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Conversant Finally Converges? Epsilon-Owned Ad Tech Company Unveils Integrated Stack


conversandAfter being acquired by Epsilon, Conversant had two big challenges. First, continue combining its own disparate technologies into a single stack. Second, get the whole caboodle working smoothly with Epsilon.

Conversant claims it has accomplished the former, as it’s rolled its CRM assets into CORE (Conversant One-to-One Relationship Engine).

“CORE takes advantage of our match, reach and cross-device [tools],” said Ric Elert, president of Conversant. “On top of that, it takes into account data from the 80 million transactions we see a day to the over 100 billion data points we see on individuals.”

While CORE remains on the Conversant side of the house, its cross-device matching capabilities help parent company Epsilon to sync offline messaging with digital.

“Epsilon clients may send all of their media spend [in] direct mail, emails and digital through Conversant to align cross-device and find overlap or efficiencies,” Elert said.

As far as integrated assets go, however, Conversant and Epsilon are still largely separate units.

“I like to think of us as brother-sister companies,” Elert said. “We’re the digital side of the house. It hasn’t been a cookie-cutter approach, but that time frame allows us to get it right versus jam it together and see what happens.”

Elert caught up with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How does CORE build off of your CRM assets? What’s new and different?

RIC ELERT: CORE has the ability to, without any PII, identify the individual, assemble profile information, take action and measure in real time.

We have a immediate turnaround on all of that data. If you get a new phone, you’ll be matched into your profile and [be able to] take action on a newer device or signal in the marketplace. It’s the speed to market that’s really exciting.


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Was your matching capability not real-time before? 

Some was real-time; some was not. Now everything from the profile ID to decisioning to measuring is real-time. It allows us to be hyper-efficient. We can change messaging to have this live, people-talking kind of feel.

Which of your clients are using CORE? 

A lot of our biggest clients, including Gap, The Land of Nod, Urban Outfitters and Cabela’s. We’re also starting to bring some of our agency clients on. We can take that profile and make it portable pretty much anywhere that digital can touch.

Are most of your clients shared with Epsilon? 

We have a lot more clients separately than we do shared.

How does your data enhance Epsilon’s and vice versa?

Epsilon manages data for a lot of big clients and can activate that data digitally in near-real time. We can optimize media by individual.

We don’t provide a lot information back because of privacy requirements. We have to maintain that wall, but there are a lot of interesting things that come out of Epsilon’s marketing databases and loyalty platforms. For a hotel client, Epsilon can make a loyalty offer in real time based on point balances. They can relay the offer much quicker than they could by going through two separate companies.

How do you make sure your campaigns with Epsilon remain privacy compliant? 

We keep our data center separate from Epsilon’s. The only way into Conversant is by a privacy-centric PII stripping mechanism. We don’t allow any online anonymous behavior to flow out to Epsilon. We also use PricewaterhouseCoopers to certify us for privacy every year.

How does it work when Epsilon partners with competitive vendors?

Epsilon is there to make the data more powerful if it’s with Conversant or a third party. They will also let the client know that Conversant will have greater reach and match than third parties, so that helps steer a lot of stuff our way. But Epsilon will also use LiveRamp or another onboarder to move that data to any demand-side platform (DSP) a client wants.

Do you compete with LiveRamp and other data onboarders? 

We don’t function as traditional onboarder where I take your offline data, put it online and shove it into a DSP somewhere. But we do use that to power the engine that we use both for their media buying and the delivery of their campaign.

Is the only difference that you’re not putting it into a third-party DSP, but rather your own? 


As you build out your CRM stack, how are you evolving your media-buying assets?

CRM is still the big driver. We launched a self-service interface on top of the CRM platform that allows people to purchase sites [as well as] individual access, so they can drive messaging to their buyers through the ad platform. All of the data and personalization we have for our CRM customers, we can put that on top of the Conversant Private Exchange.

The last piece is using CORE as more of an ad-tracking and attribution platform. It allows us and third parties to show the overlap of media spend to make that more efficient.

When you work with a brand, does it buy media through your DSP, Dotomi? 

We use [Dotomi] for 95% of our media buys because we’re doing it at the person level, not the site level. We’re looking through 120 billion connections a day for the right time on the right device to talk to individuals. We need that level of connectivity to make that happen efficiently.

We [also] work with agencies, and some brands will throw in another 20% of media that we don’t buy into the platform to use for their campaigns.

What do you think about Neustar growing in this space and its recent Private Equity acquisition

So many people are trying to get into the space through acquisition or merger. Do they have the same building blocks and capabilities that we have? If they don’t, I don’t pay too much attention.

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