Liz Musch: an interview with Verto’s Newest Board Member
We’re excited to welcome Liz Musch to the board of Verto Analytics. Liz has spent more than 25 years leading multinational professional and marketing services companies, most recently serving as the Global CEO of two divisions at Ipsos: their Loyalty and ASI brand and communications divisions. To learn more about her background, please read our press release announcing her appointment. We had the chance to speak with Liz earlier this month to get her perspective on the market research industry and what disruptions and disruptors still lie in store.
In your words, give a brief summary of your background
My headline would be: brand & business builder with a passion for international, tech, and diversity. My first career was advertising – I started in New York, and that’s what brought me over to Europe, and I stayed in it for more than 20 years. That got me into marketing in general, and from there, I became interested in the internet and how the web has changed everything. I subsequently had two gigs with Kantar/WPP, Millward Brown & Added Value, followed by two with Ipsos, running their Loyalty business and then running their brand & communications business.
What I’ve always enjoyed is working with clients and organizations, helping them build or repair their brands, and helping them understand how to have strong relationships with their customers and clients. I think I’ve always have a soft spot for research: understanding consumers, understanding people, the human condition.
What interested you in Verto?
I wanted a board opportunity in the tech space. I believe in Verto: strong leader, single source, potential to make a real difference in the media and audience measurement space.
When I first started learning about Verto, I thought they might have the ability to give Nielsen and comScore a run for their money, in the media measurement and audience measurement space, which I think is a really cool battle to have and to take part in.
In your words, what’s the biggest problem facing publishers and brands today?
Everyone is completely obsessed with becoming digital without even knowing what that is. We used to know how marketing worked: you ‘do this right’, and then you have success. You ‘do that right’, and then you have success.
None of that exists anymore, and the acceleration of change is enormous. In this new world, they don’t know what’s important, or how important anything is, and they don’t have a good handle on relationships with the customers that are most important to them. There’s a lot of noise out there, but it’s hard to have clarity on what’s important. The cacophony is confusing to advertisers. Often they’re not getting the feedback that they need, and when they do get feedback, they don’t know what perspective it’s from: is this representative? Important? A generalization that I can use to drive my strategy? They just don’t know enough about what’s going on and why. And to make matters work, they are learning how to behave and communicate in this ever-changing, primarily mobile, world.
What is the pain point that Verto can solve?
Media investment decisions, for one. Marketers never have the budgets they want, they need to make choices, and Verto allows them to have the holistic singularly accurate view of the entire media space and their audiences. How do you spend your marketing money, how do you spend your media money? How do you decide what the focus should be? These are huge problems in today’s business world. The information that you get from Verto should give you a better understanding, as a marketer, about the people you go after and why, where they are and what they’re doing, and how your brand can become a part of that.
Verto makes sense within this new world because it’s single source and because it’s trying to give Nielsen and comScore a run for their money in terms of media measurement and audience measurement. I think that Verto can play a role in this world by being a new currency. I find that very interesting and I think that’s very interesting for clients.
And why is the focus on single source so crucial?
In their imperative to keep pace with the connected consumer, marketers are diversifying their media allocation between even more channels and touchpoints. Yet, with this diversification comes the need for a more holistic understanding of the effectiveness of their advertising and media.
I was really hit by Verto’s single source [methodology], which I think is hugely important in today’s world; it’s as simple as comparing apples and oranges. Counting 4 apples and 5 oranges and saying you have 9 at the end is not correct if apples are in fact 1.5 times more important to my client than oranges are. I think what a single currency or single source does for you is that it tells you how much each of those are worth. Every single time. An apple is going to be worth more to one brand or a person than another. And that’s why single source is important.
How has the research industry evolved? What can we do now that we couldn’t do before?
I think it’s an industry of traditionalists. Researchers – particularly quantitative researchers – have a lot of passion for their stats and their numbers and the significant differences that they want to underline. But they’re not very open, exploratory or strategic and they’re not very conceptual. It took the research world way too long to start doing work online or on mobile. It’s a very insular, conservative community. I know I’m making huge generalizations, and there are of course exceptions to the rule, but the industry is evolving because it has to, and more slowly than it should.
The industry is trying to play catch-up. I think there’s an opportunity – not just for Verto, but for others as well – to disrupt the market. I think it’s going to be difficult for the Nielsens and WPPs and IPSOS’ of the world to hold on to as much of the market as they have. The established players have too much to lose by being at the forefront of new better ways to do things: it would immediately cannibalize their business and reduce their revenues. So the change has to come primarily from new babies and new entrants and new ideas. A lot of the innovation today in the research space has come from tech – people who don’t even know research.
One example is the customer experience space. We used to do big customer satisfaction studies, using very boring, hefty, classic questionnaire research. In today’s world, thanks to tech platforms and automated programming, we are able to pick up all this data and information from very different sources, and understand exactly what kind of experience customers are having with Brand A, Brand B, etc. I think it’s one example of many: the research industry is changing, almost without them. I’m exaggerating a bit, because there are people in the research industry who are innovating and doing new things. But as a whole, the industry is getting shaken up from the outside, and now they’re trying to protect themselves and hold on their business before it gets picked up by tech players and consultants and other competitors that they never had to worry about before.