Meir Zohar is CEO of data exchange, eXelate.
Ad Exchanger.com: Can you provide insight on recent momentum at eXelate? Any observations due to the recent economic slump?
MZ: We're experiencing strong growth on both sides of the eXelate Targeting eXchange – buyers (ad networks and agencies) and sellers (publishers) of data. Since we're in a burgeoning segment of the market and in the middle of a "hockey stick" growth trajectory, we're not as affected by the economy as the bigger and more established players. Furthermore, we provide exclusive ROI builders for both the ad networks and publishers who participate in our Targeting eXchange, therefore, the down economy actually provides more reasons to work with eXelate.
Generally speaking, who are your clients - such as any particular vertical silos? Any ad networks or mostly agencies? And, where do you see the growth opportunities?
On the "buy side", we work with anyone looking to leverage audience data to increase advertising value. Ad networks, agencies, ad optimization platforms – all of them are customers, including over 40 top ad networks. On the "sell side" we empower leading publishers who deliver targeting data on nearly 120 million unique users in vertical segments including Auto, Travel, Finance, Shopping and Demographics.
We see growth across the board – each side of the eXchange feeds the other. As publishers look for new ways to build a business around their audience data, that feeds the demand and provides more opportunities for our buying clients to enhance their campaign targeting.
Are you seeing brand awareness marketers buying from eXelate's data exchange whether directly or through agencies? How could eXelate be of value to brands?
Yes, we're beginning to see more activity as a result of the buzz surrounding eXelate in 2009. Our value proposition to brands is very straight forward - utilizing personally unidentifiable data to better target a brand's prospective users in the most efficient and cost-effective manner in order to maximize ROI.
As the largest data exchange, we can offer an unmatched variety of data including demographic, user interest and purchase intent across a range of vertical segments – 19 in all. This means that brands can virtually "create their own targeting segment", based on multiple types of data – not just one indicator. This targeting capability better matches the way that brand marketers target their campaigns – based on numerous variables that best identify an audience.
How does eXelate differentiate itself with other data exchanges?
What differentiates eXelate's Targeting eXchange is the volume, diversity and quality of data, that we provide buyers, and the control that we give publishers in delivering this data "to market" In terms of volume, with 120 million uniques, eXelate is the largest data exchange. Regarding diversity, eXelate offers a range of demographic and interest-based segments, including Auto, Travel, Finance, Shopping, Business, Fashion and a broad range of demographic segments. Through testing and validation by our Optimization Lab, and through our rigorous methodology, we're able to ensure the quality of our data.
For publishers, we provide a unique set of tools that allow them to not be just a blind "data donor" but an active participant in our data marketplace. We give publishers the ability to manage, monitor and monetize their audience data – basically to build a real data business. No one else is really looking out for the needs of the publishers like eXelate is.
Can you provide examples of exactly what kinds of behavioral (or other) data are coming through the eXelate exchange today?
We are capturing billions of deep granular data points – what we call qualified targeting events – on multiple activity levels. We analyze the targeting events in our data lab and roll them into specific Targeting Segments based on three high level categorizations. These categorizations include Demographic data derived from user site registration information on top social nets (NOT inferred information), consumer Interest data gathered from specific site activity on relevant vertical sites (such as parenting and auto enthusiast sites), and deep purchase Intent data culled from relevant commerce activity on top transactional sites. We further segment and sub-segment this data into relevant buckets that in many cases drill down to the product and keyword level.
What's your view on display ad exchanges? -A benefit to the advertiser and publisher?
I'm a big believer in display advertising exchanges because I'm a big believer in the power of display advertising and in making the model as efficient as possible. The display ad market has received a bad rap for too long based on performance comparisons vs. search that aren't relevant. How much branding can a text link do?
Under my leadership, my previous company, Oridian, was actually the first big ad network to bet on this model, as we were the first major ad network that joined Right Media's exchange. And eXelate is actually the only data exchange that is fully integrated with the Right Media system.
So media exchanges are in our DNA – we believe that they level the playing field for pubs and buyers, drive greater advertising efficiency and provide an excellent venue for the integration of performance enhancing data.
What benefits will real-time bidding (RTB) on ad exchanges bring to data exchanges? Will eXelate data "play" in this RTB space?
As in any other exchange, RTB is the right business model to bring maximum benefit to buyers and sellers on a data exchange as well. eXelate already offers basic bidding on our eXchange, and as the data market matures and becomes ready for RTB, we'll launch that processes to meet the market needs. In the meantime we feel that it is important to provide data sellers as much transparency and control over the sale of their audience data as possible. That is why we have tools like our eXchange management system – teXi for Publishers, which gives publishers more control over pricing and revenue generation from their audience data.
Regarding clients connecting the dots to eXelate data and data exchanges, any feedback on how clients manage attribution with your exchange's product? Can eXelate assist with measurement?
When it comes to behavioral data, the core value proposition is all about reaching a target audience at a more efficient rate or optimizing campaign performance to drive ROI. Based on both our pricing model and our campaign optimization tools we can make sure that a data buyer can directly attribute performance to our data and calculate ROI.
On the pricing side, we have a two models – a revenue share model, in which we only get paid when our data is used (and subsequently only get continually used if there is success) and a per pixel "rental model" which allows buyers to maximize the potential leverage that the data can bring. Both are easily accountable on a per campaign level and stress data value as part of the campaign performance.
Additionally we also offer a Campaign Insight program that can cost effectively empower buyers to test broad segments of eXelate data, directly track its performance and incur minimal overhead. Basically if a targeting segment works they can see it in the Insight report and determine the amount of budget they want to commit. It is a virtually risk free way of leveraging BT.
Any plans to expand to the auction of offline data in addition to online? Will data exchanges get "there" someday?
Since offline data requires using PII, I don't see us moving into that direction before there is clear legal guidance regarding acceptable use (if any) of PII. That said, there is so much more work to be done with online data that I don't feel the desire to expand to offline data.
Where does the name "eXelate" come from?
Like many company names it is a hybrid of several words that denote our corporate drive to generate success for our clients and ourselves. In this case, a combination of the terms "excel" and "escalate" -- with a capital "X" to show that we really mean it (and to drive copywriters crazy!).