Bridging The Identity Gap: TellApart Acquires AdStack

tellapart-adstackIn a move to ramp up what TellApart CEO Josh McFarland describes as “programmatic personalization,” the developer of a customer data platform for commerce companies today acquired email marketing optimization provider AdStack.

According to TechCrunch, the transaction cost the company, which has raised $17.75 million in funding to date over the course of three rounds, a figure in the “single-digit millions.” Jason Gatoff, TellApart’s head of marketing, told AdExchanger that the TellApart team is now close to 50 members strong.

Gatoff said bringing the AdStack domain expertise and existing products into TellApart’s stack “significantly enriches” the technology. “It allows us to further deliver upon the original vision of TellApart, to [provide] a personalized marketing experience across channels,” Gatoff said. Although TellApart has a range of solutions that span Transactional Retargeting, Audience Targeting, Dynamic Onsite Offers and Facebook Exchange and Custom Audience buys, “there’s a massive opportunity [with personalized email]” that the AdStack buy will bring.

As McFarland outlines in a blog, email “holds the key to identity longevity. … [Email] can be the link between online interests and in-store purchases and the email receipts that accompany them.” With email open rates increasing on smartphones and tablets, the login will eventually serve as the unique identifier cross-device.

Transaction data is looking increasingly attractive to social media and commerce stalwarts. Login With Amazon and Facebook’s new autofill feature and partnership with Paypal, Stripe and Braintree (just acquired for $800 million by eBay) are just a couple of examples. The seeming takeaway is, the less roadblocks to the transaction the better. This becomes especially true on mobile devices, where research have typically outweighed purchases because of the user experience.

Despite the fact that Google, Amazon or Facebook may be growing closer to owning the “online identity” by way of the login (and as Google goes after a ubiquitous AdId,) there is still that critical piece of first-party data that lies in the in-store transaction.

“Connecting offline transactional data with online social persona data is one of the big challenges for brands,” commented Baris Karadogan, CEO of Hip Digital Media. “A few of our big CPG customers are innovating in this area by using a tie between the physical and digital world. They do this by offering ‘digital rewards in the physical space’ as a conduit to collecting that data. This is where the future lies in regard to partnerships and acquisitions.”

Similarly, TellApart, while to date has been “more focused on the digital marketing world, [the company is now] ingesting what happened in-store to provide a more consistent experience on Facebook or through display online,” Gatoff noted. “Our vision is to provide an integrated suite” that brings third-party, CRM, email, website and exchange data into the customer data platform to apply predictive modeling to the marketing mix.

Over the last 18 months, TellApart has segued into serving more of the cross-channel retailer, such as a Sur La Table or Neiman Marcus, in addition to what Gatoff described as a “tier-one ecommerce provider” like Warby Parker.

“We take in all these various [merchant] data inputs that come into the TellApart data platform and the output of that is our proprietary understanding of identity, as well as how we understand the potential value of that shopper,” he said. “Those are our core tenets.”

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