Notes from Button’s 2019 TAP summit

6 minute read

I had the privilege of getting an invite from James Teodorini to Button’s TAP summit 2019. Button hosted a great lineup of speakers and organised an excellent event overall. Notes below:

Jennifer Fleiss, Jetblack

  • Jetblack’s about conversational commerce, text messaging personal shopper. Average user spend monthly is $1.5k [LL- wow]
  • Since we’re interaction based, we can better understand why customers bounce e.g the price is too high vs just making assumptions
  • Why do we think this is achievable now?
    • Timing is right, new types of behaviour from customers
    • Text is trusted form of communication
    • We now have technical tools such as machine learning or ability to take a picture and send it to the shopper
    • We’re owned and fully funded by Walmart
  • Great gift wrapping and garment bags were a big marketing opportunity that Rent the Runway capitalised on. Others still don’t focus on this [LL- things that seem low to no ROI short term but actually matter]
  • What’s our difference vs AMZN?
    • AMZN shopping is transactional
    • Online shopping has become more of a chore. Price is fine, product is ok, speed is now ok [LL- recall how Bezos likes to talk about the customer never being satisfied]
    • We can create moments of delight
    • Discover interesting, fun, one of a kind products
    • Items not available on amazon
  • How do we work with influencers?
    • We want authentic partnerships
    • Potentially give them equity in order to be bought in
  • 3 things I’d tell other founders?
    • Follow the customer voice. e.g. we still do customer service calls and are looking to retail stores
    • Get your minimum viable product out asap
    • When customers say no, they usually mean not right now

Josh Fried - Waze, Sarah McCrary - GasBuddy, Elan Mosbacher - SpotHero, Chris Snyder - Via

  • Organic and referrals have been key to growth
  • What do we think about integration with other apps?
    • For GasBuddy, we haven’t had that much succcess. Were seeing us getting a lot of breadth but moving far away from original context
    • For Waze, we want seamless integration across apps, e.g. spotify in Waze. However it’s a hard problem and takes a long time
  • How do we think about the offline experience?
    • For Via, we intentionally went through an extremely manual process to improve the pickup process by giving exact instructions of where to stand e.g. at an intersection, the SW corner, in front of the Starbucks [LL- being customer obsessed is tedious]
    • For SpotHero, we are providing hardware and software to garages that have not historically been tech enabled

Michael Jaconi, Button

  • Google and Yahoo anecdote. Yahoo not wanting to implode their business model of display to go after better search results. Google then choosing to do so and dominating. How do you bet on what to pursue 5 years from now?
  • There’s a $440bn opportunity if 75% of online spend is spent on mobile
  • Performance marketing is
    • Profitable, higher margin, can use that to reinvest in other channels
    • Provable
    • Predictable
  • However, right now it has high effectiveness but low efficiency
  • Despite all top brands spending on performance, 0% of them are spending performance on dynamic audiences
  • Historically a company marketing department would spend up to their budget on a channel.
  • Now with Button you can inch up that spend to hit efficient spend, and get both high effectiveness and high efficiency

Joy Robins, Washington Post

  • Bezos cares more about the product than ads
  • Formed a RED team at WaPo to create a better experience. The new Zeus product for faster loading times came out of this team
  • Absolutely not turning our back on ads. But we think that ultimately subscribers are going to be what differentiates you. How can you get loyalty at scale?
  • Realised that readers wanted more authentic travel stories [LL- push to authenticity seems to be a trend]
  • We think about what a polite experience looks like, and that’s not just an ad free experience
  • How can publishers compete as a platform against FB and GOOG on performance marketing?
    • It’s hard. Advertisers want to support us but efficiency on FB and GOOG is too strong
    • Takes data, timeliness, and efficiency
    • With the right tech, e.g. RED and Zeus insights
  • Want to develop better targeting capability

Arthur Sevilla, Pinterest

  • It’s hard to translate that physical experience of shopping and joy of discovery to digital
  • Shopping has decreased the experience in favour of the transaction [LL- a repeated theme this summit of wanting to improve the experience]
  • Pinterest is a visual discovery engine
  • Users actually find our branded content useful and relevant

Aditya Goel - Revolut, Babak Farrokh-Siar Jr - Acorns, Lowell Putnam - Plaid, Derek Joyce - Klarna

  • Acorns is about how do you make these big financial decisions small
  • Millenials care about financial wellness
  • Plaid’s view is that the amount of change in financial partners is so fast we can’t predict which fail
    • That’s why we build connections with all
    • Our moat is that it’s hard work to build all those connections
  • Plaid announcement of Visa and Mastercard partnership goes to show they’re no longer walled gardens
  • In the US, where merchant fees are still a high 2-4%, getting that 1% or more back is important. Merchants are sensitive
  • Customer obsession is key. If you don’t focus on the small things, someone else will

Ivan Markman, Verizon Media

  • A third subscription, a third ads, a third commerce is the goal for our revenue mix. Still mostly ads now.
  • The world has blurred the lines between non-commercial and transactional
  • Our industry is still stuck in the ad model [LL- recall Google vs Yahoo anecdote. It’s hard to change]
  • We want to not only increase the relevancy of ads but also know when not to show ads
  • At the government level noone’s getting complaints about privacy
  • We’re excited about 5G, the immersion and speed possibilities. Sustainability and energy efficiency improvements
  • We can identify extreme cases of fake news, but for all the rest in the middle, we want to provide consumers choice

Josh Luber, StockX

  • We started as a price guide, and became the default sneaker guide back when Ebay was the default marketplace
  • Back then we wanted to work with others but couldn’t find a good fit company to work with
  • Met Dan Gilbert of the Clippers, and he had the same idea of having a stock market of things
  • How did we initially find sellers?
    • That’s the hardest problem in internet companies
    • Almost any of them struggle with supply
    • In the beginning we got sellers easily since they wanted to try all sales channels
    • Our model is also just a better model
  • We dominated in SEO since we have just one page for each model, and that helps us get better paid spend
  • The anonymous nature of the sale is good for us. We’re sitting in the middle authenticating the items. Buyers and sellers hate each other, so now they just hate us instead.
  • Customer service is the biggest team and the likely key point of failure
  • How do we maintain the authentication process at scale?
    • It’s process. We literally created that role of sneaker authenticator since it didn’t exist before
    • Document everything
    • Use tech, e.g. scales and density measures
    • Training of people
  • When we have conversations with brands such as Nike, we use the anecdote of the ticketing industry. There was initial unhappiness about the ticketing sites but they’ve now blurred the line between retail and resale.
  • We don’t want to be the cheapest platform but also not the most expensive, want middle of the road pricing

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