MyThings Offering Personalized Retargeting Optimized For Conversions Not Clicks Says CEO Arbel

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MyThingsBenny Arbel is CEO and founder of MyThings, a B2B personalized retargeting company.

AdExchanger.com: Please share how MyThings has pivoted since it was established in 2005 and arrived at a personalized retargeting business model? What have you learned?

BA: The change has been more of an evolution than a revolution.

When founded, myThings provided behavioral database services to consumers, based on their interactions with online retail websites. Our original business model was B2B2C. We later identified a greater business opportunity in harnessing merchant's behavioral consumer data for optimizing their campaigns and arrived at our current B2B personalized retargeting business model.

Having worked directly with online retailers and consumers for a number of years on product information, facilitating countless purchases, myThings has accumulated insights into the ways in which content affects people differently at different points in the purchase funnel. Those insights lay the foundation for our current prospect valuation (RTB based) and recommendation engines. To support our new business model, we have added media operations and have adapted our recommendation engine for creative optimization. Naturally, business relationships that were established with leading online global retailers were leveraged and cemented.

What is the target market for Mythings today?

myThings' target market today is Europe, providing personalized retargeting services for both European and American advertisers.

While European market offers a great opportunity for online retailers, its fragmented nature and local variance poses great challenges for both advertisers and media companies. myThings provides a multi-national, multi-lingual personalized retargeting solution.  We offer a single point of contact for advertisers that wish to roll out personalized retargeting  campaigns across Europe, either directly or via our partners.

On the media side, We are working with all leading ad exchanges (with seats in Google's double click and RTB, as well as Yahoo!'s RMX) and have established partnerships with top publishers (such as Yahoo! and MSN, for example), top pan-European affiliate networks (zanox, affilinet and TradeDoubler) as well as smaller local publishers. These media partnerships enable us to reach over 80% of European traffic. On the operational side, we have presence in UK, France, Germany, Italy Spain and the Netherlands and our creative adaptation engines can support personalization in multiple languages.

Our focus is mainly on the consumer goods, travel, retail and telecom verticals that show strong performancefor personalized retargeting (data rich verticals that typically feature large inventories) and account for over 40% of Display ad spend in Europe (according to IAB's 2010H1 ad spend survey).

How does MyThings differentiate from other retargeters in the space such as Criteo, TellApart, Fetchback and others?

The main differentiator between myThings and other providers of personalized retargeting is in our push for a CPA business model.

The Internet was founded as a marketing vehicle on the basis of the ability to be the vehicle which finally provided accountability. Thanks to online marketing, if John Wanamaker were alive today, he’d know exactly which half of his advertising was wasted. Despite the accountability of the Internet, too many companies are insisting on working on a Cost-Per Click basis.

At myThings, we want to put our money where our mouth is, and work with our retailing partners on a CPA basis. That way, if we succeed, they also succeed. Isn’t that how a partnership should work? Furthermore, when considering all of the issues which surfaced around retargeting and user experience this summer. If the digital editor of Advertising Age magazine is bothered by personalized retargeting, imagine what the average person on the street thinks? And that’s why our CPA business model and optimization is so important. Our ads are optimized for conversions, not clicks. A company whose business model is based on click has a financial interest in generating as many clicks as possible. Not myThings.

Another area where myThings is differentiated from our competitors is in our innovative licensed personalised retargeting offering, which is bringing personalised retargeting to the affiliate marketing domain. In myThings' partner affiliate networks, merchants now enjoy personalised retargeting services in their existing affiliate program, enabling them to seamlessly manage their entire performance programs using a single point of contact. Affiliates, so far excluded from personalised retargeting campaigns due to the direct relationships that have prevailed between advertisers and personalised retargeting providers, are invited to implement myThings' solution for affiliates and enjoy increase in revenues due to the significany higher CTRs and conversion rates that are typical for personalised retargeting campaigns

When do view-through conversions work - and when don't they?

There is a substantial body of work supporting the impact of display ad exposure on conversions. A comScore study conducted this year in the UK and Europe, has found that visitation to the advertiser’s web site rose by 72% on average post exposure and likelihood of consumers conducting a trademark search query using the advertiser’s branded terms increased by 94% on average (similar results were found in the original study conducted in the U.S)

Not all views are created equal. Relevancy for user and fit of offering to phase in purchase cycle significantly increase the view through impact. In another study by comScore, retargeting generated over 1000% uplift in brand related searches and 726% uplift in website visitations, within four weeks after exposure.

Obviously Viewthroughs's impact declines in time and retargeting attribution models usually factor that fact. We support True Post View (TPV) which guarantees that our impressions are always visible (above the fold) for a minimum of 3 seconds.

What's your expectation regarding the retargeting industry as a whole? How big does it get?

I don’t want to put a dollar figure on the market, but judging from the return conversion rates we’re seeing – up to 700% – and considering that company’s like Google and Microsoft have joined the fray, I believe that retargeting will be a large segment of the online advertising industry, perhaps the largest segment of behavioral targeting segment.

How do you manage consumer privacy requirements and keeping "the creepy" out of retargeting?

As I said above, as a company who is offering a CPA based retargeting service, we are motivated to optimize conversions and not clicks. We therefore take every measure to provide consumers with a positive interaction with our ads in order to encourage the eventual sale. It would simply not make any sense for us to "spam" or over expose consumers in order to tempt them click – unhappy users don't make revenues for anyone.

This is why we have established our "Frequency, Recency and Decency" policy, setting strict frequency capping, cookie lifespan and media control standards to ensure the highest user and brand care in the industry.

In addition, myThings is adhering to the strictest privacy and data protection laws and recommendations. we do not store any data on our servers. All the (non PI) data is stored on the end-user cookie and is used for real time personalization only. Consumers are informed about how our retargeting service works and how they may opt-out of that service (via our disclosure icon on our banners, on myThings website, and on Advertiser’s website, for advertisers who so choose).

Opt-out options include: opt-out feature on banners (using the "I" icon), deletion of cookies from consumer browsers, as well as setting their browsers to notify them when a cookie is stored or by accepting a myThings opt-out cookie by following this link.

What roles do demand-side platform buying and exchanges play in your business? Do you have a DSP?

We provide a combined service of creative and media optimization. Like an ad network, we interface with ad exchanges and DSPs to enrich our optimizations. We do not sell advertiser's data to others, we only use it to optimise the advertiser's campaigns

The ad unit, or creative, can often have the biggest impact on performance. How do you mesh the MyThings personalized ad tech and the client's creative requirements?

We believe that personalized campaigns are yet another touch point of the brand with its potential and existing customers and therefore should reflect the brand's language and style and tone. myThings invests significant time and effort in adapting and creating personalized banner templates that fit each brand's needs. While our personalization engine determines the optimal product "pool" to be displayed on each banner and the recommended media parameters (frequency and recency, subject to our capping policy), our adaptive banner technology enables advertisers to further enhance personalized retargeting campaigns by testing countless graphic themes, slogans and calls to action – all in line with the brand's theme and guidelines, to maximize campaign performance

You just closed a $6 million round led by Deutsche Telecom’s T-Venture. What will you do with the funding?

The new round of funding will be used to grow our sales and marketing operations in Europe and Asia. We expect to open new offices and expand existing ones in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Benelux, and soon will announce new offices in Asia.

Beyond this, Deutsche Telecom’s owning InteractiveMedia, the leading quality marketer of digital media in Germany with the greatest reach, adds great strategic value to this investment in addition to the funding.

A year from now, what milestones would you like to have seen MyThings accomplish?

The main milestones we’re always focusing on are the ROI for our customers and the volume of transactions we generate for them. I’d like us to continue to improve our performance in these areas and launch our white-label licensing product with additional media companies and networks.

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