ICrossing, a digital marketing agency owned by publishing giant Hearst, unveiled Wednesday the beginning phases of a long-term partnership with marketing software provider Kenshoo.
ICrossing will integrate its Connected Marketing Platform (CMP) with Kenshoo’s tools that automate and add intelligence to bids in paid search campaigns. The ability to automate campaign functions is a key reason behind the partnership.
“One of the KPIs will be how much time we can give iCrossing back to invest in other areas of their business on behalf of their clients,” said Aaron Goldman, Kenshoo’s CMO. “The other is performance improvements of the campaigns themselves, through the science and algorithms embedded in the Kenshoo platform. Are we being more efficient? If we can deliver on both those things, we can agree the partnership has been successful.”
The CMP is an overarching term iCrossing uses to describe its tool set, built around managing cookie-level data, merging it with campaign and audience data, and making the entire collection available for marketing or advertising decisions.
Much of that data’s value comes from iCrossing’s affiliation with Hearst. So just as iCrossing hopes to benefit from Kenshoo automating certain campaign processes, Kenshoo hopes to benefit by accessing data pumped through iCrossing.
“Given our access to the premium audience data at Hearst and other data sources we can access at the cookie level, we can bring unique intelligence to the Kenshoo experience,” said iCrossing CTO Peter Randazzo.
Goldman echoed the sentiment: “A platform like Kenshoo is only as good as the data coming into it and the people using it.” In the ideal scenario, the partnership will enable iCrossing's data, much of which comes from Hearst, to pump through Kenshoo, enabling the latter to make better predictions on what to bid or what keywords to buy. That new intelligence will filter back to iCrossing, who can use it to influence decisions happening in other channels like the website, display or social.
Kenshoo’s tools will gradually replace similar capabilities built natively into iCrossing’s technology. By mid-year 2015, iCrossing hopes to migrate its clients onto Kenshoo tools, though Randazzo acknowledges this will take time. Though Kenshoo and iCrossing have a handful of shared clients, the level of integration with this partnership is deep.
“Our tools have a lot of custom items for each of our clients and every migration will be taken with care to make sure every client gets the best of both worlds from the get go,” Randazzo said.
He was also quick to emphasize the quality of the homegrown bid tools iCrossing will continue to use through the migration process.
“It’s important to note we also have a leading market tool we continue to be rock stars for our clients for,” he said, cautioning against interpreting the partnership as a situation in which iCrossing is sunsetting its own technologies.
“ICrossing by no means is abandoning its thought process in terms of putting effort torward proprietary technologies,” Randazzo said. “We’ve always been an agile shop, placing our efforts in ensuring we get the best return of investment for our clients.”
ICrossing is no stranger in intermingling its technologies. It purchased a data-management platform (DMP), Red Aril, in 2011, rebranding it as Core Audience in 2012. But the current incarnation of the CMP is a combination of Red Aril assets – such as its learnings around cookie matching – and technologies from iCrossing and the Lotame DMP.
“Think of what was Red Aril as the feed,” Randazzo said. “The CMP is the merging of that feed with campaign data to produce the results that creates lift for our clients. Lotame is where the Hearst stream comes in, matching against the iCrossing cookie from the Hearst platform into the DMP.”