Beacon Platform Shopkick Enters Third Phase With Ex-Turn CEO Demas As Top Exec

A week after adding video to its in-store rewards program, and a year-and-a-half since being acquired by South Korea's SK Planet, Demas faces a number of challenges in succeeding Shopkick founder Cyriac Roeding as CEO.

Beacon-based rewards provider Shopkick has named Bill Demas as CEO as the company faces an increasingly crowded proximity marketing landscape.

While Demas, who ran programmatic and data platform Turn from 2009 to 2015, left his former company during a period of turmoil. Despite the rising competition and the demand for differentiation, Shopkick has a number of things in its favor as Demas takes over the CEO post from founder Cyriac Roeding and interim head Mike Lunsford, both of whom will remain on the six-year-old Redwood City, CA-based company’s board.

While Shopkick has been a pioneer in the location marketing space, having adopted the use of Bluetooth devices right as Apple previewed its iBeacon system in mid-2013. Up until the availability of iBeacon, Shopkick’s method of connecting retailers’ marketing messages to customers’ smartphones while in a store was solely built on sending signals via ultrasound waves that can be picked up a device’s built-in-microphone.

Thanks to that early move toward beacons, it was able to attract business from brands such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Kraft, and Pepsi; the company also netted key deals with over two dozen retail partners, including Macy’s, Best Buy, American Eagle, and JCPenney.

But the company’s biggest endorsement came in the form of South Korea’s mobile geo-marketplace operator SK Planet’s decision to acquire Shopkick for $200 million in the fall of 2014.

SK Planet has hoped to use Shopkick to promote its global expansion generally and its presence in the US market against the likes of Verizon. And while SK Planet’s global resources are a significant foundation to build on, the company still faces tense battles both from rival telcos and the individual beacon platforms as well.

Last fall, Shopkick, projected that its “kicks” would help produce $800 million to $1 billion in sales for its retail and brand partners in 2015 — up from $1 billion in the previous four years combined. In all, Shopkick has said it’s guided over 90 million store visits and 140 million direct product engagements from users scanning its products from among the aisles at stores.

With the addition of its video function, Shopkick is betting on driving more engagement with brands way before those consumers enter a store. Plus, the tools broaden Shopkick’s arsenal beyond beacon-triggered deals.

Demas’ background at Turn indicates a comfort with the buy side of the ad business. And his previous executive positions at Yahoo through its acquisition of search marketer Overture, suggests familiarity the issues of “discovery” that now animate so much of what drives proximity marketing, his lack of dedicated mobile experience which is so much a part of Shopkick’s DNA doesn’t seem to be an issue for board members who selected him.

As a Shopkick representative noted, the hire comes as Shopkick’s app customer base has tripled since the SK Planet deal to 23 million active monthly consumers who use its “kicks,” or rewards, to access in-store deals.

“The Board of Directors searched for over six months to find the right person to lead Shopkick through the transition from start-up to household name,” said  Lunsford in statement. “Bill brings years of experience building high performance teams, developing go-to-market product strategies and growing company valuations from single-to-triple digit ‘millions.’ We couldn’t be more confident in his ability to take Shopkick to the next level and position the company for success in the years to come.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.