Conversation with Bryan Gernert of Resonate

The Revolution team sat down with Resonate CEO Bryan Gernert to hear his perspective on leading a high-growth company. Throughout his career Bryan has led businesses through periods of significant transformation and growth. Before joining Resonate, Bryan served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Americas for Cybertrust. Previously, at Digex, Incorporated, a global web hosting and managed services provider, Bryan grew a start-up company into a business with an annual revenue run rate of $240 million. 


What does your business do and what makes it revolutionary?

At the highest level, we are the first company to enable marketers to reach consumers, via online media, based on why they have a predisposition to respond. In other words we are identifying the motivating factors behind their actions – their underlying values, beliefs and attitudes.

No one is compelled to purchase a product or support a candidate or issue just because of their demographics. Yet, traditionally, that is how people have been targeted – which is at best inefficient and at times downright wrong. Given the velocity and volume of data at advertisers’ fingertips today, this antiquated method of reaching people is obsolete.  We eliminate the gap by finding the underlying values and attitudes that is at the heart of those decisions, as well as layering in filters such as demographics and behaviors.  Once clients understand that, they can deliver a message that truly resonates with their audience.

In addition, at the end of 2012, we expanded our media services by launching Illuminate.  Illuminate is the industry’s first analytics and insights platform that enables brands and advertisers to see firsthand the motivation behind consumers’ decisions. It takes audience insights to a completely new level.


What is the biggest change going on in your industry right now & how do you think it will impact the competitive landscape?

Today it’s about understanding how to gather the massive amount of data that’s out there and then make it work for a customer. Marketers are paralyzed with data. Media delivery and analytics firms do themselves no favors by providing more when the client asks for it. The reality is that they don’t want “more,” they want answers to the questions that keep them up at night. Things like “How do I get people to buy my product, support my cause or candidate?”

As marketing departments and agencies consolidate their ad buying, they need to know – in real time – what’s happening and why people are responding.  Certainly big data helps with that answer, but it has to be delivered in a concise and actionable manner.

Companies that can adapt to this change will succeed.  The rest will be left sitting on mountains of data that no one knows what to do with.


If someone reading this is NOT in your sector, do you think there are any implications for them?  Will your business have a ripple effect into any other industries?

Certainly this has the biggest impact on media.  And although we focus on digital right now, the audience insights we deliver to customers apply across all media, including TV.  As we learn more about viewership through set top boxes, AppleTV, Netflix, etc., this will certainly be applicable.  And the public will eventually demand it: “Do the same thing on my TV that you do for my web and mobile experience!” 

And think of the effects on political advertising. I live in Virginia, but because we’re part of the DC metro market, we were bombarded with television ads this fall for Prop 7, the Maryland gambling proposition. Think of the wasted ad dollars spent on reaching a population who can’t even vote on their issue. Imagine being able to not just target on location, but based on attributes such as level of engagement, persuadability, or issue position.

Outside of media, Resonate’s audience insights are incredibly valuable in potentially shaping companies’ businesses, from product concept to consumer purchase and feedback.  Most times today when marketers work with us, the product has already been created as well as the messaging and creative. However, the deep understanding we possess of why people do what they do can provide amazing opportunities to companies. Based on our understanding, we can provide real world / real time feedback that can be leveraged to improve product development, product positioning, competitive analysis, creative and messaging — just to name a few.


Last but not least, what’s the biggest myth about being a CEO of a fast-growing company?

There’s a perception that as CEO, the majority of my time is spent attending C-level meetings and high profile events. And there’s certainly an element of that, but the reality is that the majority of my days are spent digging deep into the metrics of the business and playing devil’s advocate.  My job is to not be surprised. Identifying potential pitfalls and navigating around them is what allows us to scale and grow quickly. And of course there’s also the hiring aspect. While I don’t need to know everyone’s job well enough to do it, I need to know enough to understand what how each job fits into the big picture.