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“People ultimately want one thing in this digital world: transparency and trust.”

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Fake and fraudulent web traffic is not only a security problem, says Daniel Avital, but it is a major business problem as well. It contaminates a variety of data used for go-to-market, user acquisition, and marketing, he explains. As chief strategy officer and global head of marketing at CHEQ, Avital is part of the team creating a new category of providing go-to-market security. He shares that people in today’s digital world desire transparency and trust the most, and CHEQ is ultimately selling trust. Their product detects invalid activity and can keep the fake traffic from getting into a company’s system, all from the lens of a go-to-marketer. While Avital helps to craft the company’s strategy, another important part of his role is to communicate the strategy and goals internally. He says every person at CHEQ has to be focused on the same goal for them to succeed.

I’m excited to talk to you about what CHEQ is doing and how you’re thinking through problems with customer acquisition and bots, fakes, and fraud.

This is a curious company among other reasons because of the intersection of the world of go-to-market—marketing, user acquisition, sales, data analytics—with cybersecurity. These are two worlds which usually are siloed away.

In the cybersecurity industry, traditionally, you are selling to a security team, and the applications you are selling as a cybersecurity company are meant to reduce risk, to secure. This is what has traditionally been thought as the main application of cybersecurity.

Then CHEQ says, “The Internet’s a bad place, and 40% of the traffic out there is bots, automation tools, hackers, and fraudsters. This is all a security problem, but it is also a business problem for anyone in the go-to-market operation, anyone doing user acquisition or paid marketing.”

Bots are going to fill your audiences and you’re going to remarket to them or they’re going to click on your ads. They’re going to flood your website and fill out forms. They’re going in your CRM, so maybe your sales team or BDRs are now chasing invalid leads, and they’re going to engage with your chat. Worst of all, strategically, they’re going to skew the data in your BI and analytics systems.

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Daniel Avital CHEQ

Daniel Avital, chief strategy officer and global head of marketing at CHEQ

(Photo: N/A)

How dominant is this today?

Imperva said 50%, 52% of traffic today is bots. I’ll give you a real data point from over 12,000 CHEQ customers that we service today. When your CHEQ customer first plugs in and sees the fake traffic in their funnels, we see an average of 27% of all direct and organic website traffic to be invalid in some way, shape, or form.

This is a much deeper problem than just spending more money on ads and raising your CAC.

That is part of it. This is a deep strategic problem. This fake traffic, it poisons everything. It poisons your data, the audience segments in your CDP, your advertising audiences, your CRM, your lead flows, your conversion funnels. I think the market is now starting to realize that we’re living in this era of the fake web, and that you have to address that. You have to have a plan to protect yourself from the fake web. That’s becoming part of the culture today.

How do you go about solving this? How do you combine cybersecurity with lead generation and marketing?

I think what we’ve done very well at CHEQ is build that security product from the go-to-marketer’s lens. When you look at that dashboard, it’s speaking your language: leads, clicks, campaign sources, traffic sources, affiliate marketers. It’s showing you metrics, information, and reporting that you care about. It integrates with your analytics or BI tools. I think that was really the big challenge, building that.

Of course, there’s the technological challenge of accuracy. If you’re being swarmed by a DDoS attack, you’re firing at will, and you’ve got to stop all the attack even if that means there’s some collateral damage. That’s not the mindset of a go-to-market leader or marketing team. They want surgical precision to not accidentally block a real paying customer. There’s a certain level of nuance and sophistication in the technology built in to make sure we’re zero percent false positives.

What have you learned about the world working with so many customers, developing this product, and owning this domain?

People ultimately want one thing, especially when it comes to the increasingly digital world in which we’re living, and it’s transparency and trust. I think that’s my greatest understanding from working with all these different people from different industries and verticals. We started this project of digital marketing, sales automation, data management, data consumption, all so that we can have a level of transparency over what we’re doing and that we can trust in the data and the numbers. Anyone who can approach people and increase their trust has a strong case to be able to sell a product. That’s what CHEQ is doing. Above everything else, we’re selling trust.

What is the product and the interface that customers use to experience that and to give that offering to others?

There is transparency baked into our platform. There’s a dashboard that pretty much shows you at a high level everything. There’s the ability to download reports to give you that more granular data. There’s an ability to plug that into your own BI environments. Literally half of what the product does beyond the blocked mitigation capabilities is transparency. That’s how our customers view us. They were saying, “We put in CHEQ and we switched the lights on.” It’s an organizational effort to make sure that we’re not just bringing the value, but that the customer understands that value.

As chief strategy and head of marketing, what does the day to day look like for you? What does strategy look like for you?

I’m fortunate because my day job is to run marketing and I get to play around in the strategy playground along with my fellow management. It’s a team effort deciding on the company’s strategy and fate, ultimately.

My best attempt at defining strategy, in a business context at least, is that you should take a clear position in the market and then apply all your resources to achieve that position. So for me, the question of strategy is what is the position we want to take in the market. We’re building a new category, go-to-market security. The idea that cybersecurity would be sold to secure go-to-market needs is novel.

Was there market education that needed to happen and is this education becoming easier organically?

Absolutely. Any time you start a new category, at the beginning people are going to be looking at you like, “I didn’t know this was a problem.” We’ve come a long way since then. I think today, most savvy go-to-market teams understand at least that there’s a problem.

But to educate, you must first define what are the boundaries of the category, what is go-to-market security. That has been our focus in saying what does it include, what doesn’t it include. Basically, we’re saying all of the digital means by which you go-to-market are something that we want to protect. I say, everything Salesforce enables, we secure. Those are the limits of the category.

How many people are in the organization now?

Today, we’re nearing 200 people. Our plan is to end the year at around 320 people.

How do you get an organization to have an army of people saying, “We believe in this vision”? How do you create that culture?

The role of chief strategy officer, as you know, is not a standard role in the C-suite. When Guy, our founder and CEO, and I were talking about this role, we said that a big part of the role is to not only have a strategy, but it is to make sure that strategy is known throughout the organization, understood, so that we’re all working towards the same north star.

You go through the 200 employees of CHEQ, you will find that they all tell you, “We’re the go-to-market security company; we’re on a mission to fight the fake web.” There’s no other way to succeed. Everyone has to be aligned towards the same goal.

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Michael MatiasMichael Matias

Michael Matias

(Photo: Courtesy)

Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University, is a Venture Partner at J-Ventures and was an engineer at Hippo Insurance. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.

Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan

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