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ShareThis Appoints A Programmatic VP

KurtAbrahamsonShareThis, the purveyor of a social share button spanning a wide swath of publisher sites and channels, on Tuesday appointed Wade Rifkin as its VP of Programmatic Partnerships. Rifkin came from agency DigitasLBI, where he was VP of Programmatic. (See the Q&A on his transition).

Rifkin’s relationships with trading desks and agencies should come in handy, particularly since ShareThis has a longstanding partnership with Publicis agency Starcom MediaVest, which augments ShareThis’ Social Quality Index metric (a measure of clicks and shares across ShareThis publisher sites) in its ad buys.

When asked what programmatic entity would immediately benefit from ShareThis’s data, Abrahamson said exchanges and supply-side platforms are all options.

“Using the data to inform ad buys and ad targeting is certainly one option, but so is figuring out how to take [some of the internal the insights] and marketing them to agencies and brands,” he said. “We haven’t committed to a specific action plan yet on the programmatic side, but Wade will help us evaluate the landscape.”

ShareThis sees consumer intent signals across a network of almost 3 million publisher sites, which is a 15-20% increase from one year ago. The company generally sees about one billion to one and a half billion sharing events per month.


Not Your Daddy’s Database Manager: KBM Group Wants To Be A Strategic Partner

william burkart kbm groupKBM Group might be the data services unit of WPP agency Wunderman, but don’t think of it as just a database manager.

“Our job is to provide strategic leadership, not simply be a database vendor when clients need one,” said William Burkart, who became KBM Group’s president and COO in late September.

So if you need someone to manage clumps of data, sure, call KBM Group, but Burkart is trying to position the division as a strategic partner, not as a database manager.

“Our clients expect us to be a leader as it relates to CRM initiatives,” he said. “They’re looking to us to provide answers and recommendations proactively. You’re familiar with the whole Lumascape world. Clients are trying to navigate that and figure it out.”

Burkart comes from Acxiom, a marketing data provider trying to shift into a major ad tech player. As VP of Acxiom’s global agency, he cut his teeth integrating email and direct mail into databases.

“My responsibility at Acxiom was in the deployment of email and direct mail to the platform as well as partnering with other email platforms,” he said. “We connected the one-to-one channel of email to the broader database, using the database intelligence to drive a relevant email or SMS communication.”

Of course, marketers today need strategies that go beyond those channels, delving into paid media across the web, mobile and social channels. A large part of Burkart’s purview will involve expanding the capabilities of Zipline, the data-management platform (DMP) it inherited via the 2010 acquisition of i-Behavior.

[KBM Group has] all of the components,” Burkart said. “We will be absolutely leveraging what we have today. It’s not a situation where we have to buy another company or make a multimillion dollar investment.”

While KBM Group declined to reveal its headcount, citing the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, it has 36 offices in 22 countries.

Burkart spoke with AdExchanger.

Acxiom Pins Its Hopes On AOS Amid Another Down Quarter

acxiomearningsIn recent quarters, Acxiom’s financial narrative has focused on its struggle to redefine itself. Whereas Acxiom was once – and still is – known as a provider of data for marketers, it’s seeking to become a neutral provider of data infrastructure via its Audience Operating System (AOS) platform and LiveRamp, the data onboarder it acquired in July.

This transformation, CEO Scott Howe has often said, requires patience. And in its Q1 in August (the company’s fiscal year ends in March), CFO Warren Jenson warned of “transition and heavy lifting” in the coming year.

The transition and heavy lifting clearly continues, with total fiscal Q2 revenue down 3% YoY to $260 million. This is mostly due to a 17% YoY decrease in Acxiom’s IT infrastructure management services division, which bagged only $56 million in Q2 revenue.

Its marketing and data services unit eked out $204 million, a 2% YoY increase.

During the earnings call, Howe insisted the plodding growth rate for this sector, much of it “governed by long-term contracts” with opportunities to upsell additional products, should be expected: “Count on low single-digit growth. Not remarkable, but inherently predictable.”

What’s In The Cards For Cardlytics? A $70M Series F Round

CardlyticsFundingThere’s a time to invest in tech and there’s a time to invest in marketing – for Cardlytics, it’s time to do the latter. 

The card-linked ad tech company, which enables advertisers to send targeted offers to consumers directly embedded into their online banking experience, announced Wednesday that it’s raised $70 million in Series F funding led by Discovery Capital.

Although some of the money will be invested in product development, a large chunk of the new cash, which brings Cardlytics’ total to a bit more than $170 million, will go towards spreading awareness about its existing product line, said president and COO Lynne Laube.

“We’re one of the biggest companies that nobody’s ever heard of,” Laube said. “People don’t believe how much data we have access to. We’re going to use this money on marketing. We can deliver our services at scale – we just need to create the awareness.”

When Cardlytics partners with a bank, it provides a piece of software that sits on the bank’s own server behind a firewall. Transaction data is fed back to the bank on a nightly basis. A separate piece of software managed centrally by Cardlytics allows advertisers to create segments by interacting with the bank’s software.

For example, an advertiser could ask: How many consumers are there in the system who have spent more than $100 in my store over the last three months? The Cardlytics software would then communicate with the bank’s software to come up with a number. From there, the advertiser could issue a command, such as: Track those high value consumers identified by the software for 30 days to see how their spending shifts.

In that way, a consumer’s personally identifiable information never leaves the safety of the bank’s environment and individual information doesn’t have the chance to leak out.


Annalect Goes For The “Golden Nugget”

Charles Butler Annalect v2A change is on the horizon for Annalect, Omnicom's analytics and marketing technology arm.

Omnicom agencies – both its media traders and its creative firms – use Annalect when they need data-driven expertise for their clients’ campaigns.

As such, Annalect has a wealth of data scientists and technologists, 250 relationships with third-party data sources and a host of technologies including the Neustar-Aggregate Knowledge DMP. Annalect also houses the trading desk Accuen as well as search and social agency Resolution Media.

But the data world is transforming, and Annalect – in order to transform with it – is in the midst of integrating its disparate tools so it can adapt to changing client needs at scale.

“We’re going more toward a platform solution,” said Annalect’s new CTO, Charles Butler, who started in late September.

Butler knows something about navigating ad stacks. He previously served as VP of technology operations at AOL Platforms and has a specific vision for Annalect’s technologies: “We’ll cut out lots of unnecessary point tools and simplify around our combination of limited commercial tools and proprietary solutions.”

Streamlining will drive Annalect’s ability to adapt to client needs at “mammoth scale." It's a necessary adjustment so it can harness rich new data sources from clients.

"The opportunities are huge … [because of] all the data that can be in play. The CRM data is the golden nugget right now," Butler explained. “When you look at the available sets of data that can come from the client, as well as what’s available in the third-party marketplace, creating an infrastructure … and a repeatable practice that’s understandable and efficient for the client is a big deal.”

He spoke with AdExchanger.

Track No More: Why Google Wants To Quench Pixel Firing On The GDN

google dmpWhat exactly is going on with Google and the providers of data-management platforms (DMPs)?

As AdWeek reported in early October, Google will begin enforcing a rule prohibiting DMPs from firing tracking pixels on ads running through the Google Display Network unless that DMP also owns the demand-side platform (DSP) buying the impression.

This rule is listed in Google’s support page for third-party ad serving and states that tracking mechanisms from certified third-party vendors may be used for certain purposes, but “[c]ollecting impression-level data via cookies or other mechanisms for purposes of subsequent re-targeting, interest category categorization, or syndication to other parties on Google Display Network inventory is prohibited.”

As it affects DMPs, a DMP-DSP hybrid, like Turn, could fire a tracking pixel without a problem. But Turn’s DMP cannot fire that tracking pixel if another vendor’s DSP makes the ad buy, since that requires the DMP send data to another party – the DSP.

This means DMPs that don’t bundle with DSPs, like Krux, Neustar, Lotame, BlueKai – really, most of the DMPs on the market today – will have blind spots on the Google Display Network. And companies like Turn will, too, since many of its clients use DSPs from other providers.

Google began notifying vendors of its decision Oct. 1, giving three months of prep time before it begins enforcing the rule, according to DMP providers affected.

Whether one characterizes Google’s decision as a change in policy (DMP providers’ point of view) or as tightening enforcement of existing regulations (Google’s point of view), certain vendors who thought they were in compliance will find by Jan. 1 that they aren’t.

Or, in the words of Krux Chief Solutions Officer Mike Moreau: “There are a lot of pixels that have been certified that will be decertified as of Jan. 1”


What Germany’s Tight-Laced Privacy Mandate Means For Ad Tech Players

hamburgGermany is leading the attack in the EU’s deepening privacy war against Google.

Late last Tuesday, a legal ruling levied by Hamburg data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar required that Google obtain Germans’ expressed permission in order to access their data, or face $1.27 million in fines.

“Our requirements aim at a fair balance between the concerns of the company and its users,” Caspar said in a statement. “The issue is up to Google now. The company must treat the data of its millions of users in a way that respects their privacy adequately while they use the various services of the company.”

This ruling furthers a trajectory that could harm the overseas advertising business of Google and all ad tech companies. Other points of concern for the international ad tech industry include a 2013 mandate, also spearheaded by Casper, preventing Google from collecting personal data from unencrypted German Wi-Fi networks on the grounds that data was collected without consent and could be used to construct advertising profiles.

And, most notably, Google came under scrutiny during the EU’s "Right to be Forgotten" ruling in May.

Others have felt the reverberations. Rumor has it that German software corporation SAP stalled its acquisition hunt to bolster its presence in ad tech because of the Right to be Forgotten ruling.

But businesses aren’t yet shying away from Germany, which is considered to be one of Europe’s most robust markets for ad tech. Those that are tempted enough to take the plunge, however, are taking a cautious yet calculated approach to their strategy there.


Can You Identify Me Now? A Deep Dive On Verizon’s Data Practices

VerizonVerizon bills itself as a triple threat. It’s got mobile, it’s got television, it’s got broadband.

And those three channels form the foundation for a deterministic data cocktail that Precision Market Insights (PMI) – Verizon’s addressable advertising division – is tapping to power Precision ID, the carrier’s answer to the ever-elusive mobile cookie.

When Verizon Wireless first rolled out Precision Market Insights back in 2012, it was to meet market demand, the group’s VP, Colson Hillier, told AdExchanger.

“People have been asking us for a long time why we weren’t doing something more in advertising because of all of our consumer relationships and touchpoints, but that hasn’t been a core business for us until this point,” said Hillier, noting Verizon’s unique positioning as “one of the world’s largest advertisers.”

But now that Verizon has started to focus on the identity question, it’s come out with guns blazing – and they’re pointed directly at mobile.

“Mobile is now the centerpiece of our customers’ lives and it’s got a lot of promise as an ad platform, but today it’s also fraught with a lot of problems,” Hillier said. “Things that have been solved in other channels don’t work well in mobile.”

Cookies top the list. While Facebook is starting to tackle identity with the relaunch of its Atlas ad server, Verizon is taking on the cookie question with a five-pronged approach: deterministic identification, measurement, cross-device targeting, more mobile inventory and privacy-compliant actionable insight.

It’s a work in progress.


Audience Partners To Buy Bering Media And Go Beyond The Cookie

helmreich apAudience Partners, which provides an advertising platform focusing on advocacy, political and healthcare verticals, reached an agreement Wednesday to acquire Bering Media for an undisclosed sum. Audience Partners expects the deal to close in October.

For Audience Partners, Bering Media – with whom it has partnered over the past two years – provides an ad-targeting solution that doesn’t require cookies.

While Audience Partners, like Bering Media, has the ability to match, sync and distribute data for its clients, it typically relied on cookies to do this. Bering Media gives the company a new methodology.

“We now have a deterministic, cookieless methodology to deploy data into mobile, video, addressable TV, display and other areas not constrained by the cookie,” said Audience Partners CEO Dave Helmreich. “Bering Media has a solution that uses double-blind, privacy-enabling, first-party attributes to be attached to IP addresses that are provisioned by [the carriers].”

Experian Builds A New Link In Data Chain

rick erwin experianExperian Marketing Services introduced a persistent identification service into its Marketing Suite product line on Wednesday. The OmniView service is designed to combine marketer-owned login identities into a single, core identifier.

It combines the company’s various linkage solutions (i.e., connecting email addresses with in-store shoppers) and also includes data cleansing and the ability to strengthen first-party data with Experian’s data sets.

But OmniView is also different from what Experian used to provide because it incorporates the ability to link digital media identifiers, said Rick Erwin, president of the company’s consumer insights and targeting division.

“Other linkage capabilities we’ve offered in the past have primarily been built for the single channel of database marketing,” he said. “We had to expand the match logic capability of the service. If this was 10 years ago, we would have been mainly interested in terrestrial address and maybe terrestrial phone number and email.”

Experian isn’t the only purveyor of offline and email data trying to boost its presence in digital channels. Its rival Epsilon bought ad tech company Conversant a little more than a week ago (to be more precise, Epsilon’s parent Alliance Data Services bought it), inheriting Conversant’s persistent identifier Common ID.

Now Experian has released its own identifier with OmniView, a development Erwin said has been a few years in the making.

“[It was] an enormous amount of work,” Erwin said. “This has to work at scale and be extremely accurate. We also had to accommodate for the fact that in digital media, the size of data files is orders of magnitude greater than in an offline marketing world. Those are two aspects that had to be rebuilt from the ground up.”