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In this week’s episode, Stewart and Travis interview John Rampton, entrepreneur and author, on a range of marketing-focused topics, about which he states that we’re now in a “pay-to-play world.” What does that mean, and where do we go next? John helps us understand what the future holds.

In the news, we reveal details of three — yes three — brand new AI or machine learning-powered marketing technologies. In customer service, social media, and the fascinating field of narrative analysis, these cognitive computing technologies are taking over, and we try to work out what that means for the future.


  • Welcome to VB Engage episode 47! [0:10]
  • This week, we have John Rampton, and next week we’ll talk to Everette Taylor Jr! [01:10]
  • Here’s a new marketing tool, Kylie, that uses AI to help brands automate answers to customer service requests. [02:15]
  • Travis has been working with an outsourcing company in the Philippines and has been monitoring alerts on call center news, most of which are about downsizing, firing, or closing of call centers. [03:00]
  • People are less likely to call into call centers and wait in queues and more liable to chat, text, or tweet businesses. [03:45]
  • Hopefully, AI and machine learning won’t kill the customer support industry. [04:20]
  • The temptation to reduce costs is too much for some companies. [05:15]
  • Kylie’s AI will work across a variety of channels, including email, SMS, Twitter, and chat, and it does Pepsi commercials. [06:10]
  • Sysomos launches its new AI-powered social marketing platform. [07:00]
  • Sysomos’ new platform unifies the company’s tools for search, discovery, listening, publishing, engagement, and analysis with AI at the heart. [07:30]
  • Think of this as a “social cloud.” [08:05]
  • Sysomos can help you find affinities within your audience, and it uses this intelligence to deliver actionable insights. [08:25]
  • Travis has been blown away by the social data aggregation platforms out there, like Affinio, which allows you to do deep persona and affinity analysis for any audience. [09:15]
  • Protagonist Platform launches to uncover customer narratives using machine learning. [11:05]
  • Protagonist Platform claims to be the first software platform specifically designed to analyze complex, cross-platform datasets to reveal the underlying beliefs and motivations of consumers. [11:50]
  • This includes narrative analysis and strategy, narrative subscription, and narrative playbook. [12:15]
  • There’s a similar company, called Stackla, that is able to do analysis on user-generated content and tap that content for display or use in relevant and targeted advertising. [12:45]
  • “It’s impossible for a human to read every article, Twitter feed, Facebook post, or Reddit post of interest in order to understand what customers believe; Protagonist can do that.” [14:15]
  • These marketing technologies can help with your data science. [15:55]
  • Welcome John Rampton, author, entrepreneur, journalist, and CEO of Due.com! [16:25]
  • According to research, organic messages see engagement less than 1% of the time. That’s woeful. [17:45]
  • We live in a pay-to-play world. [18:05]
  • It’s 1% organic, and that’s why influencer marketing is becoming more important. [18:45]
  • According to Beckon and TrackMaven reports, less than 5% of your content gets 90+% of the engagement.
  • What is the process that John uses to help him create great content? [20:30]
  • John spends 50% of his time on articles, writing the content, and 50% of his time on the promotion of the content. And of the time he spends creating the content, the majority is devoted to the headline. [20:55]
  • BuzzSumo and Google Trends allow writers to identify trending headlines. [22:00]
  • You need a great headline, and the content of the article needs to be solid. [23:10]
  • A large percentage of people will share an article without even reading it, based on the headline alone. [23:45]
  • People love personal narratives and compelling stories.  Not just your successes, they love to read about your failures, as well. [24:30]
  • What advice would you give other entrepreneurs out there who want to gain traction? [26:00]
  • One of the keys to John’s success has been the proliferation of content. [26:30]
  • Instead of his business getting mentioned on a site once a year, he decided to write his insights on various publications weekly. [27:10]
  • This is how VB Engage started: Travis stalked Stewart incessantly until he finally relented. Stewart has regretted this ever since. [28:00]
  • Stewart is the Denzel Washington of Marketing Technology, after all. [28:30]
  • Put out great content that is relevant to your potential customers and solves your prospect’s problems. [29:25]
  • By 2020, there will be 6.1 billion smartphones worldwide, compared to 2.2 billion in 2015. [30:25]

In next week’s episode, we chat with Everette Taylor, an entrepreneur and growth marketer at Skurt. Taylor has done some amazing things, all before the age 28.  He was homeless 10 years ago and went on an epic journey that he shares with us next week.


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If you missed last week’s episode VB 046, Travis and Stewart interviewed Spencer Liu, CEO of KTPlay, about the importance of community, how to build one in a smartphone-driven world, and how mobile games can benefit from bringing fans together.

As always, thanks for tuning in. Stewart loves it when you subscribe, rate, and review VB Engage on your favorite podcast platform. Travis is apathetic to your advances.


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