Ad Platforms Onboard Equifax’s IXI To Attract Financial Services Advertisers

ixi-servicesBanks, brokerages, insurance companies, mortgage providers and the like want to direct their advertising spend toward users they know will convert, which requires granular audience targeting.

“The KPIs are just much more performance-oriented,” said Jordan Bick, VP of financial services at Pandora, which recently began working with financial services advertisers. “They want to know how many new accounts they’re going to get.”

Third-party data providers like Acxiom and Experian can provide media companies with limited financial data gathered through consumer surveys. But IXI, the marketing services arm of Equifax, receives first-party data directly from financial institutions, allowing it to segment far more granularly than competitors.

“[Other providers] will survey 250,000 folks every quarter and extrapolate that out to the US,” said Jeff Sporn, head of digital services at IXI. “Because we’re getting direct feeds from financial institutions, we’re getting an exact read on close to half of the assets in the US.”

Access to first-party data allows IXI to target against segments at the “micro-neighborhood” level, a group of seven or more households with attributes as specific as “active traders,” “small businesses by assets,” “likely new mortgagers,” “premium credit card owners” and “creditworthiness,” while keeping personal identities anonymous.

IXI doesn’t have to outbid competitors for access to this data. The company has a 20-year reputation of managing first-party data for the biggest financial advertisers in the space.

“It’s really hard to convince financial institutions to give over such powerful data,” Sporn said “IXI has built a really strong reputation of keeping that data safe.”

IXI was acquired by Equifax in 2011, which only strengthened both its reputation and its data assets. (IXI can’t use personal data like individual credit scores from Equifax, but it can use that information to create aggregate audiences.)

Traditionally, IXI would clean and aggregate raw data and hand it back to advertisers to activate for marketing. But the rise of digital has led IXI to work more closely with clients to who need help navigate emerging channels.

“In the last five years or so we’ve helped them with the channels as they’ve gotten more complex,” Sporn said.

To activate its data on new platforms, IXI has partnered with DMPs including Lotame, MediaMath and Adobe, as well as platforms with huge audiences like Pandora. And it fuels about 60% of the addressable TV market, which Sporn estimates at roughly $60 million.

For Adobe, having IXI data on its DMP, Audience Manager, allows financial advertisers to target KPIs specific to their industries.

“[IXI has] financially focused premium segments, but they also have customized segments for different industries,” said Kiki Burton, senior manager, product strategy at Adobe. “Our customers with highly tailored needs would be able to find valuable audiences for purchase.”

As IXI has sprinkled its data across the marketing ecosystem, it has picked up clients across verticals where a consumer’s economic status plays heavily into their purchase decision, like autos and luxury travel. An airline, for example, might want to target recent grads with a flash sale, but it would use very different messaging to target business travelers, Burton said.

“Those kinds of more granular, in-campaign targets can help be fueled by this demo and financial services data,” she said.

Despite a rich pool of first-party data and 78 million logged-in users per month, Pandora wasn’t an ideal platform for financial advertisers until it inked a partnership with IXI two months ago. Now, it’s live with an active trader segment for Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch division and is in the process of creating a small business owner segment with certain revenue levels for retail banks.

The shift to new platforms has required a bit of hand-holding for financial advertisers, who are traditionally conservative with their advertising spend. To facilitate new relationships, IXI has built out a team of channel managers who assist with trainings, setup and regular refreshers.

“They’re used to mail, TV and newspaper,” Sporn said. “We’re saying, ‘This is where the eyeballs [and] ears are. Start funneling your money there.’”

Update: A micro-neighborhood is seven or more households, not seven or fewer. 

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