PreciseTarget Exits Stealth Mode With Aggregated Retail Data Solutions

PreciseTarget publicly launched its first retail audience data segments on LiveRamp on Friday.

PreciseTarget ingests audience and transaction data from more than 200 retail partners, primarily brick-and-mortar companies. It then anonymizes the data and packages audiences based on taste affiliations, like men who wear mid-priced vacation clothing or women who purchase expensive cosmetics.

General taste preferences are more useful than brand or product retargeting, said Rob McGovern, PreciseTarget’s founder and CEO.

“The data is clear that consumers are loyal to their tastes, but not necessarily to brands,” which is why someone’s closet might have a cohesive style but not all the same clothing lines, McGovern said.

PreciseTarget’s daily data intake comes from the affiliate marketing programs of its 200 or so retailer partners. The data company becomes an authorized affiliate partner – not to run affiliate marketing campaigns, but to see the full product catalogue from each retailer.

The startup also gets more in-depth transaction and loyalty program data from some retailers, McGovern said. PreciseTarget then scrubs that data of PII and turns it into a synthetic ID. Unlike hashed IDs, like a hashed email or home address that’s used as the foundation for an audience profile, synthetic IDs can’t be used to identify an actual person by PreciseTarget or marketers. That provides an extra layer of privacy security since retailers are pooling their product and audience data, he said.

Marketers or ad tech vendors like DSPs can turn PreciseTarget’s synthetic IDs into actionable audience segments by matching the taste segments to Equifax, which the retail data startup uses as its truth set. So even after audience segments are sold on LiveRamp, Equifax still translates PreciseTarget’s anonymous data into advertising IDs that can be targeted online or used for campaign attribution.

PreciseTarget plans to sell its retail data more broadly, like with Oracle or The Trade Desk. Starting with LiveRamp’s marketplace and Equifax as the identity data set make sense to start because they integrate with practically every retailer and mar tech company, McGovern said.

Retailers and product sellers need aggregated data to compete on even terms with Amazon or sophisticated ecommerce companies.

Aside from its audience segment sales, PreciseTarget offers a subscription service for retailers to analyze their own customers or to personalize sites ad apps in real time.

“How come Amazon’s homepage is personalized to whoever shows up to browse but everyone sees the same Macy’s or Nordstrom’s homepage?” McGovern said. The answer is sparse data, he said. Even if the retailer recognizes a site visitor from a previous purchase or browsing session, it doesn’t know a personalized product assortment that might fit the shopper.

PreciseTarget’s revenue is still mostly in audience segment sales, though, not retail tech services.

The company has a run rate of only $10 million, and hasn’t raised any venture capital. McGovern, who previously founded and sold CareerBuilder and JobFox, funds the business himself.

Like PreciseTarget, Amazon focuses on taste preferences, not re-surfacing products or brands that person has shopped before, he said. And that’s helped Amazon raise its average purchase count per Prime customer to 75 items per year. Brick-and-mortar retailers average just two purchases per year, he said.

“From the consumer perspective, it’s going to seem like the retailer and the brands have a better understanding of their preferences,” he said. “But what retailers need to make that happen is to have a successful unknown company using data from across the retail landscape.”

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