Interview

AITech Interview with Patrick Danial, CTO & Co-Founder at Terakeet

Get to know how two decades of innovation are shaping the future of customer connections and marketing strategies. 

Patrick, please guide us through your journey from co-founding Terakeet in 2001 to guiding its growth for 23 years. How has that shaped your perspective on owned asset optimization and customer connections?

Since the beginning, a constant for Terakeet has been a willingness to evolve. My business partner Mac Cummings and I started the company in 2001, the start of a very tumultuous, exciting, and innovative time in not just the marketing and technology spaces, but the entire world. Because of that, our team has had to anticipate and respond to market shifts within our ever-evolving industry.

Our willingness to humble ourselves and learn has played a significant role in Terakeet’s success. In 2023, we recognized an imminent shift in consumer needs and took charge of the industry’s evolution. This is how owned asset optimization (OAO) originated. Instead of pushing today’s empowered consumer through an arbitrary funnel, we’d use their behavior data to understand what they truly want, then provide content resources to support them, and truly connect.

Over two decades of guiding the company’s product vision, what keeps you motivated to stay at the forefront of technological platforms?

My team is incredibly smart — being around them, and having real trust in their ideas is a powerful thing for me. Together, we solve complex problems by rolling up our sleeves and figuring out new approaches, which can be very fulfilling. Doing this work on behalf of global clients and innovating in the marketing industry, like we’ve had the opportunity to do at Terakeet, adds to that fulfillment even more. I’d say my team’s refusal to take an inefficient status quo as the final state still propels us toward innovation 23 years later.

Terakeet serves as the preferred OAO partner for Fortune 500 brands. How does your unique approach to leveraging owned assets differentiate Terakeet in the market?

Our OAO offering builds on our decades of experience in enterprise SEO, our deep bench of experts, and our proprietary data-driven understanding of consumer intent and preferences. 

Our strategies help brands optimize their digital experiences and establish themselves as the best, most trusted solution to unmet needs throughout the consumer journey. This enhances customer satisfaction and fortifies brand reputation. Our approach prioritizes owned assets, the digital properties brands control, as the path towards impressive cross-channel results including reduced Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and significantly improved ROI across the board.

How does the company stay ahead in terms of innovation to continuously offer a pioneering approach in the industry?
Rather than respond to change, Terakeet has become comfortable with charting a new course for an entire industry. I believe this can be attributed to two things. First,  our team of experts and their unrelenting pursuit of improvement and innovation keeps us on the cutting-edge. Second, our proprietary technology provides us with real-time, accurate consumer behavior and market insights. This data gives us a unique advantage because we can keep a pulse on consumer connection opportunities and build or adjust impactful strategies to meet them.

You emphasize using automation as a strategy, not just a solution. How does this approach allow brands to uncover insights faster and drive more value for customers?

In its current state, using AI to generate complete content presents risks that outweigh the efficiency gains. Current LLM-driven tools, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, while useful, do not inherently optimize content for marketing purposes, such as user experience, conversion, and search visibility. At times, AI-generated content can be nonsensical, repetitive, unethical, contradictory, and, often worst, overly homogeneous due to its public training on low quality, unoriginal, practices. 

Marketers must view AI as a helpful and collaborative tool rather than a marketing panacea. A strong AI strategy must combine robust methodologies, substantial content resources, proprietary data, and brand-oriented models. This will allow marketers to rapidly reveal insights, provide more value to customers, and generate data-driven content at scale, while avoiding poor user experience and market sameness for consumers.

Brands are advised to inject their essence and proprietary data into AI strategies. How does Terakeet assist brands in maintaining their personality and uniqueness in a crowded market?

Like I mentioned previously, we see AI as a tool for our team to use in support of our customers, not as a cure-all that ultimately just adds to market noise. That’s why our LLMs are meticulously trained on decades of proven patterns and outputs to build a differentiated use of AI, then paired with unique brand values and real-time consumer data. This helps our team create, at scale, custom, impactful digital strategies for customers that are fresh, diverse, and speak to consumer needs.

How does the balance between automation and creativity contribute to content that speaks directly to audience needs?

Consumer data should be a compass for brands’ marketing decisions. Understanding what consumers are looking for and when they’re searching should be every marketer’s goal. However, good consumer data is often discovered in a complicated deluge of disparate information. Automation can make the data less opaque and deliver insights that are more actionable. 

AI assistance’s ability to digest and translate massive amounts of data, like social media engagement, website interactions, consumer sentiment, and emerging industry trends, allows content marketers to calibrate their narratives toward consumer interests. It also bolsters disparate strategies to be as effective as possible. 

How does Terakeet guide brands in effectively prioritizing their owned assets to enhance customer connection and build brand affinity?
We believe that building trust with consumers is the best way to ensure future business growth. And we believe that the most effective way to build that trust is to provide the best answers to consumer questions, across their entire journey. 

To do this, our team uses unbiased, proprietary consumer behavior data to learn what a brand’s consumers are looking for in real time. Then, we review the ways the brand is being perceived, and how that differs from their stated goals. Using that consumer and market insight, our experts in content strategy, UX, and analytics identify consumer pain points and build content strategies that connect the brand with the right audience. This could involve updating existing owned assets or creating new ones, all customized to the specific goals, market, and brand of each client, all connected to a cohesive brand message and all optimized for visibility. This allows the brand to build long-term relationships with consumers based on trust and convert more effectively.

Are there specific areas of technological advancement or industry trends that Terakeet is particularly excited about incorporating in its future strategies?
We’re excited to continue working to optimize content for emerging channels. For example, as generative AI search continues to evolve and become a more incorporated aspect of user behavior, we’re ready, and have already begun, to use it as an effective tool for brands to reach consumers with preferred content.

In the end, what is your advice to young entrepreneurs who are trying to make their name in the technology industry?

Don’t try to do it all at once. It’s a matter of quality over quantity – spreading resources and efforts across multiple objectives often leads to diminishing returns. I’ve found, through my own trial and error, that strategic alignment around a limited set of clear, well-defined goals is most beneficial for organizational success.

Patrick Danial

CTO & Co-Founder at Terakeet

Patrick Danial is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Terakeet, the preferred owned asset optimization (OAO) partner for Fortune 500 brands seeking meaningful customer connections and online business growth. He has built, operated, and led several industry-leading technological platforms and guided Terakeet’s vision and innovation for 23 years.

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