Publishers Clearing House Has Ad Tech On The Mind With Command IQ Acquisition

LiquidCommandIQPublishers Clearing House (PCH) and Liquid, its digital advertising arm, are on an ad tech tear.

Less than a year after buying mobile programmatic company Plethora in December, PCH has snapped up marketing automation company CommandIQ. Liquid, then called Liquid Wireless, was itself acquired by PCH in 2012 as part of Publishers Clearing House’s efforts to monetize its growing mobile traffic.

Terms of the CommandIQ deal, made public Wednesday, were not disclosed.

The PCH stack now includes a homegrown data-management platform, ad-serving functionality and a demand-side platform via the Plethora acquisition, as well as integrations with AppNexus, LiveRamp, Datalogix and others.

CommandIQ brings marketing automation, segmentation, predictive analytics, reporting and attribution – all things that PCH needs to take better advantage of its first-party data.

According to Liquid general manager Steve Bagdasarian, PCH’s first-party ecommerce and social data is used to bolster customer profiles that represent 43% of US adults, which translates to roughly 100 million first-party profiles and more than 16 million unique monthly visitors.

First-party data has been PCH’s bread and butter since the company was founded in 1953 as a magazine subscriptions vendor, later branching out to search, online sweepstakes and mobile games, all of which require user registrations.

“We’re not a Facebook or a Twitter, but 43% is a reasonable base off of which to build products,” Bagdasarian said, who asserted that PCH’s scale makes it a credible alternative to other large deterministic players.

And that’s where CommandIQ comes in, he said. It’s about mobile CRM and building out a deeper customer life-cycle experience.

“When do you deliver an ad vs. push [notification] vs. email? It’s about targeting a consumer based on their behavior when they fall into a segment at a certain time,” Bagdasarian said. “The system routes the next consumer communication to an environment where you know that person will pay attention.”

Intent is also a big part of it. PCH data is fairly rich and mostly transaction-based. Advertiser and agency clients – PCH works with the likes of OMD, Saatchi & Saatchi and Machine Zone – take advantage of segments tied to PCH ecommerce data, using those segments as the basis to send targeted messages via their own DMP relationships.

“When users convert, we can automatically make a decision about the next step of communication by putting them into a subsegment for email or whatever form makes the most sense, which may or may not be an ad,” Bagdasarian said. “It becomes a back-end decisioning off of the initial media action.”

Former CommandIQ CEO Noah Jessop has already joined the ranks at Liquid as the company’s head of data, where he’ll be helping brand clients apply their own data against the PCH audience.

Jessop will also be spearheading Liquid’s new San Francisco office. Other Liquid offices are scattered across the East Coast, including locations in New York, Boston and Portland, Maine.

Headcount at Liquid stands at 71. Jessop is the only of CommandIQ’s roughly 10 employees staying on as part of the acquisition, which gives the deal a whiff of acqui-hire about it.

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