Polk Execs Price And McBride See Offline Data Meauring Online Activity

Polk and ad summosLast week, ad network ad summos announced an agreement with automotive data company, Polk. According to the release, “With access to Polk’s vehicle make and model data, ad summos is able to determine the vehicle purchasing and ownership behaviors of individuals served online display ads.” Read the release.

Polk’s Andrew Price, who is VP of Media, Advanced Technology, and Dealer Solutions, and John McBride, Director, Sales and Client Services at Polk, discussed the deal and its implications.

AdExchanger.com: To begin, please share a bit of background on yourselves and Polk business.

JOHN McBRIDE: I run Polk’s solutions in the media industry. Historically, that’s been the newspapers, cable, TV networks and TV operators. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been leading our digital initiatives to figure out how to structure Polk data and support the online audience targeting aspects of mobile and display as well as figure out how we can play in some of these measurement opportunities.

ANDREW PRICE: I’m the vp of our division. Outside of what John talked about with media, and outside of what we do with the auto retailers, what we do is service and sell our solutions to all of the companies that service automotive retailers. We work with companies such as universities, government entities, for mostly statistical information to help them understand what’s happening in the market.

For example, a university might need our information to help them get a grant, or they might need it for some type of business case they’re putting together. An energy company might want to get our information on forecasting to understand what the effects of the electric vehicle cells might be on their power grid and things such as that.

Overall, we’re a 130‑year‑old, privately-held, fourth generation company.

Our strength lies in our historical, vehicle information that we have because we’ve compiled it for years along with the analytics to assist companies with their marketing.

As the digital movement has begun to take hold, and as more and more of the manufacturers have begun to increase the portion of their spend into this part of their marketing budgets, it’s imperative that we take our heritage and apply it to online. If we don’t, from a strategic perspective, we’re going to get left behind.

What are some key differences between the online and offline opportunities for Polk?

JOHN McBRIDE: There are two obvious ones. The first is through display advertising and mobile. We can drive up the effectiveness of the impressions with our data, and get at the right consumers with a lower amount of impressions. The second is the ability to understand, from offline data, what that consumer looks like that has seen the impression. Automotive is a tricky vertical to do measurement in, because the buy cycles are so long between purchases.

But what we can do is understand a manufacturer’s target customer and measure whether those target customers are being exposed to media. That’s not something that we’ve been able to do in TV, which is where the majority of the spend is in the automotive space today.

What would you say Polk does for the marketer?

ANDREW PRICE: What we’re able to do is help from a traditional perspective – which is critical: analyze the marketplace, the buying habits and the types of vehicles that are being sold from a national view all the way down to a dealer’s backyard. Then, we are able to apply a science behind that and help marketers, whether it’s at the OEM level or the retail level.

The key is – if they’re leveraging information that we have, then we’re able to measure that performance.

What about a holistic cross‑channel attribution modeling program, where you bring TV into this in addition to other channels such as digital?

JOHN McBRIDE: Clearly, that’s a holy grail, and we’re trying to figure out how to do it. There are certainly measurement organizations in each of the verticals that do it for those specific mediums. But no one really comes to market with the ability to look at this thing across the different mediums.

How do you think that’s going to come together?

JOHN McBRIDE: You’ve got some organizations that are getting positioned to do this, like a Nielson or even a Kantar Media.  What Polk’s trying to do is figure out how we fit in with those types of players or whether we should do something ourselves.

Looking at your new deal with ad summos, should we think of this as another form of cookie‑targeting where, at some point, media buyers will be able to buy the Polk cookie through ad summos and target media off of exchanges or any publisher relationship they have?

JOHN McBRIDE: ad summos is different than that. It’s really back‑end measurement. The knowledge that ad summos will gain from the back‑end measurement will help them with their media placement decisions. But, their model is a little different than some of the other ad networks, in that, they’re not doing a lot of that cookie‑based behavioral targeting.

What appealed to you about ad summos implementation?

JOHN McBRIDE: First, they’ve integrated measurement into their standard offering. It’s not as if they’re going into GM or GM’s agency and saying, “We’ll run some ads for you through our network, and… Oh, by the way, if you pay this extra dollar amount, we’ll give you some measurement.” They’ve embedded this measurement into the CPM, which we like. We think that’s the right way to do it. Secondly, ad summos tends to target higher value publishers. Because they’re different, we’re a little bit more trusting of them as there are privacy concerns and issues. We think their model is safer for us longer‑term.

ANDREW PRICE: There’s lots of companies working on cookie targeting.

There are not and cannot be companies that pop up and can do the measurement. You have to have a complete database, nationally, of every buyer and every seller, across the U.S., over multiple years, to be able to do that. So for us, it’s a key differentiator and, to be honest, carves out a niche and a space for us that is not easily competed against.

Beyond CPMs, what are publishers going to get out of this deal?

ANDREW PRICE: Publishers are going to know,that there is a way to validate their spend and build an ROI around it. Now, if we’re talking about the high‑end publishers, they might be threatened. It depends on how the data plays out, but it could go either way. I think that any good publisher is going to take the information and they’re going to spin the advantage to them.

[From our perspective], it’s the offline piece that allows the measurement for the online activity.

By John Ebbert



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