Credit Bureau TransUnion Nabs TruSignal

TransUnion is busily expanding its digital marketing product portfolio.

On Wednesday, the credit bureau and consumer data provider acquired marketing tech platform TruSignal.

The deal – TransUnion declined to share terms – arrives less than a year after the company hired seasoned ad executive and former MediaLink managing director, Matt Spiegel, as EVP of digital marketing solutions in charge of accelerating TransUnion’s audience targeting business.

TransUnion has an in-house team of data scientists that spins up in-market financial data and custom targeting segments for marketers and data exchanges. It’s a manual process that can take days or even a week – no bueno in a world of real-time customer experiences and interactions.

A key part of the rationale behind buying TruSignal, Spiegel said, is to start automating look-alike audience creation. TruSignal’s platform can ingest CRM data and rapidly model it with offline data in around an hour.

Rather than working with marketers directly, TruSignal primarily built its business white labeling its predictive modeling tech to media companies, buying platforms and data providers, such as 4C, Amobee and NinthDecimal.

With TruSignal on board, Spiegel also wants to help marketers expand beyond targeting audiences only based on their own first-party data.

“Our mission is to make it really easy for marketers to think about blending their own data with smart data science and signals – with data outside of their walls,” Spiegel said. “If you rely only on your own data, you can’t scale.”

The acquisition reunites TruSignal with its former parent company, eBureau, an offline data and predictive analytics platform that TransUnion bought in 2017. TruSignal spun off from eBureau before the TransUnion deal two years ago, but now their technologies could be recombined under the TransUnion umbrella.

As to whether there may more acquisitions coming down the line, “I wouldn’t say we aren’t still looking at the marketplace to see what’s available,” Spiegel said, but the goal right now is to make sure TruSignal is properly integrated before making another move.

“What we’re spending the most time on is making sure that TransUnion has a holistic approach to digital marketing solutions,” Spiegel said.

It’s in that same spirit that TransUnion recently participated in a $10 million venture round to support OTT data management platform Tru Optik.

“Our ultimate focus is on identity-based marketing as the future, whether that’s being able to offer custom audiences in a more direct way or by understanding how to apply that capability to a household graph in the OTT/CTV world,” Spiegel said. “We’re building solutions that build more connections.”

But what about privacy concerns? The optics around data-related technology acquisitions aren’t ideal. The evolving privacy landscape, however, isn’t a reason to overcorrect to the point that marketers can only tap into data about their existing customers, Spiegel said.

“The pendulum has overswung from marketers using outside, third-party data sources to create segments that were often not validated, to the complete other end of the spectrum,” he said. “But when you only leverage data about your current customers, in many ways you’re just marketing to people who already know you.”

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