TARGUSinfo Sees Momentum In Creating Online Audience Segments With Offline Data Says McLenaghan

TARGUSinfoPaul McLenaghan is VP of Interactive Markets for TARGUSinfo.

AdExchanger.com: What insights can you provide on current momentum at TARGUSinfo as it relates to your online services?

PM: We are seeing a great deal of momentum around our AdAdvisor solution, which we launched out of private beta in February.  AdAdvisor is a unique online targeting and optimization platform that leverages our vast repositories of verified offline data on every US household to build predictive audience groups and demographics segments and bring them to the online advertising industry in a privacy-friendly way.

In our sixteen years in business we have demonstrated again and again that rich, deep data is the lifeblood of successful marketing and advertising businesses.  So we are not surprised that interest in AdAdvisor is coming from all facets of the online advertising industry: agencies, ad networks and exchanges, publishers, media buying platforms, data exchanges, etc.

How does TARGUSinfo differentiate from the many other data providers available in the digital marketing space?

AdAdvisor is a new predictive-targeting solution that stands apart from other data providers by leveraging the industry’s largest repository of verified offline lifestyle and demographic information.

Our team of analytics experts has more than 25 years of experience in the offline direct marketing world.  They have architected a segmentation methodology to build predictive audience groups and demographic segments which have wide-ranging application for our clients and partners both online and offline. The predictive nature of our audience groups and demographics segments enables advertisers to quickly and easily find those anonymous individuals that fit their target audience.

Unlike online behavioral targeting firms who see a limited number of data points for a given user and place them into a very specific and time-sensitive in-market category, AdAdvisor understands that individuals have a large number of interests at any given time.

We leverage millions of data points per segment, coming to us from hundreds of data partners, to build highly predictive propensities across thousands of product, service, lifestyle and interest categories.

In other words, whenever one of our partners sees a user that we have placed into an anonymous audience group, they have a very robust profile of what that person’s likely responsiveness is to advertising across a nearly limitless array of categories.

Lastly, we do not have to rely on inferred demographics derived from aggregate site profiles to describe an audience. All of our data is verified because it is repeatedly cross-referenced within our repositories.    This gives our clients and partners much more confidence in the accuracy of our demographics data, because it enables them to be far more accurate in their targeting, reporting or backend analytics.

Are ad exchanges important to TARGUSinfo’s business model?

Exchanges are very important, not just to the AdAdvisor business model but to the entire online advertising ecosystem.  They provide publishers a simple way to maximize revenue on their inventory.  Ad exchanges also enable advertisers a way to get more reach than ever without having to negotiate multiple I/Os.

What is exciting for TARGUSinfo is layering in AdAdvisor as a targeting parameter on top of the exchange inventory.  This gives agencies and advertisers the ability to serve ads to their target audience, using our audience groups and segments, no matter where they are on the Internet.  They no longer have to worry about looking for the best places to “find” their target audience or buy based on publisher site profiles or advertising network “channels.”  Instead, they can use our data to define the target audience for a campaign and input their parameters into their bid profile, so that the exchange will serve their ad to their audience wherever it sees those users.

How do you overcome PII concerns in digital media?

We take privacy very seriously at TARGUSinfo.  When we designed AdAdvisor, we incorporated guidance from industry policy and legal experts to ensure that our practices not only met current privacy standards, but exceeded them.

AdAdvisor is not a behavioral targeting solution.  We do not track users or collect any click-stream data to build audience groups or profiles.  Our cookies contain anonymous non-PII which our partners and clients use to improve their own targeting and optimization performance.  Moreover, even though we do neither serve ads nor track users, we provide users with an opt-out of the AdAdvisor service.

How can publishers benefit from TARGUSinfo products?

Publishers can benefit in a number of ways.  First, we can give publishers a more accurate view into their audience and thus a greater ability to “slice and dice” their audience to attract more advertisers.

In addition, for publishers who want to create more customized experiences for their visitors and increase the effectiveness of the inventory that they have sold directly, we can provide them with greater insights into the propensities and interests of each visitor, based on the segment or audience group they fall into.

When prospecting, where is the sweet spot for TARGUSinfo’s online marketing customers?

Data is key to being successful in any marketing or advertising efforts.  Ad networks are great clients for us because we can help them put their best foot forward when responding to RFPs from their advertisers.  Instead of having to rely on inferred data and aggregate site profiles to determine if and how they can deliver the advertiser’s network, they can with great confidence and accuracy ensure that the campaign is delivered to the right types of people.

Agencies and advertisers are also very strong partners and clients for us.  Agencies love being able to have us define who their target audience is, and use those definitions to conduct a unified and consistent media buy across multiple channels – publishers, networks, and exchanges.

Instead of putting out RFPs that say “we are targeting 40-somethings who like to travel internationally”, they can simply say “show my ads to this set of AdAdvisor audience groups”.  Since the networks already have licensed our data, they and the agencies are now all speaking the same language.

How does the TARGUSinfo pricing model work?  And, how do you respond to concerns that data services often cost more to deploy than the lift that they provide?

Unlike other information services companies who have offline businesses that focus on large database/batch files, TARGUSinfo has always focused on the single transaction, delivered in real-time.  We typically build all of our solutions with a query-response revenue model built in, to take advantage of our real-time data delivery capabilities.

I agree that some data services are difficult and costly to deploy.  You see this primarily in traditional offline data companies who do not really have the capability to deliver data in real-time, and do so at a large scale.

Since TARGUSinfo has always been in the business of delivering data in real-time, with query counts that measure in the billions, deployment of our data solutions is actually quite easy.

As far as lift goes, we have been providing data to improve marketing, customer acquisition and customer retention both online and offline for sixteen years.  Our reputation as a company with a commitment to delivering the highest quality data is well deserved and I believe our base of almost 1000 clients is a testament to that.

What are the factors involved that will finally bring brand awareness dollars and begin to match the time spent by the consumer on the web?

As an industry, we are seeing a fundamental shift towards data and audience.

Agencies and advertisers, in conjunction with data providers and technology providers, have a greater ability than ever before to feel confident their ads are reaching the right people.

Rather than blindly buying media and hoping for the best, agencies and advertisers can now buy “audiences,” and more to the point, they can buy their desired audience.  That is what will bring the brand advertisers online, because until now there has not been a truly efficient way to measure brand advertising effectiveness and if a branded campaign did actually reach the desired audience and make an impact.

Follow Paul McLenaghan (@PaulMcLenaghan), TARGUSinfo (@TARGUSinfo) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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