Jon Baron is CEO of tag management technology firm, TagMan. He recently spoke to AdExchanger about his business and industry trends.
AdExchanger: Tag management versus data management platforms (DMPs) - what do you see as the difference today? Is Tagman in the DMP space?
JON BARON: Whenever I talk to industry experts, they seem to have a slightly different view on it. My definition is that DMPs are a third-party audience aggregation tool. They do a good job of finding look-a-likes.
‘Tagging’ has always been about the data. We take the data that exists on behalf of the customer and what we’ve seen about the consumer journey -- and then power which vendor gets access at that moment in time to the web page or the mobile app page and so on.
The next thing we can do is fire off the right media segment pixel. We can fire off a Google Ad Exchange pixel or whichever segment pixel they want.
We also handle first-party data on behalf of the customer.
Why not add that third-party, look-a-like business?
For now, we feel that the world is just getting its head around what third-party data management is and how that relates to tag management, and why tag management data and real-time attribution go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Do you see an impact from programmatic media at Tagman? How does that manifest itself?
Yes, absolutely. First, we manage tags across media and marketing channels so that our client gets a single view of their customer. Next, we can do two things - either we pass that data to the programmatic buying partner since that buyer doesn’t have first-party data. Or, Tagman can fire off segment pixels on the client’s behalf across programmatic inventory sources like Right Media, and Invite Media, and DoubleClick, Google Ad Exchange.
How big is Tagman today from headcount and revenue perspectives?
We’re heading towards 100 folks – we’re at 85 right now. Nearly all of our development and product management is done in Europe. There’s a 60/40 split between Europe and the U.S. in terms of headcount. In terms of the number of client accounts, we work with customers like Travelocity and in 24 markets across five brands. All in all, we are “live” on about 270 websites. That includes the U.S., Europe and Asia.
We are growing at about 2X rate when it comes to revenue. If you think about the kind of revenues the client would pay for our services, it could be anywhere between $50,000 up to $500,000 a year depending on how much data they want passed and whether they want all the attribution services, including real time attribution.
Now that Google has moved into tag management, how has this affected TagMan business? Do you benefit from any anti-Google sentiment?
Let me draw an analogy prior to when tag management became a category.
When Google Analytics was launched, everybody predicted that it would be the death of Coremetrics and Omniture. Actually, the reverse happened and it helped to increase the number of clients that they had.
To your point, people are not necessary anti-Google, but our clients like to have some leverage in a relationship and some of our retailers will be spending 40 to 60 percent of their marketing dollars with one provider, which is Google. In my experience, buyers like to have no more than 20 percent of their media bucks in one channel or one provider, at least.
What is very clear is that enterprise customers do worry about their data and they do worry about privacy. This is the reason that Omniture and Coremetrics still have a business. Clients also want enterprise-level service - you can call and talk to someone at Tagman. We never own data – it is always owned by the customer; never us. So the opportunity for TagMan is not just anti-Google sentiment. Marketers want to have some leverage in the supply relationship.
How do you see Tagman evolving?
I would start by saying we are definitely a data layer, and if we can empower the advertiser to own how their data is collected, connected and shared, that’s a good place to be.
What we will do for some of our more advanced customers is we will start connecting attribution data at a consumer level, a single view of the customer back to the information they have in their CRM platform using a cornerstone key such as an order ID or SKU code.
We have customers in Europe who will do online and offline attribution as a consequence of tagging. That’s what the world’s moving to - personalized service for a consumer, whether they are online or offline and you do that by bringing data together to keep a single view of a customer.
Will TagMan get more of the analytics side of the business?
Here’s the pain in the market that I experience. You go and see some of the world’s most sophisticated marketers on the planet and they generally think about everything digital in terms of last-click. That’s the world that we live in.
Tagman helps marketers realize there’s a world beyond last-click marketing - so flat attribution, first-click and so on - that is sophisticated. My aim would be that every single one of our customers eventually does attribution with Visual IQ or MarketShare, or whoever it is - where you are taking billboard data, TV data, digital data, CRM data, and you’re making the world a better place for advertising. But, that’s a long way out.
TagMan has moved from being a European-centric company to adding North America. What are the key differences in those markets that you’ve seen – even culturally?
Actually, I would define us as a global company and HQ’d in New York - the center of where everything is when it comes to digital marketing - the publishers are here, the trading is here. The East Coast is the heartland for me. Just want to be really clear on that.
Cultural differences are the reasons why Europe has come on to this quicker - digital marketing has been bigger than TV for quite a while and has meant a lot more to the CMOs in Western European countries than it did for the U.S. because in the U.S. you couldn’t just build a business up, go into the TV networks and run TV network ads every night on the major networks. That’s one big difference. Europe is also quicker in adopting the mobile phone.
Culturally, I would say that Europe led but what’s been very clear over the last two, three years is that the U.S. has finally woken up, and it’s moving so much faster. Europeans were further ahead just because of the dynamics of the market, but the U.S. always tends to lead. It’s certainly leading in digital marketing now, and probably for the next ten years.
What are some milestones you’d like to accomplish in the next year? And is more funding on the horizon?
We really want the U.S. market to understand that tagging isn’t about website tags. It’s about getting a single view of the customer and making that data powerful elsewhere. If we get half of our customers in the U.S. next year to understand that, that’s a milestone.
Definitely, there’s an opportunity for more funding. The market is very hot. You might have seen the Tagman three leading independent competitors have all taken between $15 and $23 million paid-in capital and Tagman’s at $8 million. You’ve also noticed that Google, and IBM, and Adobe have entered the tag management space, so, yes, there’s plenty opportunity to grow. It’s very, very big.
The last milestone is I’d like to hear more customers getting up on stage and telling their story about how moving off last-click thinking drove their revenue.