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Will The Ad Industry Share Its Data? AdFin Hopes So

altersohn adfinA Bloomberg Terminal for online media.”

We’ve heard that description from companies like Metamarkets and AdFin, but what exactly does that entail?

At the highest level, it’s a dashboard presenting a single view of inventory prices across numerous sources – a tool to enable media buyers to make better buying decisions, analogous to the famous contraption used by Wall Street traders.

While the concept seems easy, however, the execution isn’t. Beyond the technological hurdles collecting, normalizing and aggregating data from disparate sources (unlike Wall Street, there isn't a standard data format in the ad tech world), there’s also the logistical issue enlisting partners to release enough data such that the terminal can provide a broader market view.

Andrew Altersohn, who assumed the CEO position at AdFin roughly three weeks ago after Jeanne Houweling left, is facing down that latter challenge.

AdFin’s technology – which crunches and combines log files from various sources and displays the results on a dashboard – is largely ready to go, Altersohn said. It's not quite 100% yet – the company is still tinkering with its user interface and rolling out some additional features, like on-screen tips and tactics to assist the fresh-out-of-college media planners who will likely use the terminal.

Linking Data to Taste Buds: How Goya Breaks Down the Hispanic Segment

goyaThe Hispanic community is the fastest growing cohort of consumers in the United States and are prominent purchasers of CPGs.

Yet many companies view this community as a single demographic when it can be segmented into multiple smaller groups, each with distinct characteristics. But brands like the family-run Goya Foods knew this wasn’t good enough.

“We can actually segment [the Hispanic market] and give them a profile of the product mix that would be best suited for a particular store or particular geographic area,” said company SVP Joseph Perez, adding that not all Hispanics have the same lifestyle, and thus segmentation is critical for delivering relevant advertisements, coupons and products.

The company began using analytics tools from Geoscape to break down the Hispanic market with more granularity than it had in the past.

Goya had used US Census data to predict buying behavior, which quickly became outdated. The company also collected data through conducting surveys in various neighborhoods, which Perez described as “very exhausting.”

LinkedIn’s Powered-Up Media Platform Spells End To Bizo’s Standalone Data Business

DataFortressLinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner confirmed the social network wants to enable customers to prospect and nurture leads well beyond its own walled garden during the company’s Q2 call Thursday, though he stopped short of calling it an ad network.

“As big a network as LinkedIn is – and they’re adding exponential numbers of people everyday – it’s still one environment,” said Kevin Flint, associate media director at Just Media, a media and marketing services agency that works with a number of B2B tech clients. “Whereas…there are so many places they can potentially reach their audience or distribute content…beyond LinkedIn. That’s where the growth will be the greatest.”

LinkedIn’s acquisition of B2B marketing services and data company Bizo is intended to ensure long-term monetization via media revenue. As part of this initiative, LinkedIn will end Bizo’s à la carte data business.

The Off-Linked In Opportunity

LinkedIn’s specialty, industry insiders say, is its premium business audience of 300-plus million members. Bizo brings real-time bidding and display chops, as well as a business demographic data on some 120 million professionals.

“I like the analogy of Yahoo and Right Media because LinkedIn was more focused on the supply side and inventory, whereas Bizo was good at the B2B marketing part and programmatic advertising,” said Mattijs Keij, CEO of Dutch data-management platform provider FlxOne. “There is a limit to the reach you can get on their platform and that’s where Bizo comes in. [Bizo] can open up that reach powered by all the data on LinkedIn. I think there is actually a lot of value in the long-tail if they can reach the right audience with it through their B2B network.”


Why LinkedIn Could Be The De Facto B2B Data Platform

LinkedInEndorseProfessional social networking platform LinkedIn seemed to commit to programmatic, particularly among the B2B community, when it acquired business data company Bizo for an estimated $175 million Tuesday.

LinkedIn “has a bet on CRM and their investment in Bizo shows they really want to double down on B2B marketers,” said Ray Wang, chairman and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Bizo brings a vast, pixel-based media exchange and anonymous demographic data on some 120 million-business professionals. This extends LinkedIn’s offsite reach and bolsters the quality of its in-market data.

“We’ve been pushing LinkedIn for a number of our clients like Lenovo and Red Hat and a number of clients have asked for this type of interaction,” said Bob Ray, president, Americas for B2B media-buying and planning agency DWA. “I think they offer up the argument to their user base that they’re still very focused on privacy, but at the same time with Bizo, they’ll offer to marketers a way to connect the dots” through new tools and services.

What’s unique about LinkedIn’s new value proposition, Ray said, is the ability to fold marketing automation systems such as Eloqua or Marketo in with LinkedIn’s own properties.


BlueKai’s Tawakol Spearheads Oracle Data Cloud Effort

OmarTWhen Oracle acquired data technology and services company BlueKai in February, the product roadmap seemed to split. Down one avenue, BlueKai’s data-management platform (DMP) would plug a hole in the company’s Oracle Marketing Cloud stack. The second avenue circles BlueKai’s vaunted data exchange, Audience Data Marketplace.

Marketing Cloud SVP and GM Kevin Akeroyd was the immediate beneficiary of the DMP, which is being integrated with the other technologies in the stack including email marketing from Eloqua, campaign management from Responsys and content marketing from Compendium.

But Oracle’s head honcho, cofounder and CEO Larry Ellison also wanted to know what would become of the data exchange.

“At the time the acquisition happened, it was originally driven by Oracle Marketing Cloud pulling the BlueKai DMP into the stack,” said Omar Tawakol, BlueKai’s CEO and now GM of the Oracle Data Cloud. The data marketplace, Tawakol and his colleagues realized, “could add a third leg to the stool.”

If Oracle’s first leg is software and its second leg is hardware, then its third leg is Data-as-a-Service, hooking the BlueKai data exchange into enterprise use cases beyond marketing, like sales and commerce. As GM of Oracle Data Cloud, Tawakol is leading the centralization of some of Oracle’s social marketing acquisitions (such as Collective Intellect), BlueKai’s Audience Data Marketplace and data as a service for “groups that were natively built within Oracle for data-as-a-service, such as sales and talent management,” Tawakol said.


Adform Forms A Value-Add: A New DMP

adformDanish ad tech provider Adform has released a first-generation data-management platform (DMP) through which its clients can monetize their data and increase yield.

“There are a lot of publishers out there that want to monetize their data,” said Adform CMO Martin Stockfleth Larsen. “They’ve sold out inventorywise, but the one area that hasn't sold out is data. It’s a natural extension to our existing platform.”

Adform’s DMP, available to its clients at no extra charge, is part of a stack that includes a rich media offering, tagging, reporting and a demand-side platform (DSP).

The DMP space is frenetic with activity, and ad tech providers that don’t have one are either quick to acquire (see: Oracle and BlueKai) or build (see: Xaxis). Adform, according to Larsen, took six months to build out its platform – and it didn’t cost nearly the $25 million that Xaxis’ new Turbine did.


[X+1] Enhancement Keys In On Offline-Online Connections

nardone-xplus1[X+1] has added a new component to its data-management platform (DMP) called Origin KeyChain to expand its offline targeting capabilities.

“Prior to KeyChain, we could do offline targeting for our customers, but only for their customer IDs and not for prospects,” said CEO John Nardone.

Here’s how it works. Generally speaking, DMPs gather user information from a bunch of sources (online cookies, CRM systems, etc.). As Nardone explained it, the platform wraps all of this data around a persistent identifier, called a key. The specific nature of that key differs from DMP to DMP, but in many cases, it’s an online cookie.

Imagine a magnet (representing the persistent identifier) with a bunch of objects like paperclips or thumbtacks (representing additional pieces of user information) stuck to it.

However, many third-party data providers have their own unique keys. So a marketer working with [x+1] as well as other third-party data providers would have to manage numerous persistent identifiers, many of which are incompatible. In other words, clients are stuck with massive data silos.


Aerospike Open Sources Its Database, Raises $20M In Funding


Aerospike, the database solutions provider whose technology has powered AppNexus, BlueKai and eXelate, will open source its technology. The company also revealed Tuesday that it raised $20 million in Series C funding, which Aerospike will use to help finance the open source process and develop tools that will help clients scale their applications.

“We are open sourcing our technology so that enterprises across the board can have access to our technology,” said Aerospike CMO Monica Pal. “I actually believe that what the ad tech ecosystem has done formed the foundation for how all enterprises have to reach their customers across the Internet.” Open sourcing its technology potentially strengthens Aerospike’s value proposition over the in-house databases fielded by Facebook, Amazon and Google.

“[Aerospike’s technology is] the underlying repository that clients use to store all their user level information,” explained Elad Efraim, eXelate CTO. "Imagine a scenario surrounding real time modeling. What the client would need is an algorithm that they can use to store users, and a means to look into the attributes that qualify that user into specific targeting segments.”


Xaxis DMP Turbine Spins To Life

Lesser XaxisYet another data-management platform (DMP) has hit the market, at least for clients of Xaxis, WPP’s trading desk. The DMP, called Turbine, is the fruits of a $25 million investment.

“The strategy we designed with Xaxis was to develop the pieces of the ad tech stack that gave the most competitive advantage to our clients,” said Xaxis CEO Brian Lesser. “That’s the DMP without a doubt. That’s not to say other pieces of the ad tech stack aren’t important, because they are, but data is where you get leverage.”

Prior to Turbine, Xaxis used 24/7 Media’s Zeus, a “first-iteration” DMP (WPP acquired 24/7 in 2007 and merged it with Xaxis in December) built with IBM’s data products subsidiary, Netezza. Lesser said Zeus “is still an important part of our business” – Xaxis continues to use Zeus for analytics, but not to build segments for targeting, which is now Turbine’s purview.

Consequently, Turbine’s value proposition revolves around its ability to build audience segments quickly, and to make immediate alterations to those segments as necessary. The advent of large, unstructured data sets (or big data, to use the buzzword), made the upgrade necessary.

“We looked at the problem of disparate data and increasing amounts of data sources and said we needed a different kind of solution,” Lesser said.


Facebook Lets Competing Advertisers Target Off Each Other's Site And App Data

fb-like-dataOne of Facebook's hidden assets is the waterfall of data signals it gets from other websites and apps.

These signals wend their way to Facebook from social plugins, conversion pixels and retargeting cookies embedded on millions of websites and mobile apps. Facebook's code snippets tell the social network whenever a user lands on a product page, reads an article or researches a travel package. It has been collecting such data for years, but has never activated it for ad-targeting purposes.

Until now.

Facebook will soon begin using data signals gathered from its publisher integrations to inform ad messaging, creating profiles based on a far more complete universe of potentially interested buyers than it has ever made available to advertisers before. In making the announcement, Facebook also said it will offer more robust user privacy controls, including opting out of this new stream of intent data.

This could get awkward fast, since Facebook will effectively be selling data from one advertiser to its competitors – perhaps generating targeted fashion ads from Target based in part on a person's interest in swimwear gathered from a visit to

"Advertisers may now potentially be suppliers of 'signal' for their competitors to buy ads against," is how Rob Leathern, former CEO at Facebook PMD Optimal Inc., put it.