For those of us not familiar with Semcasting, please tell us a little more about your company and core offering.
Semcasting is data and analytics solutions provider that specializes in building mission-critical audiences and onboarding them for brands and their agency partners. Our unique onboarding solution is the result of our patented technology for IP targeting and audience attribution that provides nearly 100 percent reach, cross-device, and complete transparency to the audience being targeted.
Semcasting is a primary source compiler of offline and online data. We built our household and business data from the ground up based on sourcing data from white page directories, home transactions going back 20 years, voter registration, auto repair, roof-top geo-mapping of homes and businesses, healthcare provider data, ISP supplier delivery points, online media consumption and summary data from the IRS, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Housing and Employment data, and more. We compile the deterministic data and build out important affluence, ethnic, and propensity data for hundreds of brands per month. Our offline data is licensed by top database marketers and brands alike in order to enhance their CRMs and devise their marketing strategies.
Our online targeting system is a patented process that was developed to operate independent of cookies in order to maximize unique user reach, to support cross-device, and provide transparency to the users being targeted. Smart Zones maps the delivery points of the ISP and the mobile carriers to the users through popular DSPs in a privacy enhanced manner. Smart Zones is often referred to as direct mail online because it provides “hard” targets to brands for outreach with attribution.
There has been a large emphasis on cross-device targeting in the last few months, as marketers want to reach their ideal audience regardless of device. Do you think there will be a democratized cross-device identity layer in the future that will be available to independent players? Do you think this dataset will be deterministic or probabilistic?
The democratization of cross-device is likely to occur at the DMP/data layer rather than the probabilistic approach employed by certain DSPs today. The hang-up to date has been due to the fact that the mobile device doesn’t support the traditional cookie. In order to achieve a deterministic approach for cross-device, the solution has to be able to cross over between home WiFi and carrier-based signals. This can be done deterministically at the data layer with a sufficient and dynamic impressions history through appropriate IP targeting, geo-fencing, and ISP management.
Brands have started to embrace DMPs to centralize and normalize all their data into one platform, for purposes of more fine-grained user segmentation and targeting purposes later on. Can you explain some of the most common use cases of a DMP and how 3rd party data can be integrated to enrich a brands’ customer data?
Are DMPs destined to become the new corporate marketing database? One of the major challenges for brands has been to tie together first and third party data into the corporate database in order to feed analytics, DRM response, lead generation, outreach, and attribution. The so-called “marketing stack” has taken on a DMP layer and it seems like that capability is evolving. With more of the transactional capability and the touch points of the consumer becoming mobilized by smartphones, tablets, programmatic TV and radio, and even IoT, the DMP is an interesting focal point not only as “the” data repository of digital, but also the linchpin beyond cross-device to cross-channel. The requirement is the consumer common ID – and that ID has to live outside the walled gardens for this to happen.
Your Business Zones feature allows a marketer to reach over 18M business key decision makers through targeting data points like Company Name, Domain, Industry, Revenue, Company Size, etc. To the extent that you can reveal, where do you capture this data to be able to do this type of granular targeting of businesspeople?
The business data is collected from multiple source of offline data. That offline data is constantly being enhanced and it is also mapped to precise geo-location at the rooftop level. Once mapped, Semcasting can effectively ID the ISP to the building and the geo-fence of mobile activity, which provides us a great deal of precise reach into companies, industry categories, revenue, and employee profiles. Additionally, within our business data we collect owners and operators from offline source. Once associated, we can forecast – with reasonable precision – these people to their home Smart Zones. We have 13 million owners and operators at both the home and office.
There are an almost incalculable amount of ad tech companies that a brand or agency can work with today, how do you think they can separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of who says they do something and who actually does something?
Results. Attribution is more common than not at this point in the ad tech enterprise. The brands and their agencies are typically faced with digital response rates that are often one-one-hundredth of those they see in direct mail. On the other hand, direct mail is 1,500 times more expensive per unique user touch point. The math and the cultural profile of digital works really well for ad tech if we are successful in constantly improving our results in digital while lowering the expense profile of corporate customers in offline tactics.
SEMCasting offers free site visitor attribution for any website or organization on the web, for reporting, lead generation, and retargeting purposes. Do you think that cross-channel attribution for the effectiveness of a brand running with multiple ad vendors simultaneously will ever be solved?
In order to solve it, I believe attribution has to become completely deterministic in nature. Brands currently forecast lift metrics associating digital campaigns to store performance, walk-ins, and the equivalent. This is attribution by the algorithm. Today, it still feels like attribution may be a little too meta-data and perhaps not tied to the individual transaction like brands prefer and will eventually demand. To take the fuzzy math out of the attribution process – in my opinion – would require the application of a cross-platform, cross-device ID that is truly universal in nature.
Ad blocking has become a hot topic as of late, especially with the announcement of ad blocker Shine signing a deal with UK Telco Three for network-level ad blocking. How do you think the entire ad blocking issue will play out over the next few years?
I think the issue of ad blocking may be dealt with as a restraint of trade and freedom of speech issue. If you approach this subject from a terrestrial perspective, the consumer is seeing advertising on billboards, television, in storefronts, direct mail, and online. The storefront is likely to have a street “owned” by the city in front of that store. The store owner (or publisher) may be dependent on that advertising on their property to survive. The consumer can elect to go in the store or not. But the consumer does not have the right to force the store owner to take down the advertising in the window. In addition, the city whose street is in front of the store cannot block traffic to the store.
So ad blocking may result in a legal judgment or a free-market solution may evolve. For instance, there may be innovations in the future that allow the consumer to address what kind of advertising they are exposed to through user-defined interest profiling – and the user earns value from that exposure. Innovation sounds more interesting, but we do lean to legal judgments when markets are at the scale of ad tech.
What are some innovations happening in digital advertising right now that you are most excited about?
We are moving beyond the cookie and increasingly settling in on tangible solutions for building more effective audiences. The acceleration of mobile is impacting audiences – one can see a time in the not-too-distant-future where the mobile architecture and infrastructure completely eclipses the traditional notion of the local area network.
Lastly, what is your take on the future of audience targeting and data-driven advertising?
I believe the next window in ad tech happens because of a true universal ID. Walled gardens won’t have the resilience required to support the basic construct of a universal digital ID for each consumer. When the ID is based on a 360-degree view of who the user is rather than just what can be inferred about them within the garden walls, the resolution of targeting, attribution, and the ROI of digital marketing turns into a virtuous circle, which will have an immensely favorable impact on the industry and the economy.
Semcasting is the next generation in Data Management Platforms providing actionable intelligence for marketing services, CRM enhancement, and manufacturing logistics on any Internet-enabled device. Our Semcasting Smart Zones™ platform maps the demographic attributes of real consumers and businesses to their online Internet delivery points in order to automate the creation of highly qualified and verified audiences. We match customers, prospects and Internet traffic to the locations and devices they prefer, enabling analytics and advertising to be targeted with nearly 100 percent reach and unrivaled accuracy. Semcasting is headquartered in North Andover, MA.