The 1-to-1 Vision Behind 10 Years of Innovation at Monetate

By ​David Brussin

January 22, 2018

In commemoration of Monetate’s tenth anniversary, co-founder David Brussin offers his reflections on the role the company has played in the development of ecommerce marketing, and the journey of its growth into the full-fledged omnichannel personalization solution that it is today. Read on for his take on what the last ten years have meant for digital marketing and where things may be going next.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Monetate, and we are immensely proud to be where we are today. For ten years we’ve been working to lead the world of digital marketing toward a particular vision, one in which brands are empowered to offer individualized experiences to each person they connect with. A lot has changed over the last decade: the capabilities afforded to us by new innovations in technology have transformed how we are delivering on that vision; yet the vision itself has remained consistent.

From the early days of this company, our mission has been to enable “meaningful interactions, with each individual, at any moment, across all touchpoints, using everything shared between you.”

That concept has always driven our work here at Monetate. Now, we are finally reaching the moment when developments in the market have advanced the public conversation about, and demand for, sophisticated personalization solutions: the market has caught up to the vision. And now more than ever we are poised to truly deliver on that original promise.

The Origins of Personalization and the Founding of Monetate

The concept of tech-enabled personalized marketing has been around for longer than one might think: it first gained traction when I was starting my career in technology in the early 1990s. As the Internet began to open up to commercial activity, the marketers that I was working with were captivated by the idea that this new medium would allow them to interact with customers in fundamentally different ways, ways that weren’t possible in the physical world. You can’t rearrange the store or tear down and rebuild the highway billboard for every customer. But, theoretically, in digital experiences those constraints were lifted and anything was possible. And the “anything” that people were so fired up about was 1-to-1. What’s more, there was a sense that this capability was very close at hand.

Years later, in 2007, my previous company had just been acquired and I was considering potential projects. I came back to see what progress had been made on commerce and digital marketing, and I was very surprised to find that things had gone almost nowhere—in some ways, they had even moved backwards. At the time, CMOs and commerce leaders said it literally cost more and took longer to change their websites than it did to tweak their physical store merchandizing or shoot a new TV ad. This effect was the exact opposite of the 1-to-1 vision that had been so compelling a decade and a half earlier—I was in disbelief that instead of getting the roadblocks out of the way of the marketer, the effect of technology had thus far been to create even more barriers to personalized marketing.

It was in reaction to this paradox that my partner David Bookspan and I launched Monetate to empower marketers to take control of the experiences that they were offering their customers. We wanted each person’s individuality to represent an opportunity instead of an obstacle, so that brands could embrace the diversity in their audience and create digital experiences that were better for every customer.

Ten Years of Innovation

Over the next ten years, we challenged ourselves and pushed the limits of the market constantly. We have been on a journey of persistent innovation as we built increasingly sophisticated products in pursuit of that vision:

  • 2008 - Monetate’s initial offerings made us the first company to empower business users with a point-and-click interface to implement, test, and improve customer experiences without technical help. Soon we were also the first to deliver real-time data directly to the marketer, so that they could use the most current information available to make decisions for how to serve an individual customer.
  • 2011 - On the strength of those first steps, we became the most popular provider of personalization in the Internet Retailer 500.
  • 2012 - Our next development was a targeting and segmentation solution that enabled marketers to create more sophisticated experiences that reflected insights about their audience groups.
  • 2013 - We enhanced our solution to include product recommendations, which quickly saw rapid market adoption.
  • 2016 - Monetate introduced Majority Fit Experiences, our first use of online learning AI, to power automated testing and optimization.
  • In April of 2017, we shipped the Monetate Intelligent Personalization EngineTM, which brings three cutting-edge capabilities together in a single platform: data, decisions, and analytics all in real-time; an open, extensible platform; and artificial intelligence capability at full 1-to-1 scale that combines the nuance of machine learning with the insights of human marketers.
  • By January of 2018, The Engine represented ⅓ of Monetate’s annual recurring revenue and was powering previously impossible real-time, cross-channel custom use cases in personalization, driven by enhanced customer data.

Now, after ten years of developing solutions that have defined the growing personalization market, we find ourselves more aligned than ever with the original idea that we set out to pursue: to empower the marketer to create experiences that meet each individual customer’s needs, based on all the information they have shared. Today, the suite of Monetate products fully delivers on that promise—and even exceeds it. We offer three layers of personalization, from testing and segmentation all the way to 1-to-1 experiences, in real time, and across all channels from digital to in-store. But, what’s more, the combination of machine learning and human marketers gives us capabilities that now surpass the initial concept of personalized digital marketing, as the Engine delivers insights back to the marketer that further inform the experiences they design. And the reach of the platform also exceeds the early fantasy of the customized website by connecting with customers across all touchpoints, including informing the interactions between shoppers and in-store associates. Most rewarding of all, our clients’ proven success with these products speaks to the power of personalization, inspiring us to push the vision even further.

The Partnerships that Drive our Work

We are incredibly proud of our accomplishments, and if the numbers we’ve gathered are any indication, they are already shaping the future. But we recognize that it isn’t our work alone that has brought us to this point: our customers push us and we push our customers in equal measure. Choosing to work with Monetate is a statement that goes beyond your immediate business goals: you work with us because you want to make progress today, but also because you want to make progress toward that vision that has driven so many of us in digital marketing over the past 25 years. We have been building toward this point together from day one, and we look forward to seeing what we can accomplish as partners for the next ten years to come and beyond.

David Brussin is an entrepreneur and innovator whose career has been dedicated to helping marketers succeed in the digital world. In 1996, David co-founded InfoSec Labs, which helped large enterprises move safely into ecommerce and online marketing in the early days of the commercial Internet. Following the success of InfoSec Labs, he co-founded ePrivacy Group, developing technology that allowed marketers to use email to build strong customer relationships, and TurnTide, a technology that protected the value of the email channel by attacking spam in a new and effective way.

David founded Monetate with David Bookspan in 2008 to help online marketers fulfill the long-held promise of using Big Data to get the right experience in front of the right customer at the right time. David collaborates regularly with Monetate customers to understand their challenges and evolve Monetate products to best meet their needs. He is dedicated to shaping and preserving the culture that makes Monetate one of Pennsylvania’s “Best Places to Work.”

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