Tealium CEO: Tag Management Will Prove ‘Faster Time To Value’ For Mobile Tracking

JeffLunsfordEnsighten’s acquisition last week of rival tag manager TagMan underscored the interest in the backend technology. While tag management systems (TMS) still have implications for IT staff, increasingly digital marketers are looking to these tools to ease data exchange across their sites and speed up site performance.

Tag management vendor Tealium manages analytics deployments on web and mobile sites for companies like IBM Coremetrics and Adobe SiteCatalyst, and counts ecommerce sites like Petco and Priceline as clients. The company says mobile Web and app analytics are the next frontier in tag managers’ data arsenal.

Jeff Lunsford, CEO of Tealium, spoke with AdExchanger about this trend.

AdExchanger: Ensighten’s acquisition of TagMan indicates more consolidation in the tag management space. Why is this happening?

JEFF LUNSFORD: The tag management platform is the place to define and manage the right points at which to distribute to your digital data – either web or mobile sites and mobile apps. Architecturally, it takes a bunch of friction out of the space, meaning it shares data amongst vendors and it makes it easier for vendors to collect data. Our customers who are ecommerce providers, publishers, the enterprise companies [are able] to define and leverage their data if they have a standardized data layer in their tag management platform.

The category itself has crystallized to become a critical component of any best-in-class digital tech stack. We think of it as a platform within which you define your universal data object to serve first party data to all of your digital marketing vendors. It gives you a centralized console for control, privacy, security and even a place to enrich that data. But it also gives you the ability to collect a superset of your vendors’ data and leverage that in real time.

What’s the single biggest trend you’re seeing?

The mobile area is emerging and very rapidly growing. Mobile is one of the hottest topics for ecommerce and digital content providers because they want to track user journeys across multiple devices. When using our platform on Web and mobile, then we can stitch that all together for you, join user sessions and show you that one user session.

How do you play a role in matching data points cross-device? There are lots of mobile analytics startups doing this.

We think of ourselves as a universal data layer. We are not doing probabilistic [solutions]. Think of us as a real-time, first party data platform. When customers authenticate or have a social ID we can combine and figure out, so you know that that’s the same customer. We think the best and most dependable way to stitch together cross-channel sessions is based on first party knowledge you have of that consumer. Our overarching strategic objective is to be a data platform, so we’re fine with mobile guys building businesses, pulling data from us through our APIs to do their mobile cross-channel work. But it’s also a capability we have inherent to the platform.

So what is tag management’s role in the mobile Web tracking or app environment?

The same way you want to collect data on your desktop website or mobile website, you also want to collect data natively as part of the JavaScript tag management platform. But when a company has a mobile app, they also want to collect data and [may be using] five or ten different monitoring or tracking or data collecting platforms inside their app. Each time they want to add [a vendor such as] Flurry or a Kontagent (now Upsight), that means they’ve got to take the SDK from that mobile app tracking company, bake it into their app, get their app recertified by the Android or Apple store, get it into the store. And then their customers have to download and update their apps before they get the benefit of that new capability.

We have one universal SDK where if you put your app in once and publish it, you can add all the other mobile-tracking capabilities through our cloud-based console and the moment you publish, you get the functionality of that Flurry or Kontagent right away through all your apps that are already out there. You don’t have to get your app recertified in the app store. You don’t have to download it before you get the benefit of the tracking. It gives you reduced coding time, gives you faster time to value for mobile tracking and mobile data collection and it’s the right way architecturally to handle it.

Can you talk about headcount and funding?

We’ve raised $27 million in capital from angels and Battery Ventures and we are a very capital-efficient business and have been able to grow the business without raising more capital. We don’t need to raise capital at this point. We’re certainly open to it if it’s on our terms, but we certainly plan to grow the business without it. Probably 40% of our employees are code-capable engineers and we’re up to 170 employees from 100 a year ago.

Where do you see Tealium in one to two years?

We’re much more of a master data enterprise platform than a DMP, which brings in all sorts of third party data. We are where you define and manage your first party data. We don’t want to be a DMP. That’s a crowded space and there are a few DMPs who are trying to do tag management, but tag management is incredibly complex. Being a standard enterprise data platform is a full time job and the DMPs should look at us as a source of rich, real-time data and get all the digital vendors data from one place rather than pull from 10 places.


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