Lotame CEO Monfried Says Robust Data, Creative Assets and Interaction Needed by Agencies in Social Media Space

Lotame CEO Andy MonfriedAndy Monfried is CEO of Lotame, an advertising solutions provider for the social web.

AdExchanger.com: You recently stated on your blog that “Data is King” and go on to argue that – over time – purchase intent data (i.e. ecommerce, search) is less valuable than the data derived from a social profile/graph. Search marketers must have just spilled their coffee. Is social the new search in online advertising?

AM: No. Social is not the new search in online advertising. Search and purchase intent will always have a valuable place in the world of marketing, and actually, search and purchase intent can be viewed as subsets of “social.”

At Lotame when we talk about “Social” , we are talking about the 360 degree view of a user. We are talking about how known types of people behave, interact or engage with content or other types of known people. It is the ability to look at users holistically, in real time, and understand who they really are and what really interests them.

Imagine for a second you were a mobile phone company trying to sell your new phone. Naturally, it would make sense to market to those users who have recently viewed or looked at a mobile phone, right? But, what if that user was only interested in a new phone because they wanted the ability to watch comedy movies on the go? What if that user really wanted a new phone so he or she can send group messages to the rest of their soccer team? Having the ability to understand a user at their core, and understand who they really are, enables marketers to become more tactical and efficient when trying achieve certain backend goals.

How will social ad targeting and display advertising exchanges work together, if at all?

Social ad targeting is really the ability to take a set of social data (deep understanding of people) and reach those users with a targeted message no matter where they are online, or in this case, the advertising exchanges.

The process will look something like this:

    1) Using a data platform, marketers will be able to build customized audiences using rich data from social media or other social sites. Which today, seems like the entire web.
    2) Using a decisioning platform, tied into various media or inventory sources, they will be able to determine where they want to reach their users, either by media type (sports site, news site, social site, etc), or by price (cheapest media – real time bidding).

At Lotame, we understand that these three pillars (data, decisioning, and inventory) can be complicated to build and assemble, so we have been hard at work building a proprietary system that unifies all three.

What is your view on data exchanges? It would seem you are aggregating data which could potentially be sold through a data exchange.

Data exchanges are great if done correctly. These exchanges can provide real value to the digital community if they are transparent and accountable. At the end of the day, we could hypothetically sell our data through exchanges, but then again, we could also sell data directly as well. I think it really all depends on how these exchanges address the needs and concerns of the publishers, the marketers, and most importantly, the consumers.

Can you give us a sense of momentum at Lotame?  Where are the strengths? Any weaknesses in the marketplace given the economic downturn?

Momentum is fantastic. We just had our biggest month in revenue and the upcoming months also look promising. Our strengths? Easy. We have an extremely talented and dedicated team who understand the current needs and pain points of the industry. Our team also has enough foresight and intuition to see where things are headed. For the past two years we have been building a system that looks at rich social data, specifically within “social media.” It turns out that two years later, arguably 90% of the web has become social in one way, shape or form, and we are able to capitalize on that data across the web. This, however, is probably also our biggest weakness. Because many people view us as a “social media” company, we are still being bucketed in “social media” plans, when in reality; we are able to extract the most valuable data points from across the web. With those data points, we can build custom audiences. Marketers would find more value in Lotame by removing us out of the “social media” bucket, and just accepting Lotame for who we really are: A next generation data and media platform built for the social web.

Are view-through conversions accepted by your client base?  Given the demand generation “pitch” of social media advertising, it would seem essential.

View-through conversations are accepted by some of our clients; however, it is only a part of what we can offer. View-through tends to favor the larger reach players since they are more likely to serve that last impression. Since our technology allows for highly customizable consumer segments, marketers can adjust their campaigns, audience, and media in order reach whatever backend goals they wish to achieve. Whether or not we agree with those backend goals is another story.

Are media buying agencies keeping pace with opportunity in the social media space?   How does the agency remain relevant and successful going forward?

Yes and no. Media buying agencies understand they need to be in the social media space and they are indeed spending money there, but they are mixing and matching old methods with new methods and that just doesn’t work. If the agency is to remain relevant and successful going forward, they need to do the following three things: 1) Build robust and comprehensive data sets in order to really understand their users, 2) Develop enhanced or social creative assets that will not only spark conversation, but will have a lasting impression, 3) Join the conversation. I recently heard a phrase, “your customers are your most valuable assets.” If marketers aren’t engaging and interacting with the most important asset – people, then no form of advertising will be truly effective. I think that if the agency can pull together these three components, they will find lots of success in this evolving digital media landscape.

Follow Lotame (@lotame) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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