling you at the beginning, there were different types of clients. So the ones that actually had big budgets that can afford to go under what we call the “killer keywords”, which are the big volume keywords. Sometimes, some clients don’t either don’t have the budget or the long tail. It’s way more efficient for them because it’s more targeted than the killer, and being able to get that needs technology. You’re talking about millions of keywords. We have another company that’s a sister company called [inaudible 00:16:28] Media, which they actually build tools for that and they buy millions of keywords a day, and you need technology for that to be able to work. We always use the AdWords platform to buy, or the Bing one. We also use other technologies like Marin Software, we use Kenshoo, we use DoubleClick, which now is called Google Marketing Platform.

Alex Ramirez:
That is how we use technology to actually be able to break down all the campaigns in a way more granular way and with a lot more inventory than the regular 205,000 or a million keywords, but more killer side of things. That’s basically what we do on the PPC side of things, and it’s how we help companies grow. Sometimes it’s about strategy as well. It’s not just the budget, it’s that maybe it’s easier for us to conquer a territory by using a long tail approach more than a head tail approach. So, it’s just a matter of the strategy.

Ray Schilens:
So has digital marketing driven have a faster response rate when you compare it to a traditional marketing? Are things happening faster?

Alex Ramirez:
I mean, digital has always been faster. I mean, things change on a daily basis when you see any kind of tactic that we implement. We implement it today and maybe in two weeks, it’s different already. I mean, that’s where the agencies need to keep up the pace, and that’s where we see that sometimes the client, even though they jump into doing things themselves; keeping the pace, it’s complicated, it takes time, it’s time consuming. It takes money in to actually get to that point. So we, as agencies, need to be helping them keep the pace, continue to grow, understand those changes, and the good thing about agencies is that we are able to access a lot of data from the different vendors where we have better testing, where we have different approaches that, maybe, for an actual client, it’s a little bit more complicated to test.

Ray Schilens:
Using your time machine, looking into the future there at T2O; what’s the next big solution that you have on the horizon for your clients?

Alex Ramirez:
Well, we have … That’s an interesting question. We have been working for the past three years now on an AI solution. We have put in place that for some clients, one big hotel chain has already gone into that with us. We are already in a 89-90% prediction rate. That’s actually getting a new visitor to the website and being able to predict if on the second visit it’s going to actually convert, which is very powerful. So we’re building a solution out of that. I can’t disclose too much of it, but we should have that live in about one year I think, and it’s gonna be a game changer for what we’re doing differently.

Ray Schilens:
From our interview today, you can obviously tell that Alex is a metal head.

Bruce Abbott:
What? No, he’s not.

Ray Schilens:
Yes, he is. What’s your favorite metal band, Alex?

Alex Ramirez:
I have been into Metallica since I was like five years. I was living close to a neighbor that was listening to them almost daily, and so I eventually just became a big Metallica fan and I will continue to do so until the day-

Bruce Abbott:
If you look at Alex, he just doesn’t look like somebody who did.

Ray Schilens:
No, no.

Bruce Abbott:
But you know what? He rocks.

Alex Ramirez:
Thanks for that.

Ray Schilens:
Yeah. Very good. Hey, Alex, you are a fresh face, a fresh idea company. It’s so good to have you here in the Houston market as well, and obviously because this is a podcast, lots of folks around the world are hearing this as well, but I’m glad you’re in Houston. I’m glad you guys are doing what you’re doing. T20media.com. Alex Ramirez, the CEO. Thanks for being here man.

Alex Ramirez:
Thanks for having me in, and it was a pleasure talking to you guys.

Bruce Abbott:
Bruce and Ray saying thank you for listening to Feel The Ad Love!

Ray Schilens:
Be sure and visit our website. It is RadioLoungeUSA.com.

Bruce Abbott:
And you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or via RSS, so you never miss a show.

Ray Schilens:
And while you’re at it, if you found value in the show and you learned something, maybe, we hope you did, and we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes. If you’d simply like to tell a friend about the program and share it on social media, that would be even cooler.

Bruce Abbott:
Very cool. Copyright 2019 Radio Lounge, all rights reserved.

Ray Schilens:
Join us next time for another episode of Feel The Ad Love! We’ll see you soon.