Although vertical ad network Precision Health Media has frequently altered itself during its six years of operation, its rebrand into PageScience to expand its contextual ad targeting categories (like consumer electronics, finance and home improvement) is its most significant pivot to date.
PageScience also hopes its new name better reflects the work the company has been doing over the last two years, said CEO Bill Jennings.
"We were forced to pursue a cookie-less solution for pharma and health care companies because of restrictions on behavioral targeting, so we created the notion of page-level targeting, where we would score pages according to the context of the content as opposed to following and retargeting users across the web," Jennings said. "Along the way, agencies started to ask us about other ad categories, where context is really key. We thought about it a lot last year and decided it made good sense to expand our focus."
Cookie-based targeting is off-limits for most of the kinds of pharmaceutical marketers the company has worked with since its inception as a vertical ad network. As the ad exchange business began to supplant vertical ad networks as the efficient way to reach specific audiences, Precision Health struck alliances with AppNexus and video ad tech company Spongecell. But it had to find a way to effectively target consumers that would steer far from sparking privacy concerns about users' health needs.
Will PageScience be successful applying these partnerships and competencies beyond the healthcare vertical? Rob Griffin, EVP, global head of digital for Havas Media, told AdExchanger that the ad holding company's agencies plan to take a look using PageScience for its non-health clients.
"Havas is continually evaluating new technologies and media in the programmatic sector," he said. "We have utilized the page level targeting of Precision Health and look forward to testing their PageMatch technology as they transition to new ad categories like financial under the PageScience brand."
Even as PageScience broadens its purview, healthcare will remain its core vertical, Jennings said. The hope is that consumer electronics and home improvement will provide a sharp revenue boost, though health-related ad spending is expected to generate more than half of PageScience's revenues for the foreseeable future. Jennings declined to offer a more specific breakdown.
For the most part, Jennings believes PageScience can take advantage of the lingering discomfort users and publishers feel about retargeting.
"There's a lot of pressure on the retargeting business – consumers sometimes worry about the invasion of privacy and how their data is used," Jennings said. "And it's not just an issue in health, of course. In finance, when people are looking at content for things like retirement or paying for college or a mortgage, they don't want to be retargeted. And for advertisers and agencies, there's a realization that, just as in traditional advertising, context does matter, especially when it comes to considered purchases like a home or wellness."
As it prepares to take on new clients as PageScience, the company, which employs close to 20 staffers, doesn't expect to add to its staff any time soon. Jennings expects that the New York-based company will have about 25 employees by the end of 2014.
He doesn't anticipate any major acquisitions either, though the company has raised about $1.5 million since opening its doors, it may consider another venture round in the first half of this year.