Conde Nast wants to quickly build up its data science practice, so it acquired Lighthouse Datalab on Monday.
In so doing, it added three people to its data science team who will enhance the machine-learning and AI capabilities of Spire, its data platform.
Lighthouse Datalab founder Sriram Subramanian will serve as head of data science and report to Karthic Bala, head of data strategy for Conde Nast. The other two Lighthouse employees also will join Conde Nast as part of the deal.
Subramanian joins a growing team. In the past couple of years, Conde Nast’s data science team grew from five to more than 20, Bala said. He wants to use this acquisition as a lure to attract even more data science talent.
“As more investment dollars flow into data-driven solutions, it’s very important to be seen as a market leader in this space, bring the best into the organization and in turn attract the right kind of talent.”
Conde Nast valued Subramanian’s work at Lighthouse Datalab on projects across publishing, TV and digital media. In a project for a cable TV company, for example, Subramanian used data to enhance the planning and scheduling of promotional spots, focusing on “getting the people most likely to convert using the least amount of inventory,” he said.
Subramanian will use Spire to tackle a similar project at Conde Nast, enhancing the performance of its ads and content.
“If you deliver the right message in the most efficient way and deliver higher performance, that will increase budgets because [advertisers] find they sell more product,” Bala said. “If we spend less of their money to get higher returns, they will give you a bigger slice of the pie.”
Today, Spire analyzes and optimizes some aspects of campaigns in real time, but the staffed-up data science team will address how to do even more. “We want to increase the number of dimensions [using real-time analysis] and capture the data and predict in real time,” Bala said.
Conde Nast also wants to let advertisers buy and use segments in an automated way at scale, so Subramanian will build framework to make it easier to activate audience segments.
By focusing on performance and automation – but with Conde’s brand-safe context – the data science team will offer marketers more of the features they’ve come to expect from Google and Facebook.
“We want the right skills to build capabilities faster and in a much more automated way,” Bala said.