Neustar Fueling Real-Time, Audience Buying With AdAdvisor Says Helmreich

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AdAdvisorTARGUSinfo and its AdAdvisor unit appear to have settled in as NeuStar Information Services.  The implications of last November’s acquisition of TARGUSinfo by Neustar (valued at $650 million) reach far beyond data for display ad targeting. Yet, considering Neustar’s data and some of its other units such as IP address targeter Quova, new areas of display ad opportunity may lie ahead.

In a conversation with AdExchanger, AdAdvisor vice president of business development Dave Helmreich said his group remains a “neutral provider of data and services to the display ad industry” and claims a list of 100 clients, which leverages first-party client data and AdAdvisor custom audiences.

But it's not all data and tech at Neustar as Helmreich discussed strategy, his new corporate parent and industry trends...

AdExchanger: It seems the services that you're developing go beyond traditional sales. Are you moving into the role of systems integrator, at least from a data perspective?

DAVE HELMREICH: As you remember from the interview with Neustar [CEO Lisa Hook], having the backing and assets of a $2.3 billion company with 1,500 or so employees is fantastic. Our continued focus on being a neutral third party in this space and providing solutions for audience targeting with first party data and attribution, puts us in a position where we are not only a trusted partner, but we're also asked to do a number of things that may put us in a competitive position with companies that we currently power.  I think that's the natural tension for any business.

As Neustar Information Services, we'll continue to integrate those products and services into the Neustar brand. You'll see more on this later this year, as the marketing strategy is rolled out. But our core focus remains the same – we’re a neutral third party.

We are not going to enter into the media services business. We're not going to build products and services that would cannibalize the revenue and opportunity from our existing partners. But there continues to be the opportunity to do so.

Looking industry-wide, how do you view the new opportunities developing for agencies and related service businesses?

There are probably three areas –some of which are being served today, some of which are not.

Beginning as early as 2007 and 2008, when the market started to talk about offline data, one of the biggest opportunities was around helping brands and marketers understand more about their offline data. It still holds true today, and this is something which has been core to TARGUSinfo since its inception - but now we help companies migrate their offline data online, too.

The second part of it is analytics - helping companies build better audiences from that data. Thirdly, there are a lot of assets being deployed in this space, but attribution continues to be a key focus of a number of companies in this space. What has not changed is that a majority of products are still purchased offline. So, whether it's an agency, a data-driven advertiser or an analytics company - helping those companies collectively understand more about how their online spend impacts offline transactions is a huge opportunity.

You're going to see us push into that area more publicly soon.

How have your data sets improved with Neustar's acquisition?

We recently brought our proprietary, new "mover" data to market, which enables marketers to access audiences of individuals that have moved in the past 30 days. There is a large percentage of the US population on a regular basis that has moved, and this is very important for companies that like to market to those individuals.

We continue to add audiences and assets, and over the next few months, we'll bring the following new things to market: buying power scores, asset scores, things like prepaid cell phone audiences, a number of other assets focused exclusively on fast mover consumer products goods data, retail purchase data and automotive data. In those three areas, our goal remains to be a comprehensive one-stop shop for both audiences and attribution services.

Has there been any integration between yourselves and Quova?

What we're working on right now is the right way for AdAvisor’s and Quova’s teams to work more closely together in the market. We have a number of clients in common. We hear nothing but great things about those companies working with Quova, now what they call a “Neustar audience targeting solution, ATS”. There's a long term opportunity to integrate not only just location, but certain things like business targeting, meaning if you want to target a group of individuals working within a large corporation in the United States, Quova can expose those audiences. If you want to reach students across the schools in the Southeastern Conference, they can expose those audiences. Those capabilities are unique and very powerful.

They’re entirely based on IP addresses or Internet protocol addresses, correct?

Entirely based on IP address, correct.

It would follow that there's a mobile opportunity shared between you and Quova.  True?

There's a mobile opportunity and it's on us to not only integrate those solutions in the right way, but to better describe them to the market.  There are certain things that audience targeting - whether it's cookie‑based, or IP based - is better for, and certain things that hyper‑local targeting is better for.

If we talk about the future – so… you're running hyper‑local advertising for a franchise, and you want to ensure that the people within the relevant area have a very specific offer put in front of them based on location. Are audiences being described by either a radius or proximity? In this case, there's no better way than to tie the two offerings together.

You actually can put the right offer in front of that group of people, and then if you want to measure the efficacy of that, then you actually would layer an attribution service that could actually understand in aggregate, "Is that spend increasing store sales in those footprints where those campaigns are being delivered?"

What would you say is the most popular use case right now for the way your clients are working with you today?

The most popular way is for branding campaigns – which is a big change from four and a half years ago when we spent all of our time answering audience requests for demographics. That was 80 percent of our RFP flow then. Now it's 20 percent. We spend the majority of our time in what I would call “producing” these audiences around brand affinity, which is to say, "Describe someone's likely behavior." If presented with a group of products, which product might an individual be more interested in?

Can you talk a little bit about headcount and offices, and whether you've got any international plans?

I'll answer the international question first. In our business today, our focus remains the United States. Although Neustar is a global company, and has offices all around the world, we believe and have seen that the largest opportunity still remains in the U.S. Although international is on the plan, I don't know when we're going to get to it. As far as offices, we operate still out of three primary offices: here in northern Virginia, which is the Neustar Information Services Headquarters; New York and San Francisco.

How many people are we talking about devoted to the AdAdvisor business?

Dedicated today across engineering, data science, implementation, sales, product, there are thirty‑five dedicated resources, but access to a much larger number of shared resources through Neustar.

Competition seems fierce as it relates to selling ad targeting data. How do you articulate those competitive advantages between yourselves and other data providers?

One area is access to offline data. We have recently been talking more about this in the market, but TARGUSinfo historically built a great asset that enabled us to do matching at a scale that was unparalleled, and it's frankly still unparalleled in the market today. That is part of what we call IAN - our identifiers, attributes, and network.

And, when I say network, it's the delivery network. Access to that data from hundreds of sources that update billions of times a month give us the ability to power a number of products and services that have been core to our growth.

In contrast to the traditional database marketers, we grew up as a real-time company providing answers on a query by query basis.

If you didn't build an asset like that, it's very hard to re‑engineer an entire organization and become a real-time services company when you've traditionally operated in a different fashion. That has been a big part of how we have differentiated ourselves.

The two other areas are in reach - How much third party data or first party data can you bring to bear? The other is quality/performance. We hear that our clients prefer to work with us for a number of reasons, but they often cite reach, quality and performance in particular.

Have you seen any trends with the buy side that tells you they're getting better at using data such as AdAdvisor’s?

Well, when we first started doing this five years ago, it was very easy to respond to requests for basic data. And most companies still describe their audiences using basic demographics: age, income, marital status, presence of children, and so on.

But, our challenge in the industry is still two‑fold: how do we educate and package the data so that it's easy to understand and consume.

We also need to show clients that branding campaigns do result in performance. I have to be careful when I use the word “performance” because performance doesn't connote direct response. But how do you actually show that a targeted campaign – wherever it is in the purchase funnel - produces the result that the marketers are expecting?

How has your self‑service audience segmentation tool fared?

It's been a huge differentiator for us because it ultimately pushes part of our value proposition closer to the user.

It gives clients the ability, in one place, to build very complex custom audiences and export that data in whatever way they want - either through a direct integration of the platform or by providing it to the planning team.

A lot of our partners want to understand more about how that audience performed and more than just how it's described in traditional online analytics. So we've created a capability that's called “Describe Elements,” enabling our clients to reveal the most likely behaviors according to lifestyle, life stage, demographic characteristics. And that insight gives post‑campaign insight, which gives our clients the ability to better describe what has happened to a group of responders.

How has real time bidding impacted your business?

We have seen a significant impact with real-time bidding. Most of this comes second‑hand, but as you know, real-time bidding has changed over the last four years in two general areas. One is around the cost of inventory that comes through RTB – it has increased multiple times over the past several years. Second, the percentage of inventory that is consumed via real time bidding is a direct result of data, and its availability, and the increasing value of the audiences that are consumed through RTB. There's no better medium for all that than programmatic bidding.

Looking ahead in the next 18‑24 months, what are the milestones you'd like to accomplish with your AdAdvisor team?

We've traditionally measured our success in two ways - revenue growth and profitability. I'd like to continue that trend.

I see the team growing significantly over the next couple of years. I see the opportunity for our revenue to continue growing significantly. Frankly, if you asked anyone here at Neustar, or anyone on the AdAdvisor team at Neustar, we want to continue driving, adding value, and solving problems.

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