Jim Soss is CEO of Red Aril, a data management and audience optimization company..
AdExchanger.com: What's your background? Why get into the startup world?
JS: I began my career in enterprise software (prior to the Internet age), and I have been working specifically in the interactive marketing space for about 12 years now. Prior to joining Red Aril, I was a senior executive at Acxiom Corporation where I led multiple interactive and multichannel businesses. My background is all about data, marketing databases and delivering relevant consumer experiences.
The first half of my career was focused on start-ups and I had a strong desire to get back into the startup world. But meeting Kira Makagon, the founder of Red Aril, is what really drew me into Red Aril. Based on my background, I obviously had firsthand experience with the solution gap in managing online, audience-oriented data, where the scope, quantity and speed of data management are a real issue. When I saw the depth and breadth of the technology that Kira created at Red Aril, and factored in her track record as a founder of Octane Software (which was sold to E.piphany for $3.2 billion), I knew this company would knock it out of the park.
What problem is Red Aril solving?
So, Red Aril helps publishers and advertisers manage a complete data portfolio to deliver quality, targeted audiences for brand and direct marketing. The effect is dramatically improved relevancy and response rates. Publishers can charge a higher rate for their impressions and advertisers have to buy fewer impressions to reach their marketing goals.
This isn't conjecture. In validated study with San Francisco marketing agency Catalyst S+F, Red Aril helped deliver three times the performance of non-DMP-enhanced campaigns, and you'll be seeing additional customers case studies as we validate the findings.
Can you break down your data management platform stack?
Our DMP includes four key elements of functionality. The first is data management capabilities that can securely collect and integrate non-pii online or offline data. The second is audience modeling that organizes the collected data into a taxonomy used for audience segmentation. Third, you have anonymous audience profiles associated with each online user and predictive models that can extend the audience. And fourth is integration with DSPs, ad networks and content management systems to help optimize campaigns and loop results feedback into the profiles in real-time.
How do you differentiate from other DMPs?
Red Aril stands out for the depth and breadth of its technology. Specifically, our predictive modeling abilities, which incorporate many different data elements into individual profiles in real-time, are truly unique. The high quality of the audience insights and the significant and measurable performance improvements are also unique. Finally, we focus solely on our DMP business and do not have any conflict of interests in serving our clients – it's a pure-play solution. That's because we have real-deal technology that stands on its own.
Do you think about a cross channel opportunity in digital for Red Aril? How about online/offline?
As a pure-play DMP, Red Aril is able to think beyond just advertising use cases – even different devices. We currently have clients who utilize the audience advantage, which we create specifically for them, across other marketing channels like web or email personalization.
In many ways, Red Aril eliminates a major blind spot for multi-channel marketers, and our ability to integrate Red Aril managed data and audience intelligence back into existing marketing data initiatives is very important to our clients (and the reverse scenario is true as well). As we have absolutely no conflict of interests in serving our clients, there is no issue over control of the data or resulting intelligence – clearly owned by our clients exclusively for their benefit.
What's your view on Adobe's recent acquisition of Demdex?
It's a good thing for industry overall, as it underscores the importance of DMPs. Still, I am curious to see how the acquisition will change the nature of Demdex. Before the acquisition, Demdex was the only other pure-play DMP besides Red Aril. This could open up more opportunities for our company from publishers and advertisers looking for a truly independent solution.
What is Red Aril's relationship to NebuAd?
I understand that people who are not very familiar with Red Aril might have some confusion about a corporate relationship. There is none.
Red Aril is a new company, with a different business model, product, resources, customers, etc. than NebuAd. Like many companies across the Valley, Red Aril 's personnel includes some bright minds who had worked for NebuAd. The Red Aril platform has been developed over the last two years with an exact purpose for scalable data management and audience optimization. The greatest takeaway for Red Aril has been its ability to leverage some learnings and technology about how to process large data volumes in real-time.
What does the company look like today in terms of employees, funding, offices -and profitability? Any future plans for funding?
We're at 36 employees, and we're hiring in sales, client services and engineering for our New York City office and our San Mateo headquarters. We're in revenue stage, backed by Trinity Ventures, Sierra Ventures and Illuminate Ventures, and we are not actively raising money at the moment.
A year from now, what milestones would you like to Red Aril to have accomplished?
A year from now, if Red Aril has proven with many customer case studies that our DMP makes marketing and advertising more profitable for publishers and advertisers and more relevant and respectful for their audiences, we'll have met our milestone.