Data and the New Creative Class - Interview with Brian Zuercher, VP Strategic Partnerships at ICX Me
Discussions revolving around the implementation of data in the content marketing pipeline have changed over the course of a calendar year. In as much time as it’s taken to get decision makers on board with consumer analysis, the word data has become synonymous with measurement, relegating it to the last item listed on a post-production to-do list. Enter companies like ICX Media who are out to upend that definition by demonstrating the value of integrating data early in the creative process, achieving a balance between creativity and data science that uplifts all. Brand Storytelling met with ICX Media’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Brian Zuercher to discuss the art/science balance and how ICX helps achieve that balance for creators and marketers alike.
How did ICX Media get its start? What was the impetus for opening up shop?
At the heart of ICX Media is a curiosity about the future convergence of art and science. Our founder, Mike Avon has been operating at the intersection of data and marketing for years.Mike helped launch Millennial Media as a venture capitalist and later joined the company to lead its successful growth phase and IPO (NYSE: MM).
ICX Media is a response to the ‘democratization of content’-- a phenomenon born from the prevalence of mobile technology and ability for everyone to self-broadcast on social platforms. With this revolution of the media industry comes the new emergence of a “creative class.” ICX Media allows both creators and marketers access to better data about audiences, to inform their future creative endeavors, which in turn provides better video for content consumers.
Tell us about the growth ICX has seen over the last year and how that’s changed the company’s capabilities.
For the first 18-24 months, the ICX Media team focused on building out the core technology to withstand massive data and computational needs associated with processing video and video data at scale. For the last 7 months, ICX Media has been focused on going to market. We’ve grown to 40 employees including installing our presence in NYC and LA. In May we acquired SEEN, a Columbus, OH-based creator tech and service company that had been working with big brand clients bringing to life creator storytelling through influencer marketing campaigns and media properties.With this high-caliber team and established tech foundation in place, we are now moving beyond project-based work to begin onboarding our first major enterprise clients in media, entertainment, and brand marketing. Fun times!
The AI core is central to ICX enabling data and creative harmony - how does it work?
The AI engine at ICX Media is constantly learning and generating insights by looking at and analyzing videos and audience engagements to those videos. For media companies, creators, studios and other storytellers, ICX Media brings that audience understanding to bear in order to help narrow in on what drives audience engagement. For example, is there white space that is being ignored? And which creators (both topically and individuals) are hitting that audience? We use the line “create with confidence,” by which we mean increasing creative capacity with a specific purpose. Audiences win because they get to consume better content and creators win because they please audiences and find continual growth.
What is the greatest obstacle you face when working with brands in this space?
We are sympathetic to brand marketers and the incredible challenges they face. The digital landscape is changing at a breathtaking pace. Our biggest obstacle is helping brand marketers weave data into their strategies early enough in the creative process so it can help inform the downstream tactics and creative output. We want to show brands how data should be an integral part of the creative process-- not just a measuring stick at the end. In the past data was primarily a hindsight tool, so shifting thinking to foresight is our crusade.
What excites you about data-driven storytelling that creators, agencies, and brands in this space should get excited about too?
We’re excited to see the very specific types of content that creators will make when there is more confidence that the audience is available and interested. An idea that might have been hard to justify before -- because the audience for it wasn’t obvious -- could now be realized. It really comes down to connections: when you first meet someone, you may have a single common interest point. But when you spend more time with them, you begin to realize other shared passions that weren’t readily apparent. We believe that brands can, and should, do this with their audiences. The outcome is better content and better connections. We’re confident that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
What’s on the horizon for ICX Media?
It’s early, but we’re already seeing a ton of momentum in very localized content and programming. We talk about ‘local’ meaning specific interest groups and also local geographies. We’re actively building a service bureau that will be ‘always on’ delivering product and serving teams who are moving quickly to create and deliver content.
About ICX Media
ICX Media is revolutionizing the digital media market by enabling data-inspired storytelling; transforming the way video is created, distributed, and monetized. ICX Media’s proprietary smart platform harnesses advanced artificial intelligence and adaptive learning technologies to help brands, media companies and content creators create and share more impactful, engaging videos with data-backed confidence. The ICX Media community connects nearly 1 million independent creators with brands, media and entertainment companies to make turnkey talent sourcing, scalable video production, accelerated audience creation and cost-effective distribution now possible. ICX Media believes everyone has a meaningful story to share. Now everyone can.
About Brian Zuercher
Brian Zuercher leads Strategic Partnerships for ICX Media. He has spent the last 15 years building technology companies. Brian joined ICX Media through the acquisition of his last company SEEN Digital Media -- a pioneer in the influencer marketing industry. Prior to founding SEEN, Brian founded and led Clearwish a social ecommerce technology used by national retailers to encourage consumers to make cross-channel purchases. Brian has an extensive background in product development, technology commercialization, and venture finance.
Brian is active in the Columbus and national entrepreneurial ecosystems. He has led several grass root organizations and events like Columbus Startup Week and WakeUp StartUp, the monthly morning pitch event for entrepreneurs.
Brian holds a BS in Marketing from Butler University and an MBA in Technology Commercialization from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. When he’s not hopping a plane to visit potential ICX Media partners, he is training for ultra-marathons and trail runs, making an enviable breakfast, or arguing with his 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Scarlet.