IAB MIXX: eBay Says There’s No Such Thing as ‘Enough’ Data

Stephen Howard-SarinAs marketers, ad-buyers and CMOs are increasingly asked to defend their spend, a “consistent data framework” that surpasses the boundaries of channel will be one way to help them win budgetary battles, according to one exec.

Josh Herman, VP of partner and product strategy at Acxiom, joined executives from eBay, Datalogix and Nielsen Catalina Solutions to lead a panel discussion about the colliding worlds of first-and-third-party data during today’s IAB MIXX Conference and Expo in New York City, where hundreds of marketers, agencies and vendors convened at the Crowne Plaza Times Square.

One topic on the table was how retail publishers can leverage their first-party data to allow brand advertisers to tap into their broad audience base.

“None of us are focused on ‘online’ commerce anymore,” said Stephen Howard-Sarin, head of North America Display Advertising at eBay. “It’s about commerce anywhere, regardless of platform. We believe that knowledge about the shopper is probably the most important thing we bring to the party. It’s important not to have silo [after] silo of data both as a publisher and a marketer.”

eBay company PayPal has made it public that it’s experimenting with facilitating transactions through connected TVs – one of many multiplatform experiments eBay has endeavored on. The question around monetization of those initiatives arises much later down the road, Howard-Sarin said.

“You may see same-day delivery on eBay vans, but [that doesn’t mean] I’m selling ads on eBay vans,” he said. “We want to make sure we enable commerce in the online and offline world. My team comes in [much later] once those channels have truly been created” and tested.

eBay’s business model, operating dually as both an enterprise marketing services and solutions provider and online marketplace, led to another hot area of discussion amongst the panelists – cookies and user privacy. “The idea that it’s an ‘either or’ world” is one of the biggest issues the industry is hashing out, noted Herman.

“The challenge is, you need many tools in your toolbox to be able to confidently deploy campaigns in the cookie world, but you have to be able to work with ‘non-cookie’ based products and those brands that have first-party relationships with the consumer,” he added.

The more measures taken against the free-flow of cookies, the harder it will be for independents to keep up with the Yahoo’s, Google’s and Facebook’s, those companies that have that “direct-user connection,” Howard-Sarin acknowledged. “We [at eBay] operate in a cookie-less world, so the eBay identity is the user’s unique ID.”

Although “we love to create lift on our platform,” it’s not all the company is focused on, Howard-Sarin said. “Just having eBay data will not tell you what cat food somebody buys or what car is in their garage. In order to serve the widest swath of marketers – even if you wake up with a lot of data, there’s no such thing as ‘enough’ data” and data partnerships are essential.

In order to serve the needs of marketers, “we have to be heavy in programmatic,” he added, which is leading eBay to test this fall a self-service mechanism for a “very small subset of advertisers,” merchants and commercial partners who want to broaden and automate their advertising reach, but who could benefit from a self-service way in which to do so.

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