On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to start a technology innovation company?
We started Semcasting in 2009 to improve the fundamental quality and depth of data available to marketers for online and offline audience targeting. Much of the data available then, and even now, is based on old census models, generic personas and loosely defined behaviors – much of it based on black box science. In our view, programmatic RTB platforms would quickly make data-driven audience targeting a standard. In order to capitalize, we acquired a startup analytics company whose platform used genetic algorithms. Our goal was to create deep insight from vertical data assets in the auto, finance, retail, healthcare, sports, and travel sectors.
This platform employed parallel processing and machine learning to sift through hundreds of variables and combinations of variables to find the key predictors of conversion behaviors. The beauty of our approach was that it essentially mimicked the human decision-making process. It employed multi-threaded statistical testing methodologies to make sense of massive data sets. It treated data in a more sophisticated manner than the typical Bayesian probability methods that are used in most online solutions.
In 2012, Semcasting made its data available online for the first time by augmenting IP address delivery points with offline household and business data. By bypassing the cookie and using IPs as the key for mapping transactions, Semcasting is able to create three times the match rates and is platform independent. Information from mobile, desktops, IoT devices and locations could all be linked to the physical world in a largely deterministic way. As a result, in addition to deeper insight into the vertical, we provide better reach and more robust audience targeting and attribution capability.
MTS: Given the changing dynamic of marketing intelligence technologies, how do you see the omnichannel marketing attribution and analytics market evolving in the years to come?
Right now, the challenge of current digital attribution solutions is that they are built on datasets that force marketers to forecast a conclusion from a relatively small sample of data. Audiences that live behind the 30-40 percent match rates of the walled gardens of Facebook, Google, Apple or other “universal ID” solutions, make deterministic attribution impossible. Users are on home WiFi, businesses networks, mobile devices, out shopping and increasingly on smart TVs. An error multiplier occurs when the so-called “universal ID” is multiplied across the different “gardens” and “people on different devices,” resulting in an attribution equation that is, at best, probabilistic and at worst, little more than wishful thinking.
Marketers can only fix this problem by keying off the user’s point of engagement and linking it with a common DNA element to offline CRM records, ad networks and mobile usage — all at scale. You need a common DNA element to link devices, platforms, and postal addresses together.
Attribution is in high demand by brands and agencies today. It will remain an open issue until it is able to be performed deterministically across channels on most campaigns.
MTS: How should CMOs leverage intelligent audience targeting technologies to scale the challenges in B2B marketing campaigns?
With programmatic audience-based display advertising, B2B marketers have increasingly moved online — taking their mailing lists and turning them into digital contact lists through the onboarding process. The results of matching a business file to cookies or digital IDs is typically underwhelming. Businesses scrub third-party cookies and decision makers are hidden behind the network. A perfect storm of no scale or accuracy!
In order to connect with a target prospect in a company and reach enough unique users to create scale, alternative tactics like IP targeting are required.
One of the benefits of IP targeting is that onboarding a file to IPs will, in most cases, return a match rate above 80 percent. Furthermore, the IPs can be identified to precise locations. With mobile in particular, this resolution to a location allows marketers to reach many target audiences, both at work and at home. Some call this cross-device, but cross-device without full transparency to the business and household connection is just audience extension.
B2B online display is moving beyond one-dimensional inbound tactics and taking on a more robust form of qualified outreach. When you onboard your prospect lists or turn your website visitors into a mailing list, you contribute to a proactive digital lead generation model for your business. The IP mapping of locations and devices makes this all possible.
MTS: How should CMOs plan their stack integrations to maximize the benefits from predictive analytics and AI-assisted audience analytics platforms?
This isn’t news to anyone… at the very top of the market, the largest national brands are just now starting to investigate the possibilities of AI. Predictive modeling took a long time before it made its way from credit card direct mail to real-time look-alike modeling based on campaign impressions. I suspect that it will take a while longer before Watson-inspired marketing makes it to the mainstream.
In the meantime, CMOs, brands and agencies should test before they buy.
MTS: What startups in MarTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
I’m not. I am more interested in the drivers of change in the select verticals themselves – such as healthcare. Affordable Care Act (ACA), medical research, prescription data, disease states, treatment options and health resource allocations make for a very deep data set that needs to be understood in order to improve results. Both consumers and the providers contribute to this information and they do it at scale. Executed with appropriate privacy safeguards, medical and healthcare data could be a key asset in driving better care coverage at lower costs. Well-targeted marketing represents cost savings and better outcomes in the long run.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign?
Over the past two years, we have partnered with a leading digital automotive platform and other aggregate publishers to help dealers better understand the value of the third-party automotive site audience. We compiled a comprehensive data analysis for all dealers that we’ve completed attribution studies with in Q1 of 2017 for a leading digital automotive platform.
Through our process and methodology, we started with the dealer’s data management software (DMS) transactional data (Sales and Service), and then matched it to the IP address of the consumers in the dealer’s market, anonymized their private information and then cross referenced against the anonymous IP data supplied by the leading digital automotive platform.
Once we identified the matching sales and service transactions, we then looked back five years in the dealer’s DMS data to see if the customer had ever previously purchased or serviced with that dealer – and what kind of purchase and service was performed.
After compiling and analyzing the data we collected from over 150 dealerships across the US, we found that the digital automotive platforms influenced over 60 percent of the average dealership’s consumers. The platform also influenced an average of 63 sales per month per dealer. That’s 63 sales per month per dealer that hadn’t purchased or had serviced from/with the dealer previously in the last five years.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Nothing exotic: Excel, Word, Gmail and my iPhone
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I read most of the Boston Globe each morning. I listen to NPR during my drive times and watch news commentary shows in the evening. I’m also currently reading “Worthy Fights” by Leon Panetta and “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received — your secret sauce?
“Kill what is in front of you.” Address challenges head on and don’t procrastinate and let issues fester. Assume responsibility for your actions.
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Lead investors in the AI and MarTech category.
MTS: Thank you Ray! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ray Kingman co-founded Semcasting, Inc and serves as Chief Executive Officer. An experienced innovator in the content management and data visualization spaces, Kingman directs Semcasting, Inc’ day-to-day operations, the expansion of product offerings and the development of strategic relationships. Kingman has also served as Chief Executive Officer of LightSpeed Software. He transformed LightSpeed Software through the acquisition and integration of firms
Semcasting is a primary analytics and data provider for online display advertising and offline direct marketing solutions. Our patent-pending IP Zones targeting enables marketers to define an audience using automated predictive analytics and convert them to qualified target-ready online audiences. Our offline compiled data for the U.S. consumers is used by the top consumer marketing organizations in CRM and database marketing platforms for customer intelligence and prospecting solutions.
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.