New Life For Neustar? CEO Lisa Hook Eyes Expansion, Brand Repositioning

Since getting acquired for $2.9 billion by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital last December, marketing services firm Neustar had been mum on its plans as a newly private company.

After the acquisition closed last month, CEO Lisa Hook said Neustar has been busy repositioning its brand and identifying a new go-to-market sales strategy.

“We recognize we’d been horrible at messaging,” Hook told AdExchanger. “A couple of months ago, we hired a [product marketing VP] from Kraft and have really thought through how our solution set fits together. It’s the intelligence layer that sits on top of your stack.”

Although it has a data management platform from its Aggregate Knowledge acquisition and analytics from its purchase of MarketShare, Neustar views its platform as complementary – not competitive – to large enterprise marketing clouds.

But execution hasn’t always been easy for Neustar, which was forced to lower its revenue guidance after losing business to competitors who bundled analytics into much larger suites of mar tech and CRM solutions, rather than selling it in a silo.

“We were losing business to people who were pricing at 10% of our price, and they were all good at marketing,” Hook said. “We made the decision that the market is still in its infancy and that we weren’t going to chase price down.”

Neustar has since revamped its sales strategy around a more unified portfolio.

MarketShare’s sales group expanded to include pre-existing Neustar marketing solutions sales reps. Now its analytics product provides a ladder into a full portfolio of solutions, including the DMP and offline audience targeting.

The company also fine-tuned its point of differentiation, which is identity, given Neustar’s legacy as a number portability services provider.

“We realized [marketers needed an] identity resolution bubbling up throughout their tech stacks with analytics on top,” she said. “So, we view ourselves as being an input and output [for data], not the machine itself.”

Although Hook didn’t say whether Golden Gate Capital would pursue an ad tech roll-up as Vector Capital-backed Sizmek has, Neustar has spent $1.7 billion on acquisitions in the past five years.

“I wouldn’t say we’ll be more acquisitive now under Golden Gate, since our balance sheet has always been robust,” Hook said. “Thirty cents of every dollar in revenue drops to free cash flow for us, so we’ve had the resources to [execute deals] if we want.”

Instead, Neustar will focus on executing a unified product strategy following its MarketShare acquisition and integration.

The company is pitching its media-mix modeling and multitouch attribution tools to Fortune 100s and has put heavy emphasis on international expansion, initially into EMEA.

“Now that we’re focused on organic growth and not just closing the [PE] deal, you’ll see our messaging become much clearer,” Hook said. “We’re just starting to get traction on bookings, and we’re really focused on deployment, account management and continuing to build brand awareness.”

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