Transparency in Targeting

If you’re anything like me, juggling another targeting advertising network on your media buy is the last thing you want to do. That’s why I was excited when I recently met with Michael Katz, interCLICK, president. He founded the company when he recognized the need for a transparent ad network in a marketplace dominated by blind networks. Its transparency is very good. Its reach is good, too, with a 68 percent online reach. But what really got me excited is a possible one-stop network that can provide the targeting advantages of multiple ad networks out there. I should mention that I haven’t actually worked directly with interCLICK yet since we’re into 2010 planning, but I was definitely intrigued enough to learn more.

Anna Papadopoulos: How long has interCLICK been around and what differentiates you from the multiple ad networks currently available?

Michael Katz: interCLICK has been around since 2004. We currently have five offices around the country, including sales offices in New York, San Francisco, LA, and Chicago. We have about 75 employees as of August 2009 and are a publicly traded company under the ticker symbol ICLK. We are a technology-focused supply-chain management company, having built our proprietary platform to maximize efficiency along the online advertising value chain.

AP: Do you consider yourself a behavioral targeting network? What is your overall philosophy on behavioral targeting?

MK: I would definitely consider interCLICK a BT network. I consider “behavioral targeting” to be a bit of a catchall that refers to any form of data-enabled audience targeting to produce the most effective audience from a larger online population.

AP: How do most advertisers use your platform?

MK: Advertisers use our platform to run highly efficient and scalable campaigns in a brand-friendly environment.

AP: What kinds of targeting do you offer? How granular can you get?

MK: We offer all forms of IP address and cookie-based targeting and get as granular as the client requires it to be. Examples of IP-based targeting include frequency, geographic (Zip Code level), daypart, [and] technographic. Examples of cookie-based data targeting include contextual, purchase intent, social, demographic, and offline data.

AP: Who are your top advertisers?

MK: We are primarily focused on serving top digital agencies that represent Fortune 1000 brands.

AP: What are the top targeting areas right now?

MK: The type of targeting really varies client to client and campaign to campaign. What makes our platform so unique is our ability to optimize across all facets of our supply chain so we are not constrained to a one-size-fits-all approach.

AP: How do we set up quantifiable metrics to gauge success (or failure)?

MK: The best way to gauge success is to first define what the campaign objective is. Next, you want to isolate the effects of whatever you are testing by creating a control group. This will allow you to create a baseline and evaluate the effectiveness of whatever you are looking to test.

AP: Whom do you consider your major competitor?

MK: We don’t really think of the industry this way. We focus on providing best-in-class solutions that maximize efficiency and scalability for our clients. There are a lot of great ad networks out there.

AP: What do you see as your limitations right now?

MK: We have three constraints: time, money, and quality. We are usually tasked with choosing two out of three.

AP: Let’s talk privacy. How do we go about treating consumer privacy while still making this work for marketers?

MK: The underlying issue here is education and the solution is transparency. Showing consumers what information is being tracked and allowing them to configure settings and even opt out of future targeted advertising is of paramount importance for preserving consumer trust. Companies like BlueKai have done a great job at being very open with users.

AP: What is the selection process for your data partners?

MK: Our criteria for choosing data partners is to align supply with demand. If we have significant advertiser demand for a type of targeting, then we will make sure we can provide best-in-class solutions that are scalable and efficient.

AP: Who are some of your partners?

MK: We currently have direct and indirect partnerships with about eight data providers. We have seen great success with BlueKai in particular, as well as Bizo.

AP: Where do you see all this going in the next 12 months?

MK: The current trend during the first half of the year shifted budget to more effective and scalable solutions. I think that represented a permanent shift in the marketplace. Over the next 12 months the focus will continue to be on providing accountability at scale.

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