The Cross-Device Question: Neustar Aggregate Knowledge

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AKCorrection 4/11: This article initially wrote Neustar reports to a Congressional committee. A company spokesperson said Neustar does not have a government contract and they are not audited by Congress. They have a telecom industry contract that is overseen by the FCC.

David Jakubowski came on board Neustar as SVP of marketing services after it acquired Aggregate Knowledge, where he was CEO. With the acquisition, Neustar inherited a data-management platform (DMP).

This is the fifth in AdExchanger’s series on the cross-device question, in which we examine what each DMP can provide in terms of connecting the identities or profiles of consumers across the digital, mobile and offline ecosystem.

In February, AdExchanger spoke with executives from Acxiom, Turn, [x+1] and BlueKai.

In the coming days, we’ll publish interviews with executives from Lotame, Adobe and Krux.

In the meantime, Neustar’s Jakubowski spoke about what his company’s DMP enables its clients to accomplish.

AdExchanger: What do your clients want when it comes to managing cross-device connections?

DAVID JABUKOWSKI: We’ve been doing digital across devices for a while now so [clients] want to know how they can begin bridging the gap between offline and online. That’s more of the focus of the questions we get. The second question is how do we help them manage PII and non-PII worlds?

All of our customers tend to be big enterprise-type installations so they have robust CRM management. We do feedback loops to content management systems so their websites can be dynamically updated, because they now want to use their CRM systems to [retarget] high-value customers. “I’ve already sold them triple-play; I want to add Showtime and HBO.”

All of our customers want to manage that in a compliant way. How do they do that so they don’t offend customers and end up on the front page of The New York Times? That’s the big trend: It’s not just connecting, but doing it in a non-creepy way.

What does Neustar offer?

Neustar was set up 20 years ago to mange this identity for the telecommunication ecosystem [Ed: Neustar’s legacy tech was designed to route calls and texts across North America]. Where [clients] have PII and a customer relationship, we’ll help them onboard that [data] and market to that person. On the PII side, we can help [clients] update their CRM record. If they don’t [have a CRM record], you can only do lookalike out of a cookie pool or a mobile identity footprint. [Clients] need to do those as one-off  things inside of individual publishers.

What are the PII concerns in mobile devices?

We don’t do fingerprinting. That’s the first thing. We tend to work directly with the mobile players themselves. We have an ad certification where we work directly with Facebook and their methodology for CRM onboarding. We work with Twitter, within their framework. We won’t do the fingerprinting and we work with the bigger players on that so CRM onboarding is much more straightforward. That’s a record shared between two people.

What entails fingerprinting?

You can look at things like fonts, headers, plug-ins, [which] in combination are fairly unique. That’s why people call it the fingerprint. You can look at it and say, "Yup that’s the same person."

Are your customers OK with Neustar declining to do this?

Most of our customers are fairly comfortable with that, and with the granularity of breaking out high-quality cookies and low-quality cookies, they can accomplish exactly what they want without having to move to something that isn’t a clear opt-in, opt-out scenario.

How does that distinction between high-quality and low-quality cookies work?

There’s a number of ways you can look at a cookie and say it’s a high quality vs. low quality. One is have you ever seen it before? If you have seen it before, the chance that you’ll see it again and that it’s a stable person goes up exponentially.

The reputation of the IP address is another good indicator. We’re one of the world’s foremost IP address companies. Presence of data on that cookie is another indicator. There are things that give you grades of quality.

We roll that up and say, “Here’s a group of people, how many times are you likely to see them again so you can do media planning off of it without having to fingerprint the user?”

How does that work in a mobile environment?

In mobile browsers it works pretty well. In non-logged-in devices and apps, it doesn’t work as well. It’s fuzzier so we roll them up into the audience segments. It’s not supposed to be as accurate. That user has indicated they don’t want to be marketed to in that way. And we respect that.

How do you determine accuracy?

You run it against known truths from logged-in users. We have these sets across partners.

Is that a new strategy?

AK has been doing this for a while, and for a year or so in the pure digital space. Now we’re bringing that philosophy to other channels. Through the power of Neustar, we’ve added some things, and we’ll continue to refine them. And we have a team of IP people doing a whole bunch of enhancements around IP reputation right now. We bounce truth sets off of Neustar. Those kinds of things are where the benefits are. Getting more of a census population has really changed dramatically since the acquisition.

What sort of channel insights have you added since the acquisition by Neustar?

Most of our contracts don’t let me say that.

Going forward, what are the technological capabilities you’d like to develop in terms of making cross-channel connections in a non-intrusive way?

A lot of the technology we already have. It’s not a technology question as much as it is a privacy and business question. We have the ability to do fingerprinting, but we choose not to. We have the ability to tie PII across devices, but we enforce rules around it. We have a massive footprint but if you as a client don’t have a relationship with that person in your CRM system, you still have to go through the anonymous way of marketing to them, moving them through the funnel. It’s not like you can’t do these things from a technology standpoint, it’s more about the enforcement and helping [clients] navigate these waters.

The next chapter in this is taking these steps with channel partners where we have the matches done, so you can utilize your CRM in digital, and taking that all the way through to television.

Are you referring to linear television or connected televisions and set-top boxes?

I’m talking about cable and linear television.

Would that require partnerships with guys like Nielsen?

There are several partnerships. We’re in the middle of beta-ing this stuff right now so I can’t talk about specifics, but Neustar and Nielsen have a long-standing partnership. You can do the math though and figure out who it is.

What’s the area you’re trying to solve in TV specifically?

Largely measurement. So when you run the ad, did somebody see it? Did they like you on Facebook? Did they call your call center? Walk into a store and buy something? Buy it on your website? Did they see four ads on AOL and three on Yahoo and in what order?

Where are you guys in solving this?

I am super-pleased with how willing partners are to connect and integrate with us on this level. I’m not trying to take the revenue dollars when I measure linear television. I don’t care if I move dollars from television to digital. I don’t make any more or less money from that. Our TV partners are using it to do refinements and trying to increase their budgets because their medium is very, very strong.

So we have less friction than most of the ecosystem. I’m not trying to arbitrage it. I’m not trying to reduce cable operators’ revenue. I’m trying to give them scientifically validated data they can use to support growing budgets if they have strong audiences and good relationships with their customers.

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