What inspired you to start PreciseTarget?
It all started with a question: why don’t all retailers personalize their e-commerce experience? The journey led me to understand that retailers have sparse data about their customers. For example, the largest non-Amazon apparel retailer averages only two items sold per customer, per year. If you only buy a sweater and a pair of socks from a merchant, it barely knows you. Compare this with Amazon, which is selling over 100 items per year to its prime customers. PreciseTarget‘s mission is to combine the data of hundreds of retailers to overcome the sparse data challenge
What lessons from CareerBuilder have informed your work at PreciseTarget?
At CareerBuilder I learned three important lessons: 1) My assets drive home every night. I need to surround myself with smart people who share a passion for building a great company, 2) Focus on the customer’s problem, rather than on our technology. Tech companies too often lose sight of the problem the customer is facing, 3) Carefully choose the hills you want to take. Small companies often overextend themselves, and I’ve learned to do fewer things well is a secret to startup success.
What makes PreciseTarget different from other consumer data companies?
We’re the first company to focus on what drives the consumer’s retail decisions. Consumers are driven by their personal tastes, both consciously and subconsciously. When the Sales clerk says, “May I help you?”, you invariably respond by describing your taste. Your taste also guides you during a visit to an eCommerce site. We’re the first company to understand the tastes of consumers. At present we have profiled over 220 million adults, which is approximately 99% of the U.S. population. We partner with hundreds of retailers in our product development. When they use our data they typically see a 50% to 100% increase in purchase conversion.
Could you tell us about the Equifax partnership – how it started and the recent expansion?
The early feedback from the market was that we have a hot product. The demands from the market made us realize that we aren’t at the scale to service the largest clients in the market. We approached Equifax as a distribution partner, where we can leverage their customer-facing strengths. Additionally, Equifax brings additional data assets to the table, and when combined with our data, breaks new ground for the retail segment. Our combined data product is the first to combine consumer taste with consumer spending ability.
What lessons have you learned about the retail applications for Data Science since starting PreciseTarget?
Retailers are facing a new high-velocity paradigm. In the old days, a retailers’ catalog was current for 14 weeks. There were four 14 week seasons each year. Fast fashion has entered the realm resulting in dramatically faster catalog assortment cycle times. The fastest we’ve seen is Zara, which is now cycling its catalog assortment every two weeks. This high-velocity environment is making retailers more dependent on programmatic solutions. We believe the future retailer will have more data scientists than merchandisers.
What can retailers and brands expect to see when they start using your technology?
Customer engagement and conversion are the ultimate measures of how you’re servicing the customer. I recently met with a retailer seeing a 94% bounce rate on their website. Said another way, their customers are willing to give the retailer the time it takes to load one page to prove their stuff. We help retailers focus on what’s important to the consumer. Consumers love Spotify and Netflix because their platforms are designed to provide personal experiences. Many retailers describe us as enabling them to be the Spotify of their market segment.
What is your product roadmap for the future?
We have a long list of innovations in the pipeline. Consumers want personal experiences, without the ick- factor. We’ve designed a data system that’s intended to empower consumers to make better decisions, rather than exploit them. Consumers have a great dislike for the retargeting ads that stalk them across the web after they’ve clicked on a product. Rather than dropping 17 targeting cookies on a consumer, we encourage our retail partners to focus on presenting products that match the consumer’s taste. Consumers don’t complain about Spotify or Netflix’s system because they’re using the consumer’s data to create a more personal experience.
Rob McGovern is a Serial entrepreneur who founded Careerbuilder.com and PreciseTarget. He initially took CareerBuilder public then was part of a group that took it private for $250 million in 2000. While at Careerbuilder.com, McGovern lead efforts for two major acquisitions and built the company to 400 employees.
After Careerbuilder.com he found Jobfox. Rob McGovern has also authored two books and served on the board of many public
PreciseTarget is partnered with over 300 major retailers to deliver targeted product offers to consumers. Our offers are featured at coupon sites, major publishers, and popular shopping destinations. Our focus is delivering offers that drive higher customer engagement, and greater purchase conversions.