Blog post

Q&A with David Edelman, renowned marketer and OfferFit advisor

Q&A with David Edelman, renowned marketer and OfferFit advisor
Written byGeorge Khachatryan
Published14 Dec 2020

We’re thrilled to announce that David Edelman has joined OfferFit’s Board of Advisors!

David is a leading voice on marketing technology. He was previously a Fortune 50 CMO (Aetna) and held senior leadership roles with McKinsey, BCG, and Digitas.

We interviewed David about the future of marketing. Read on to see his reflections on AI, personalization, and what marketing and music have in common.

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Q: Marketers are increasingly turning to AI. Why?

Marketers are using AI to handle the explosion of complexity. 

First, marketers are overwhelmed with the data that is available – the sources of data are enormous and are growing all the time. Second, there are ever more touchpoints with customers that marketers need to influence. Rather than “throw out an offer and get a purchase,” marketers today are managing longitudinal relationships with customers in which they have many interactions over time. And third, there are so many new channels! The old channels (even direct mail) remain relevant and are often effective, but now marketers also have access to a wide range of new digital channels. With wearables on the horizon, this trend will only continue.

This richness of data and media creates tremendous opportunity. But trying to sort through this complexity using the old methods is impossible. To take full advantage of it, you need AI. 

Q: For many years, you’ve been a leading advocate for one-to-one personalization in marketing. Why do you think personalization is so important for companies to get right?

It’s simple: relevance matters.

Consumers today are inundated with offers through all kinds of media. To break through the noise, companies need to connect with what resonates with customers – and that’s different for each person. Good personalization means sending each customer the right offer, through the right channel, with the right creative, at the right time.

Of course, the real challenge has always been: How do you do this at scale? That’s why I first became interested in OfferFit.

Q: Why did you decide to join OfferFit’s Board of Advisors?

I’ve experienced firsthand the problem OfferFit is solving. I’ve led marketing programs that were trying to get to a segment of one. Even with the technologies we were using, it still required constant trial and error, testing and learning, and manual spreadsheets. And even then, we always ended up with a lot of averages. We just didn’t have the tools to get close to a segment of one. When I learned about OfferFit, I was impressed with how the company is tackling this issue of how to optimize across the endless range of variables you can consider in an offer.

Another reason I believe in the technology is that it lowers the risk of innovation for marketers. By automating the testing process, OfferFit makes it easier and safer for marketers to try new things.

Q: Where do you see digital marketing in 10 years?

I think trust will play an increasingly central role. Consumers will expect companies to protect their privacy and preferences. At the same time, they’ll want companies to show them that they understand their individual needs. Brands will need to earn customers’ trust by relating to them and giving them the right offers. That will make it even more important for marketers to achieve “segment of one” marketing.

Q: When you’re not helping marketers, what do you do in your spare time?

I play the saxophone. In school and college, I played in jazz bands and directed theater pit orchestras. I recently took it up again – I take lessons every other week and play in a jazz combo.

There are so many parallels between music and marketing! They both combine right brain with left brain. They’re both about teamwork. They’re both creative, but with structure. I think that’s what drew me to marketing in the first place.

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