Josh Rosen Podcast Transcript

Headshot of President Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen Podcast Transcript

Josh Rosen joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of The Digital Executive Podcast.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Josh Rosen. Josh Rosen is the President of Hotspex Media and Co-Founder of Reticle AI. He leads a team at Hotspex Media, focusing on ad operations, revenue operations, product, and customer success.

With a keen eye for industry trends, he drives continuous revenue growth and enhances client satisfaction. His passion for advertising improvement led to creating Reticle AI, a self-serve tool for media planning. Under Josh’s guidance, Hotspex Media gained recognition as a top growth company and was named to AdAge Best Places to Work in 2023.

Reticle AI received industry acclaim, labeled a Best By Side Innovation by The Drum. Josh’s achievements go beyond business with a nomination as an EY Entrepreneur of the Year and inclusion in AdAge’s Top 40. Despite professional success, he considers his family his greatest success. The dynamic leader continues to shape the industry with innovation and strategic prowess.

Well, good afternoon, Josh. Welcome to the show!

Josh Rosen: Thank you for having me excited to be here.

Brian Thomas: Absolutely love these things. Again, the audience is probably tired of me saying it, but really. Gets me out of bed every morning, doing an amazing conversation with somebody from around the world. And today, Josh, you’re hailing out of the great country of Canada there in Toronto.

And I really do appreciate you making the time. So, Josh, jumping into the questions, let’s talk about your first question here. Could you describe the journey and inspiration behind reticle AI, and how it aims to revolutionize programmatic advertising through emotional alignment?

Josh Rosen: Yeah, absolutely. We’re, we’re jumping in with the, with the hard ones, no softballs to kick it off here.

I like it. So, what reticle really is, is the execution of a merger that happened six years ago now between my original company, which was called the wave digital media. And hot specs, which is a global insights and analytics firm. So, you and your audience are probably asking the question, what does a insights and analytics firm want with a programmatic trading desk?

And that’s a great question. What we saw was an opportunity for the bridge to be built between insights that deep, rich nuance and understanding of an audience and the skill ability and ability to really hone in on that audience. At scale through various digital omnichannel platforms that programmatic provided.

So, reticle sits at that intersection, builds that bridge between the two. And its intent is to really focus on the emotional aspect and look at how ad buys occur through the emotional lens. As we know, most of us buy products, whether we believe it or not, based on an emotional attachment or feeling that we have about a particular brand.

And that was an area of programmatic that was really not being explored. And a big part of that was based on the fact that we had so much rich cookie data. So, kind of unbeknownst to us and serendipitously, we went down this path simply because we believed in it and thought it was something that was really dynamic and that the programmatic world needed.

And then the world of cookies started to shift. Right beneath us. And we were like, this is perfect. We are exceptionally well primed to meet the market need for cookie lists, advertising products that is also leveraging AI and really honing in on a unique lens for addressing the desired audience.

Brian Thomas: Very cool. Love that. And of course, you know, when you can leverage things you know, that that information, right? Cookies are a great example. But I like how you can take that and look at again that emotional alignment, which I really love. I’ve done many purchases based on emotions and Sometimes they were great.

Sometimes they are not so great, but that’s, I totally get that, but I appreciate the story behind that. And Josh, can you share a pivotal moment or interaction in your career that unexpectedly opened new doors and how it demonstrates the power of networking?

Josh Rosen: Yeah. So that goes back many, many years where I interviewed for an internship with the CEO and co-founder of hot specs insights and analytics.

His name is Shane skillet. Fast forward. So I interviewed for that internship, and he said, “This is not the career for you. You will not find success here. You will not be happy here.” And he then put me on a path to really explore other opportunities within the advertising community within large agencies here in Canada.

And fast forward. We connected on LinkedIn. I think Facebook actually back then and fast forward almost 14 years. And I’m in a boardroom where he’s negotiating with me to purchase my company.

Brian Thomas: Got to love the power of networking. I think we all have at least one story, if not several, about networking and how things happened.

Same here. I can tell you some, some great couple of great stories of how networking led to an opportunity and then a couple of promotions at a, at a company. So, love that story really, really do. And I think it resonates with everybody here. And Josh, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Well, integrating emotional AI into advertising, and how have you overcome them?

Josh Rosen: I don’t think I would say we’ve overcome anything. I think when you build. Technology, the product that you’re releasing to market is immediately antiquated and needs to be innovated or needs to have an iteration of.

So, I think we, we are constantly trying to bring the best product to bear that we can. We’re always looking inward where we can make improvements. And part of that. You know, relentless pursuit of building the latest and greatest was how we even brought radical AI to market in the first place. We had a version of what we thought would be an appropriate mechanism for buyers to purchase.

And through that market feedback, we realized that it wasn’t that we needed to go back to the drawing board, and we need to completely overhaul and revise how we were able to deliver our data set. And that just started a 3-year process that is continuously ongoing. So, I would say you’re always going to have those challenges.

But where you can find some allyship with some really trusted partners, leverage them and make sure that you’re looking at the entire ecosystem of how you’re delivering your product to market because everyone’s going to provide a unique perspective and how they use it and how they touch it. Thank you.

Brian Thomas: I appreciate that. And again, challenges are going to be ever present as, as you explained. It’s not something that’s going to ever go away, but I do like. Again, some of your insights, some of the things that do you leverage to overcome some of those, including obviously having some great partners. So Josh, last question of the day, how do you foresee the role of AI and other emerging technologies shaping the future of networking and advertising?

Josh Rosen: I think first and foremost, from a networking perspective, it’s personally for me, it’s creating a little bit sense of Of like guardianship is maybe the word that I would use where I’m a little bit more protective of who I’m connecting with and what I’m, what I’m sharing back from outreach that I don’t know exactly who it is and where it’s coming from, because I don’t know if that’s the human on the other end, or if it’s a bot sent out to collect some data points from me to then use against me somewhere else.

So, there’s a little bit of, you know, being guarded around how I’m interacting with it. And I think wherever possible, as human beings, we should try and not leverage AI to do our work. We should really hone in and lean in on, on that human element to us. To develop meaningful relationships from an advertising perspective.

I mean, it’s all it’s, it’s, it’s been here, it’s been here for, for nearly a decade, it continues to grow and expand. I think it’s a very unique opportunity that we have in front of us right now. I equate it to the olden days of advertising. When, you know, copywriters got a typewriter and they were able to write many, many more lines of copy or longer scripts, better scripts, um, when desktop publishing entered the art direction you know, space, how that changed.

This is just another iteration of that for us, we can do more, we can have more dynamic, creative optimization, we can create more. More ads, more variances. We have greater computing power to look at how headline a performed against headline C, you know, with placement L. And it’s just a matter of speed and capability that we don’t, we don’t have the ability to do it as human beings, but it still requires that human input to drive it.

It still needs a person behind the wheel. Maneuvering it and and giving it the direction to achieve the outcomes that we know to be true. So I think it’s going to continue to grow. I don’t think anybody really has the answer to this. If they do, I would love to love to talk with them. And if I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.

But I think it’s, it’s going to enable us to do a little bit faster, a lot more, but I don’t know if better yet.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. I do appreciate that. You know, at the end of the day, and we’ve talked about this for the last couple of years anyway about AI and its role, and it really needs to augment obviously the human, but also do some of the repetitive and mundane tasks. As we know, chat GPT is slowly taking that away, but, but you’re right at the end of the day, we need that human-to-human interaction and we need to break out of this COVID B.S. as I call it, because COVID has really changed how we operate and we were losing that, that human touch.

So, I appreciate your insights on that. I really, really do. And Josh, it was such a pleasure having you on today. And I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Josh Rosen: Oh, thanks for having me. We can do a whole another half hour on coming out of COVID and that nonsense.

Brian Thomas: Absolutely. Bye for now.

Josh Rosen Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.


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