IgnitionOne: Bridging The Unknown And The Known

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Will-Margiloff-IgnitionOneWhen ad tech company IgnitionOne acquired data-management platform (DMP) Knotice, did it become a marketing cloud?

CEO Will Margiloff would say the company was one even before. In the most literal sense, he’s right: “We decided back in 2011, well before anyone talked about marketing clouds, that you need to integrate the disparate pieces of marketing and ad tech into a single stack.”

Still, one would be hard-pressed to position IgnitionOne in direct competition with the marketing clouds fielded by enterprise tech giants like Salesforce.com, Oracle and Adobe. IgnitionOne’s background, after all, is in providing solutions that help manage a marketer’s paid assets. To this end, it has most in common with Adobe, which has a Media Optimizer application within its suite.

The weakness Margiloff identifies in the other marketing clouds is their collective inability to follow the trajectory of anonymous online visitors as they become known prospects. That is: Nurture a prospect who visits a website multiple times to the point where he becomes a known converter, and continue following that relationship. Integrating the Knotice DMP is a major component of realizing that vision.

Margiloff spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: Do you compete with or complement the big marketing clouds?

WILL MARGILOFF: With Oracle and Salesforce, we complement what they have. An interesting way to think of this is they deal with the known customers. With the Knotice acquisition, we’re really good at understanding anonymous (prospects). Who is this user? I don’t know his name, but I know a lot about him. How can I nurture him down to a conversion? Once he becomes a conversion, we can kick him off to Salesforce or Oracle or do it ourselves.

What about Adobe?

We’re bridging a chasm like the Adobe guys. They’ve bridged the gap between some paid stuff and some marketing automation, CRM-type things. Then you’ve got the mega-cloud guys like Salesforce and Oracle who are really just on the CRM side and marketing automation side. We’re connecting that with paid, earned and owned.

That’s the IgnitionOne vision. I think that’s the Adobe vision. Maybe eventually that’ll be the Oracle or Salesforce vision: to get into the paid side as well.

You think that’ll happen?

(Oracle and Salesforce.com have) been very focused on the nonpaid: the owned, social and CRM side. The fact of the matter is marketing automation is a $4 billion market and media is a $100 billion market. So my Hobart College degree tells me this will be a space those guys are going to want to get into. There are big dollars to be made on the paid side of things. They’ll eventually get here, but how fast I don’t know.

Let’s go back: What is it exactly that IgnitionOne does?

This is where it gets into the evolution of the product. Now you can buy, optimized algorithmically, search, social and display from a single login. You can attribute the media across those channels in an automated way from our platform. We can help you convert consumers who go to your site by scoring them and delivering relevant content to them. And now with Knotice, I can now store your conversion data or customer data and mail them with CRM. You see this life-cycle marketing platform starting to develop where you can acquire, convert and retain customers.

Why Knotice?

They were amazing at retaining and segmenting first-party data and using the execution channel email. But where they fell in the charts with Forrester and Gartner was they weren’t good at importing third-party data and executing lookalike targeting in other media channels like social or display. That’s where we thought there was a great fit between our companies, because we execute on those channels very effectively and import third-party data very effectively.

What’s the latest on the Knotice integration?

By the end of Q2, Knotice as a brand will be going away. It’ll be integrated from a UI and data perspective. Q3, we’ll have more of their features and functionality in the digital marketing suite. It’ll be iframed in initially.

Why’d you spin away from Dentsu?

We started to think about spinning out the business so we could take advantage of selling our product not just to CMOs but also other agencies. That wouldn’t happen when we were part of Dentsu.

How’s that working out?

We’ve had more agency pitches and invited into more agencies in the last four to six months than we did during the previous three years. We have about $2 billion of agency spend.

What are your splits between brand and agency business?

Seventy percent brand, 30% agency, and most of that is related to the fact we couldn’t sell to other agencies for a long period (of) time.

Are you seeing brands bring their media strategies in-house?

We’re seeing really sophisticated brands bring components of it. Some wonder whether to do search in-house, display in-house or programmatic only.

Do you guys offer a managed service?

We can license our technology, or we can do a managed service but we’re not an agency, like (Dentsu-owned) agency 360i. This has been a key differentiator for some time. It’s weird that as we go to agencies, they are clamoring to license IgnitionOne. It’s why 360i (which used and continues to use IgnitionOne) was so dominant in search.

Correction: An earlier version of this article had a typo in the quote: "We decided back in 2001...you need to integrate the disparate pieces..." The actual year was 2011. The story has been amended.

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