Questions for Molecular CEO Ralph Folz

Since its 2005 acquisition by Isobar, Boston-based Molecular has sought to grow its own capabilities while finding its proper place in relation to corporate siblings. Under the direction of CEO Ralph Folz, the agency has worked with other Isobar units, such as search wunderkind iProspect and Isobar’s overseas holdings, to provide more complete solutions than it could develop solo.

ClickZ talked with Folz last week to discuss that integration process and some of the macro-trends he sees facing the industry.

Q. What’s the quick backgrounder on Molecular?

A.We are an Internet consulting firm with thirteen years in business. We’re headquartered in Boston with offices in New York and San Francisco. We became part of the Isobar Network about a year and a half ago.

Q.What’s come of the integration?

A. With our sister company iProspect, we’re doing a lot of projects which we would call search and convert. If you’re a B-to-C retailer, we’ll look at how many people are coming to the site, searching for a product and abandoning. We can now take a holistic view of all the traffic we deliver through search [and other channels]…. Being part of Isobar we can have a broader analytics.

I think there’s a nice fit between SEM and consulting; and we probably have half a dozen customers [combining them], with another half a dozen that we’ll be launching things for in the next couple months.

Q.What big trends do you see in measurement?

A. The agency world and the marketing world haven’t traditionally been so metrics-driven. Customers are demanding metrics. Culturally that’s not something that’s been done in the past.

You have to measure the right metrics. I think conversion rates are the best metric. Everyone can measure impressions, traffic, visitors and unique visitors per month, but how many of them are taking the action you want [them] to take?

Q.What other trends are you following?

A. Web 2.0 means a lot [of things] to a lot of people; one component is Rich Internet Applications. This is a very hot area. At Molecular, we believe the browser is a pretty poor interface. Think of a typical shopping experience: You go to a Web site, put something in your shopping basket, click submit, enter your address, click submit and wait, creating multiple opportunities for the user to get frustrated and leave. It’s not immersive; it’s a poor interface.

We’re working on a lot of projects right now where customers are building a better user interface on their site, driving a better customer experience.

Another trend is global [expansion of campaigns]. Molecular has a longtime client called Analog Devices. They wanted to launch a Web initiative with testing in China, U.S., and Japan. We had to quickly configure testing with local offices. This is another big differentiator for Isobar. One thing Isobar does really well is that every six months or so they’ll pull all the CEOs of its companies together and set up networking events. In the past 18 months we’ve already done projects in the U.K., Germany, China, Japan, and Australia, just to name a few.

Q.What about mobile?

A. The way we like to think about the Web is it used to be browser-based; now it’s browser, mobile and multiple devices in the home. We have something internally we call R³: (Delivering the right content to the right user at the right time). That whole concept is really popular right now. If you’re going to develop applications deliverable to multiple devices, you need to have a robust system to deliver.

We are building mobile applications for our customers that… allow consumers to interact with existing online infrastructures no matter what device they’re on and what country they are in.

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