04 Jun, 2018

“The only content that counts is the content that works” Percolate CEO Randy Wootton Discusses the Content Bottleneck in Exclusive Interview


With our Transformational CMO Day New York rapidly approaching, Digital Diary sat down with one of our sponsors, Percolate, to gain a first-hand look into how marketing is continually being affected by content bottlenecking, especially for content marketers who cannot keep up with the demand for content and the ability to deliver on that demand. Percolate discusses how to overcome this pressing issue and gives us a perspective on what they are anticipating this year in the marketing industry.

Thank you to Percolate for sharing your insight with us!

Percolate powers “global marketing visibility, coordination, and governance”. By looking at an enterprise’s needs, how are you able to continually deliver personalized exceptional marketing content and campaigns to leading brands around the world?

Since I joined Percolate I’ve spent A LOT of time meeting with customers and prospects. Each one has shared how they are struggling with creating compelling audience-based experiences and are looking for a way to solve this problem. Many described what Gartner would call a content problem. In fact, Gartner argues that this problem is the biggest challenge marketers will face now in the near term: “By the year 2021, 90% of brands will practice at least one form of marketing personalization, but content, not data, will be the bottleneck and primary cause of failure”. We created an e-book that describes this “content bottleneck” in more detail and a systemic approach to solving it. We have been sharing these ideas with different audiences to see how they would resonate, and the response has been incredibly positive. We are having meaningful conversations about how marketers can overcome the “content bottleneck” at events like MarTech, SiriusDecisions, Gartner Marketing Summit and now at the Transformational CMO Day.

You work with brands such as CISCO, MasterCard, and UPS to name a few. What motivates these well-known brands to trust Percolate with their content marketing process?

If we take as the starting point, that the only content that counts is the content that works, we find that most content marketers suffer the “bottleneck” in one of three forms:

  • Quantity: “We need more content.”

  • Quality: “We need better content.”

  • Coordination: “We need to take better advantage of the content we already have.”

We understand their pain points and have actively built our product to serve them better. One of the things I am most proud of is how we collaborate and co-create with our customers. As they evolve and face new challenges in their categories, we need to help them stay ahead. To give them a platform that is flexible, innovative and reflective of how they work. We just released the next generation of our platform, and I can tell you that most, if not all, of the upgrades we made, was inspired by how our customers work. Having them be a constant source of feedback has been and will continue to be valuable.

As a result of this ongoing dialogue, Percolate is the only system purpose-built to address these problems. We are honored to be recognized as a leader in the CMP category by the top 3 analysts: Gartner, Forrester, and SiriusDecisions.

Digital transformation is currently underway and impacting every industry, especially marketing. With marketing executives and leaders looking to execute their vision of digital transformation this year, what strategies are most successful when it comes to addressing a brand’s unique requirements for transformation?

Change is hard and feels especially exhausting when it’s been happening continuously for the last 18 years as it has in many marketing organizations. But as Andy Grove said, “market share is won and lost at times of Transition” and this is why all of us come to a conference like this.

We are all looking for opportunities to gain share and recognize that it takes to create change in an organization.  So the question, then, is in the macro “how do we deal with this change” and, in the micro, “what do we do about our content bottleneck”?

In my experience, this type of enterprise-wide scale change initiative requires at the most basic level affecting change in 3 dimensions: people, process, and products. This requires a “systems” approach to the problem and we find the most successful companies are ones who recognize the enormity of the challenge and ensure that there is:

  1. A clear mandate and definition of success

  2. A champion whose entire job is focused on leading this change

  3. An aggressive but achievable project plan (these things take 12-18 months, not 30 days)

  4. Enough budget to purchase the technology AND success plans

  5. A commitment to building strategic partnerships with a few companies versus lots of relationships with vendors.

For a company or a Marketing executive looking to digitally transform their marketing strategy, what do you think is the most important quality for those individuals to have in order to overcome setbacks and challenges?

IBM released a CMO study recently that we have been referencing quite a bit lately. They identify key archetypes within an organization and the “mindset” of each exhibit.

In this report, they identify three marketing archetypes: Reinventors, Practitioners, and Aspirationals. Reinventors, representing about 30% of the total, are the standouts. IBM reports that these folks outperform their peers in both revenue growth and profitability, and lead as well in innovation.

In every successful implementation of Percolate, we find there is a “reinventor” who is the executive sponsor of radical change–the person who gets the problem, has defined a strategy and is confident in their ability to see what others don’t.

While IBM’s report is ostensibly about CMOs, what I’ve seen throughout my whole career, is that it’s not about the title, it’s about the mindset. There are reinventors throughout organizations creating meaningful lasting change. Once you identify these people, the key is giving them space to define what’s next. It’s a theme we take to heart at Percolate. In fact, I am sure that many of you are reinventors, and I hope to talk to you!

Digital technologies such as AI are making waves in the industry. What are key technology trends you keeping your eye on this year?

The predictive revolution in digital marketing is upon us as we move into 2018, ushered in by three forces: Algorithmic Attribution, Applied AI, and Dynamic Content. The most innovative predictive marketers will harness these forces to create individualized, custom consumer experiences, unlike anything that we have done before.

1.  Algorithmic Attribution

Predictive marketers are starting to better understand their audiences as individuals via unified profiles and are able to create meaningful experiences across every device, leading to last touch attribution falling short. By definition, the last touch doesn’t capture the complexity of interactions between a brand and consumer that might result in an eventual move from awareness to conversion, nor does it capture the complexity of interactions across devices.

2018 will see the testing and development of new AI-powered “algorithmic attribution” models that move away from the last touch and toward more comprehensive assessments. These models will certainly redefine the way predictive marketers measure ROI and, potentially, could radically change the way they allocate dollars.

2.  Applied AI

2018 will be a year in which AI takes another step forward in prominence and capability. Over the past 2 years, we saw marked advancements, with IBM pushing its Watson AI more aggressively and Salesforce launching Einstein as Marc Benioff touts an “AI-first world”. AI is cool again. Part of this is due to the rise of the Internet of Things. There will be 30 billion connected devices by 2020, according to McKinsey & Co, and while not every connected device is an advertising opportunity, every device is a potential source of data that can deepen a brand’s understanding of a consumer’s context, behavior, and intent.

Big Data has now become IMMENSE Data and the challenges of collecting, processing, and acting have multiplied exponentially. Predictive marketers who want to take advantage of this data to create meaningful experiences in the moments that matter needs the computing power to augment both their ability to understand, act and respond in real-time — what we call Applied AI. To tie all the pieces together, marketers need the ability to learn from the data and improve the specificity of a campaign — getting the right content to the right audience at the right time. With the amount of data being assembled and put to use, an amount that is beyond human scale, artificial intelligence provides the most effective way to process the data and make informed decisions.

3.   Dynamic Content 2.0

The next marketing problem that AI will help solve is content. A seminal example is ING’s “The Next Rembrandt” campaign which used data to create an astonishing, entirely new painting in the style of the old master. But this is only the beginning of what we call Dynamic Content 2.0. Through AI-powered media optimization, marketers can identify millions of people as individuals (aka unique snowflakes) but they are limited by the cost and complexity of building content especially video to create truly individual experiences for each person. In 2018, predictive marketers will combine AI with these content management systems to process and assemble creative components into custom experiences in real time. Dynamic Content will enable the most innovative content directors to bridge the gap between art and science, which has far-reaching implications for how agencies and brands are organized. We have already begun to see the harbingers of this tectonic shift with the debate about the agency of the future.

What are you looking forward to most at our Transformational CMO Day in New York?

At Percolate, our mission is “to define and own the Content Marketing Platform category.”   When you are trying to define a category and educate a market, it is all about determining product/market fit. Product/market fit comes down to being crystal clear about the problem you are trying to solve. To do this, we need to have meaningful conversations with decision makers at top brands about the emerging trends, their biggest priorities, and their key priorities to answer the following questions:

  1. The problem you are solving is actually an important one

  2. The problem affects enough companies to be a big enough category to go after

  3. The solution you are proposing provides enough value so that you can be fairly compensated

Events like these, where you have a relatively smaller group of leaders and an even smaller group of vendors allows us to have more in-depth conversations with peers facing the same challenges.

What do you see as the benefits of attending an event like ours, that brings together C-Level executives in an intimate setting?

On a personal level, I have found these events to be immensely valuable. You can cross-pollinate with peers who are trying to grow brands, build thriving cultures, and make a dent in the universe. It’s hard to do and as any C-suite executive knows, it is both lonely and daunting. Being able to meet and LEARN from others who understand what it takes to break through in today’s always-on world is valuable. It is a community that I hope will be a resource for years to come.

About Randy Wootton

Randy Wootton is the CEO of Percolate. Randy has been a leader and strategic innovator in the marketing technology industry for over 20 years.Prior to Percolate, he served as CEO of leading predictive marketing platform Rocket Fuel, where he re-positioned the company and led its sale to Sizmek. During his career, Randy has held senior positions at Microsoft and Salesforce. He serves on the Board of Directors at Guidant Financial and Rally Point Networks and is a graduate of Harvard Business School, St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy.

About Percolate

Percolate’s complete web and mobile software platform helps the world’s leading brands and agencies deliver unified, inspired customer experiences across all marketing channels. By automating repetitive work, improving team collaboration and delivering unique brand insights, Percolate is The System of Record for Marketing that helps businesses reduce marketing costs and capture widespread efficiency gains. Percolate has offices in New York City, San Francisco, Miami, and London, and our customers include iconic, global brands like Unilever, Mastercard, Cisco, and Levi’s. To learn more about how Percolate helps teams achieve their most ambitious marketing goals, visit us today at www.percolate.com.

You can meet Percolate at our Transformational CMO Day New York and follow along on social media using #MillenniumLive for more insights. 


Marketing has never been more complicated. Wading through the flood of new technologies to stay ahead of the latest trends is a constant challenge for CMOs.

Increasingly, CMOs are seeking opportunities to gather together to debate the latest marketing trends. By working with our Members and Advisory Board, we are launching a series of 1-day events in major cities across the United States. We understand that for C-Level executives time is precious, so we are bringing the best content and solution providers to you.

Join us in June 2018 for the first CMO Day in the Mecca of marketing, New York City.

With high-level content, disruptive solution providers, and enhanced networking opportunities, this one-day event promises to provide you with the knowledge you need to take advantage of the latest marketing technology.

Take a glimpse into our one-day event and download your copy of the event brochure here>>

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