Why AdRoll says brands should be sharing first-party data with each other

Marketing speaks with AdRoll’s Ben Sharp about the retargeting platform’s new product that pools the first-party data of willing clients into a collective resource to power campaigns.

The new product, called ‘Prospecting’, works by allowing advertisers to pool their first-party customer data, creating a much larger set of potential customers than each advertiser would have on its own.

AdRoll says more than 1000 advertisers have already opted in, including SMBs and large corporates.

MarketingWhat do you see as the main benefits of sharing data to use in retargeting for advertisers and for customers?

Ben Sharp: The obvious benefit is helping brands find new, quality customers that are interested in their product or services. AdRoll Prospecting is powered by anonymous first-party data from our IntentMap Data set. With prospecting, advertisers can opt-in to gain access to over a billion new users who are showing intent to purchase.

We’ve always been vocal about the value of intent signals. Other, third party data sources rely on demographic or psychographic data that is static. The predictive act-alike algorithm uses dynamic intent signals, which are indicators of when someone is ‘in market’ to buy.

Prospecting harnesses those intent signals to find new customers who act like a brand’s current customers and predict when a potential new customer is in the shopping mindset for a specific product. This enables advertisers to serve relevant ads for the right products to the right customer at the right time.

M: You’re changing the business model with the launch of this of this new prospecting tool, focusing on lead generation. Previously as a retargeting company you focused only on lead conversion. What made you decide to expand the business in this direction? 

BS: The launch of Prospecting was a natural progression for us. For years, customers have been asking us how they can leverage data used in their high-performing Retargeting campaigns to fuel customer acquisition – that’s what AdRoll Prospecting does.

As the world’s largest retargeting provider, we recognised that using anonymous first-party data cooperatively (with our customers’ permission), could help marketers around the world better achieve their goals.

M: Retargeting is a fairly new online marketing tool. Can you take us back into a bit of the history of how the technology has grown and how successful has it been? What feedback and success stories can you share from your customers? 

BS: Since AdRoll was founded in 2007, we’ve been continually evolving the product to ensure we deliver great results for our customers. Most recently, we announced the update of our proprietary bidding algorithm BidIQ, which incorporates hundreds of attributes including user behaviour and quality of ad inventory available to calculate the most efficient bid for each impression. This algorithm improvement has seen our ad viewability increased by 37% according to the Media Rating Council accredited vendors.

We’ve had a number of retargeting success stories in Australia. One great example has been telco, Yatango. Yatango’s main objective was to drive customer acquisition, however, given their customers have a lengthy consideration periods, it was important for Yatango to make sure they stayed front of mind. Retargeting and Dynamic Creative helped them to develop a relationship with their clients by serving relevant ads. The campaign ended up driving a 200% surge in sales.

M: The success of the new prospecting program relies on your current customer-base of advertisers agreeing to opt-in their first-party data, presumably requiring permission from these customers themselves, then tracking the opted-in customers with cookies. How are you preparing to deal with potential backlash from customers concerned about privacy? 

BS: The data that we collect for prospecting is collected via cookies and it is completely anonymous. We don’t use any personal information such as names or email addresses in this programme.

In order for an advertiser to participate in Prospecting, they need to opt-in to the data pool, AdRoll IntentMap, giving permission for their data to be used anonymously. All data is completely anonymised and treated as an individual impression. There is no transfer of cookies and no individual advertiser campaign information is shared.

We’ve recently updated our privacy notice on our website to describe how we collect and use data in the prospecting programme. This ensures transparency and puts the control in the hands of the consumers by allowing them to opt out of the targeting service through each ad served.

M: Can you share some names of the 1000 advertisers that have opted-in to the new program? Which of these advertisers operate in Australia?

BS: The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Our customers who have been running Prospecting have seen, on average, an amazing 10 percent increase in engagement from those users compared to organic search.

In the US, online payroll tool, ZenPayroll, have had an awesome experience targeting small businesses well below their cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goal.

We have a number of Australian customers using AdRoll Prospecting and we’ll be able to share their stories with you in the coming months.

M: Are you the first in Australia (or the world) to offer a technology solution of this manner? What makes you convinced it will be successful?

BS: AdRoll Prospecting has the largest pool of intent data that advertisers have actively opted into to leverage customer data at scale.

We’re convinced we will be successful because of the combination of high-intent, first-party data and our powerful predictive algorithms.

We have already shown strong performance results for customers who have already opted-in and we have every reason to believe that this will continue into the future.