Coming during a week of intense ad tech M&A, you could be forgiven for overlooking iPerceptions' acquisition of ad tech provider Datacratic for an undisclosed sum (press release).
But while the deal pales compared to Salesforce snapping up Krux for $700 million or Criteo snagging HookLogic for $250 million, it's a nice example of the ongoing convergence of marketing point solutions.
IPerceptions was founded in 2000 to provide what's often described as voice-of-the-customer (VOC) research to marketers. The company's VOC data is collected through onsite surveys, often served to 1% of a customer's website visitors. Clients such as Dell, Adobe and Ford use it to track things like customer satisfaction and purchase intent.
But iPerceptions also has a nascent audience targeting business that matches survey takers to third-party data sources from partners such as Oracle Data Cloud (nee BlueKai). Its customers can use the resulting behavioral profile of their website visitors to identify and bid on new lookalike segments for ad targeting.
By snapping up Datacratic, the company gains a foothold in ad tech that will help it seize that opportunity. Datacratic's ad tech product suite includes five components - RTB Optimizer, Audience Optimizer, Yield Optimizer, Viewability Predictor and RTBkit – all of which are now part of iPerceptions’ Audience Solutions.
"We're still doing a lot of VOC work, but now we're also trying to help clients who are listening to their customer go beyond diagnostic [applications] and leverage that data for business," said Martin Le Sauteur, CEO at iPerceptions. "We've developed a technology that looks at your behavior, that looks at the 1% of the population that answers the survey and observes how they navigate. We're able to expand the audience of the person who stated their intent to the larger pool of visitors. Now we have a large pool of intent data."
Whereas VOC is historically about retention, iPerceptions wants to make it also about conversion. But that requires an upsell.
"We used to talk to the research people at our customer. Now we're talking to the marketing people as well," Le Sauteur said. He added that those meetings generally aren't too hard to get, as marketers are alert to the opportunity inherent in their first-party data.
The company also wants to help customers monetize that same audience data by selling it through marketplaces such as Oracle Data Cloud.
Since nothing in ad tech is straightforward, the structure of the acquisition is somewhat more complicated than it first appears. Datacratic’s core machine-learning platform, Machine Learning Database, was excluded from the September transaction and will now operate as a separate company, mldb.ai, run by Datacratic founder Jeremy Barnes. Barnes will continue to build out the MLDB infrastructure and extend it to industries outside ad tech. About 10 Datacratic employees joined iPerceptions when the deal closed.
So, does this mean iPerceptions is now a media business?
"That question remains to be answered," said Le Sauteur. "We're not really far from executing the insertion order itself, so we might get into that business. But that decision hasn't been made yet. We have partners that are executing the IO."