Q&A: Quantcast’s Amit Kotecha on why businesses should be unafraid of innovation

Sponsored content produced in collaboration with Quantcast. Views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect ClickZ’s opinions. amit kotecha

Next Friday 18th November will bring together digitally-savvy brands from across the worlds of publishing, advertising, artificial intelligence and sport for Supernova 2016, Quantcast’s annual conference about all things data and digital.

Ahead of the conference, ClickZ spoke to Amit Kotecha, EMEA Marketing Director at Quantcast, about the importance of embracing innovation, how brands can innovate digitally and still keep costs down, and whether there is such a thing as a ‘digital business’ in 2016.


This year’s Supernova is all about embracing innovation and rethinking the rules in a digital world. Why is it important for companies to be unafraid of embracing innovation?

In terms of where the world of business is headed, I see it as inevitable that companies will become fully digital in the coming years, and we’ll see many more digital-first businesses developing at pace. We’re living in a moment where the combination of vast amounts of data – and technology to understand that data – are providing deep insights into the inner workings of us as human beings, into our health and much more.

This era of innovation is something that needs to be harnessed, and the best way for businesses to embrace innovation is to make sure they’re driven by a passionate curiosity. Fortunately the culture of “fail faster” can help both entrepreneurs and established business leaders alike to understand that you will fail more times than you succeed in business, but that isn’t something to be afraid of. Each moment provides an opportunity to learn.

Uber is a great example of a company that bucked the trend and made a leap of faith while accepting it could fail fast. Competition within the taxi market both in the US and abroad was already looking fierce, but rather than owning any cars or employing any people, Uber built its service on the idea that people could benefit from an experience that combined data and technology to create a smart, disruptive force in the transport market.

uber“Uber is a great example of a company that bucked the trend and made a leap of faith while accepting it could fail fast.” | Image by freestocks.org


In the next stage of their evolution, launching services like UberEats and non-human transport and delivery services, the company has become so much more than a taxi service that it’s hard to say that London’s Black Cabs are their rivals any longer. By bringing its magic concoction of real-time updates for users and fast, data-driven organisation of delivery drivers, the company has taken a sizeable wedge out of a number of industries, which very few will have seen coming.

In terms of tech innovation, this year has been a groundbreaking year for AI. The crux of this shift is that businesses are willing to be curious about what they don’t know. There are connections and patterns that an algorithm can pull out of a vast data set that we could never have dreamed of. At Quantcast in particular, we’re seeing our algorithm find numerous unusual and occasionally counter-intuitive insights into user behaviour online – and this is informing an incredibly effective, always-on campaign strategy for our brand clients.

At Supernova, we will be taking a look at the marketing world from the outside in, as we’re all facing the same challenges. One incredible way of doing this is hearing from people from outside of our field on how they use intelligent data insights to inform their own work.

This year we’ve invited gold medal-winning cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny – along with Paul Manning, the most successful Team GB cycling coach in history – to hear how they have innovated their training practices to repeatedly achieve medal-winning performances on the track. In a sport where a tenth of a millisecond is the difference between gold and silver, we will learn how technology gives the team its crucial edge.


For many brands, constantly reimagining their approach to digital and embracing new technologies can seem very time-consuming and expensive. Is there a way that brands can do this while still keeping costs down?

One of the biggest challenges in the marketing world is speed. And we’re not just talking about the speed of analysing information, but speed of business processes too. The speed of processing has become even more critical when these decisions are being made in real-time.

A stock photograph of an accelerometer.“One of the biggest challenges in the marketing world is speed.” | Image via pexels.com


We know from experience that when it comes to investing in business process automation and in raw processing power, the upfront costs can be prohibitively high. But we would argue that the returns are infinitely higher – and as well as seeing our clients benefiting from the automation of their advertising campaigns, this return on initial investment is something we’ve seen borne out at Quantcast ourselves.

In 2016, we took on the challenge of building some of the best foundations possible for automating our business processes. This, in turn, now allows us to experiment faster – and essentially, fail faster, enabling us to reach success faster.

The upfront investment was definitely time and labour intensive, but businesses who are able to make that initial investment in time and resource will have the upper hand when it comes to survival.

Ultimately, Quantcast’s aim is to drive more successful advertising campaigns for the advertisers and agencies that we work with. All of the improvements that we have put in place over the last twelve months will inevitably help drive better, smarter advertising, driven by artificial intelligence that has a laser focus on understanding online human behaviour.


Today’s digital consumers have increasingly high expectations from their interactions with brands, and are also more in control than ever before. How can businesses use this to their advantage?

Using digital to your advantage is the way forward in an increasingly digital-first world. Consumers, rightly so, have higher expectations of their interactions with brands. We should be using a data-led approach to deliver an excellent online experience that responds intelligently to their needs, behaviours, as well as where and when they’re browsing.

By using actionable audience insights, we can more accurately find those users who are genuinely in-market for a brand’s goods or services – or who, based on their preferences, are a prospective customer. The focus for advertisers, agencies and technology companies for the next 12 months should be on cutting out the spam and blind advertising that is shown to millions of web users – through employing intelligence about one user at a time.

Thankfully, technology and processing power have caught up with this idea that there can, and should, be a one-to-one connection between the advertiser and consumer.


Do you believe there is such a thing as a ‘digital business’ in 2016? Is there a still a distinction between companies which are ‘digital’ and ‘non-digital’, or just companies who are more innovative than others?

We know that those companies who thrive are those who have embraced digital throughout their businesses. The difference between digital and non-digital in a business sense is only a difference in the pace of innovation.

Inevitably, businesses are all heading towards the goal of properly harnessing the data at our fingertips, enabling us to see connections within a mass of information, which are currently incomprehensible to the human brain alone. The interconnectivity of our lives mean that data points are being generated on a mass scale every second. Making smart use of this information will give any business an edge over its competition.


“Inevitably, businesses are all heading towards the goal of properly harnessing the data at our fingertips.” | Image via pexels.com


There will always be a need and desire from consumers to engage with a physical presence, to touch, see and feel in the “real world”, but our next 30+ years will be defined by using and talking to the internet as a live entity. It’s going to be far more intertwined into our lives, with everything from our kettles and our alarm clocks telling us that the trains are running late. If you are not connected to this intrinsically-linked network, then it will be nearly impossible to scale a business.

Click here to register now for Supernova 2016.

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