MaxPoint Interactive Targeting In-Store Purchasing With Online Ads Says CEO Epperson

Joe Epperson of MaxPoint InteractiveJoe Epperson is CEO of MaxPoint Interactive, an online advertising technology company. I see you’re part of the PayPal mafia. Were you an original gangster there and how does that experience and eBay motors inform what you’re doing at MaxPoint?

JE: No, I am not a part of the “PayPal” mafia. They had left by the time I moved over to PayPal. Interestingly though, the original team at eBay Motors has also produced a number of start-ups including Gilt Groupe, B Stock Solutions,, and of course, MaxPoint.

At eBay, the key to making the marketplace work well was providing the right users with the right information at the right time in order to give them the confidence to bid aggressively on an auction. Additionally, the experience of working under great leaders like Simon Rothman, Jeff Jordan, and Rajiv Dutta enabled Gretchen Joyce and myself to learn what it takes to grow and scale an Internet business.

What problem is MaxPoint solving?

For national retailers, anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of their online ad spend is immediately wasted on consumers who are not located in the immediate proximity of one of their stores. For local retailers that use free standing inserts (FSIs) or advertising in local papers to target an audience within their community, online advertising has not been a viable option – until now – because of the inability to accurately target consumers at the neighborhood level.

MaxPoint changes both dynamics.  Our geographic targeting technology enables brick-and-mortar retailers, consumer packaged goods manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to use online advertising to drive offline traffic that converts to in-store purchasing.  Plus, MaxPoint’s technology is cookie-less which enables advertisers to achieve the reach and frequency required to impact store level demand.

Do you consider your company a demand-side platform, an ad network, etc?

We have not put a lot of thought in where we fit in terms of industry labels.  MaxPoint is a technology platform that allows advertisers to execute neighborhood level digital advertising, including online display, mobile or video.

Who’s in your target market?

National and regional retailers, consumer packaged goods manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and direct marketing firms. Quite often we work with the agencies that serve these companies. These are the market segments that have been early adopters of our technology; segments where driving in-store sales matter and MaxPoint has been able to provide a unique digital solution.

How is MaxPoint’s offering relevant to audience buying?

Every one of our customers has a desired target audience profile.  MaxPoint determines which neighborhoods best match a target profile and are within the retail trade area of a store. In short, MaxPoint can focus advertising spend on only the neighborhoods that matter.

If you’re pulling Point of Sale data from stores that is freely available to your competitors, how do you differentiate from competitors?  What’s unique?

What makes MaxPoint unique is our ability to use individual store level transaction data, which enables MaxPoint to gain a deep understanding of consumption patterns at both the UPC code and Digital Zip level.

We do not rely on the more commonly utilized panel based Point of Sale data.  Our Digital Zip technology allows us to divide the US into 34,000 geographic areas, or what we call “Digital Zips.”

Each Digital Zip contains approximately 3400 households. The Digital Zips are defined analytically by layering a variety of data on top of it – from demographics and psychographics to POS data or even information about disease categories. This tells us a lot about the residents of each Digital Zip.

Will MaxPoint tech work for brand awareness campaigns?

Absolutely, we enable brands to precisely target the neighborhoods that have the highest match for the audience they want to reach.

How does pricing work?  What success metrics do you drive on for clients?

MaxPoint typically charges a CPM that includes the cost of media as well as a fee for our technology.

How is the company funded – any plans here?  Are you profitable?

In September, MaxPoint announced that it had secured $3 million in funding from Trinity Ventures.  The company is growing very rapidly each quarter and we are breakeven while still making significant growth investments.

A year form now, what milestones would you like to have the company achieve?

We are tripling our workforce in the next nine months.  Additionally we are in the process of opening a Chicago sales office. This will now give us significant presence in two key markets: New York and Chicago.

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