John Sculley And David Steinberg Explain How Zeta Interactive Works with Big Brands to Track Engagement

Last week we had a chance to sit down with the founders of Zeta Interactive, an online marketing service — which isn’t the first company that brought CEO David Steinberg and former Apple CEO John Sculley together.

Zeta Interactive focuses on using data-mining and analytics to basically track where a customer came from. The example the pair used was tracking a car test drive from a media campaign run by a company like Ford. That kind of attribution is easy for a company like Google because it basically comes from a click on a search result page, but for traditional media like television it’s much harder to figure out — which is where Zeta Interactive comes in to inform companies of the success of their marketing campaigns.

“That attribution says, is it working or not, because if enough people don’t activate a phone or buy a policy, the marketing wasn’t well spent,” Steinberg said. “So the future of marketing, in our opinion, is attribution and allocation versus. how do we build this huge brand. A lot of dollars are spent on branding on ecosystems where they will ultimately focus on acquisition, retention and monetization.”

Zeta Interactive’s online services support many other parts of the sales and marketing process as well. Sculley, for example, says that keeping track of customers coming and going is another important part of the online marketing puzzle — something Zeta Interactive works with companies to monitor.

“The things I look for in terms of key metrics, what’s the sale cycle to acquire a new customer,” Sculley said. “In the case where it’s about three months which is about half for a software as a service business, then what’s the value of that customer in terms of revenue? In our case its $500,000 to $10 million for some of our largest customers. The scale of this business has made this company one of the largest data analytics companies in the world.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the creative component of advertising will disappear — far from it, Steinberg said. But Zeta Interactive’s goal is to use data to figure out who of a pool of 350 million-ish people are the most likely to match up with what a marketer is seeking.

“We would sort them and maybe find 7 million people that really match that target,” he said. “We might email a subset of that group, look who clicks, opens, buys, which appends back to the data warehouse, which teaches us more. Through plugging in with partners, we’ll look for those attributes in building campaigns”

Sculley and Steinberg started Zeta Interactive in 2007, and previously that had worked on wireless companies like InPhonic, MetroPCS and WireFly. Sculley, of course, was previously CEO of Apple during its tenure when Steve Jobs was not present.

We couldn’t let Sculley leave right away without telling his best story about Jobs, wherein he explained how he worked with Jobs to actually draw the original concept of the “Mac Phone.” (You can see that full story in the video below.)