Interview with Michael Benedek, President and CEO, Datonics

Michael Benedek

“The consumer comes first — this is a concept that we incorporate in everything we do and something that all members of our ecosystem should follow.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What galvanized you to join Datonics?

As President and CEO of Datonics, a subsidiary of the AlmondNet Group of companies, I head the company’s business of providing high-quality, high-performing data to marketers while helping data-providing partners maximize returns from their data. I helped establish Datonics over seven years ago by taking AlmondNet’s online data division to a standalone company that was laser-focused on aggregating and distributing highly granular and proprietary search, behavioral purchase intent, life-stage, B2B and demographic data.

How can publishers benefit from partnering with Datonics? What sets Datonics apart from its competitors?

By partnering with Datonics, publishers can generate incremental revenue on their web pages without serving any visible content and using up space on their pages. This integration also allows our publisher-partners to identify the different types of audiences that arrive on their sites. The relationship affords publishers an additional revenue stream with minimal setup and fees and provides them with valuable analytics about their audiences that they can use for media sales and business development purposes.

What are the core tenets of your business development model?  How does Datonics add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?

Datonics historically specialized in search data, compiling keyword interactions from shopping sites, product review sites, comparison engines, directories and other online properties. While we remain a leader in providing keyword-based data, our data offering has expanded to behavioral, life stage, demographic and B2B data as well, coming from both leading online and offline sources. Most recently, we added premium data sets from the highest quality offline data companies, white-labeled under the Datonics brand. A link to our full taxonomy is available upon request.

How do you prepare for the highly disruptive mobile advertising ecosystem?

Datonics offers a comprehensive data set targeted towards the mobile user. The same audiences that are available via cookie targeting are also available for targeting on over 150 million mobile users in North America.

What are some ways that brand marketers can leverage keyword-based, behavioral, life stage, demographic and B2B data in their digital marketing efforts?  

Brand marketers can leverage keyword targeting for search and life-stage segments. Most marketers are familiar with using keywords in search marketing. For life-stage, an advertiser can target specific personas based on certain keywords. For example, an advertiser may target a new mother based on the keywords in the web content with which she has interacted.

What is the difference between pre-packaged segments and custom segments? What are the key benefits of each for marketers?

Pre-packaged segments are readily available and best utilized when an advertiser is looking to engage with commonly targeted audiences such as “college students” or “car buyers.” Advertisers also have the option to combine pre-packaged segments to create segments such as “People who searched for a luxury car in past 30 days” and “have a household income above X”  that aligns with their target audience. For even more granular targeting options that are not listed in our pre-packaged taxonomy, Datonics can build a custom segment based on any combinations of keywords and phrases chosen by a marketer.

How can mobile marketers take advantage of data?  

Mobile marketers can use data in a similar way as other digital marketers by identifying the types of audiences that they’re looking to reach and pairing such data with their campaigns. For example, a ride-sharing company can target the young professionals’ segment to try to build their customer base with that specific demographic.

What are some of the unique benefits for marketers when they combine their first-party data with third-party data?

First-party data identifies users who have obviously shown an interest in a brand. For example, signing up for a newsletter or buying from the brand. Any such data that is available provides valuable insight. However, first-party data is limited and there are often observations that can only be provided by layering on third-party data. For example, a sports drink company understands that they are popular with men, ages 18-25. Third-party data can reveal that their customers are also avid gamers or outdoor enthusiasts.

What are some privacy considerations that marketers should have when using third-party data?

The consumer comes first — this is a concept that we incorporate in everything we do and something that all members of our ecosystem should follow. Privacy is part of the Datonics DNA and all of our products incorporate privacy-by-design. I served on the NAI board for 3 years and our parent company, AlmondNet, invented and evangelized the concept of incorporating an opt-out link in every banner before the concept was in vogue.  While there are unique laws and regulations — that vary by jurisdiction — that all members of the ecosystem need to be aware of, we believe that the key to a vibrant and flourishing ecosystem is one where self-regulation is encouraged and pursued.

Which marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

We use a number of tools to help with our marketing, sales and project management efforts. Examples include Salesforce and Podio.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in marketing operations for 2018-2020?

Everyone references blockchain and AI so I won’t dive deep into those. Lots of exciting stuff is starting to happen in Augmented and Virtual Reality — looking forward to seeing that evolve and had the opportunity to partake on my last trip to the US Open.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

AI is emerging in all facets of tech, but in the advertising field components of AI have been used for quite some time. Programmatic advertising relies on data and machine learning is needed to convert the data into meaningful actions. One of the ways that we’re incorporating AI into our work at Datonics is by investing in our research and development team to grow our AI capabilities.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I’m a big proponent of leading by example. If your team doesn’t see you doing what you ask them to do, they won’t do it. I incorporate technology into my workflows to make me more efficient and encourage my team to do the same. Since we’re in the technology business, it’s not a hard concept to get across.

One word that best describes how you work.


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I have a few. I use Apple Mail, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay connected. I use Waze, Uber and Maps to get around.  I use MyFitnessPal, Fitbit and AllTrails to stay in shape. I also use Fandango, Ticketmaster, and Stubhub for movie/concert tickets.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I’m an early riser, which is helpful for working with teams oversees who are already up and e-mailing. I wake up at 3 am most mornings and clear my email, which helps me to approach the day in a more productive way.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I’m always reading a book. Now it is “The Patagonian Hare” by Claude Lanzmann – resistance fighter, bon vivant, writer, editor, Zionist, Holocaust historian and film maker. This man did it all!  I subscribe to and read multiple daily newspapers — Financial Times of London, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and New York Post. I’d subscribe to the Toronto Globe and Mail if I could get it delivered to my home in NYC. I also subscribe to magazines: BusinessWeek, Forbes, Vanity Fair, GQ, London Review of Books, The Economist, The New Yorker, and many, many more.  While I am a digital guy, I love to spend a post-workout, weekend morning on the couch turning the pages of my magazines and looking at the beautiful ads (and even some of the articles).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Give back.  I’m trying to do my small part through involvement in Futures and Options, an organization that provides NYC high-school students with internship opportunities in Tech & Financial Services companies. Datonics has hired multiple interns over the past couple of years and I’d love to see more pick-up from others in our ecosystem. Also proud to be involved with AIPAC Tech Division, which promotes Israel and Israeli tech.

Something you do better than others — the secret of your success?

My good looks and charm. But really, I think my sense of humor is what keeps me going.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Vidal Sassoon — saw him speak at 92nd Street Y a couple years back and was hooked.  Wish I’d had the opportunity to meet him before he passed.

Thank you, Michael! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Michael Benedek is the President and CEO of leading online data marketplace Datonics (, an AlmondNet Group company. Benedek was most recently President of AlmondNet Data Division and joined AlmondNet in 2000 as Vice President, Business Development. His experience extends to over 20 years in the Internet, financial services and healthcare fields while based in New York and in Tel Aviv. He holds an MA degree in International Affairs (International Political Economy) from the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada and a BA degree from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

datonicsDatonics, a subsidiary of AlmondNet, is the Internet’s leading independent aggregator and distributor of highly granular and proprietary search, purchase-intent, life-stage, demographic and B2B data. Datonics’ 1000+ pre-packaged segments and unlimited number of custom keyword-derived segments facilitate the delivery of highly relevant, privacy-sensitive ads to 200+ million North American consumers on all of their devices. Datonics is headquartered in New York City with a research and development center in Tel Aviv, Israel. Datonics is a member of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI).

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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