It’s tough to keep up with what’s going on at LiveIntent, pretty much what you would expect from a six-year old marketing technology start-up that has grown from five people at launch to 170 staff today.
Mid-June brought the business a $32.5 million growth equity investment that will be used to enhance LiveIntent’s technology platform, already offering marketers a privacy-safe closed loop solution leveraging anonymized email addresses as the foundation for ‘people-based marketing’.
The investment capped a hectic period of awards and expansion for LiveIntent. In 2014, the business was named the #2 fastest-growing company in New York by Crain’s. This year it was anointed by Forbes as one of America’s Most Promising Companies; a nice tribute for doubling in size, revenue and reach in 2014.
A hectic June also saw the firm announce a partnership deal with Salesforce, allowing companies to sync customer information in Salesforce with their email ad targeting. With Salesforce’s Active Audiences solution and LiveIntent, marketers can orchestrate personal advertising campaigns as part of every touchpoint along the customer journey. Salesforce customers will also be able to reach segments of their first party data in email sent by more than 750 publishers who work with LiveIntent, including The New York Times and Meredith.
People and programmatic
You might think that, after squaring away those two major deals, LiveIntent President Dave Hendricks would be heading to the beach for the rest of the summer. Not a chance – he’s moving, with his family, to London to head up LiveIntent’s new UK operation.
“My biggest worry at the moment is finding schools for my daughters and a baseball team for my son,” he jokes. But once schools and sports teams are sorted, Hendricks will be turning his attention to developing the UK market for people-based marketing.
“Programmatic ID is becoming a real thing for brands, using their own data to buy across platforms,” Hendricks says. “LiveIntent is going to triple down on the UK, it’s an especially sophisticated market, a different scale compared to the US, making programmatic much more important.”
He explains that in a smaller market with less inventory, it’s crucial to sell advertising efficiently and at a higher value. “If you don’t monetise all your inventory, you’re making a critical error.”
Hendricks believes that publishers do a really good job of monetising web inventory, but worries that as much as half of it comes from bots or is fraudulent. “Compare that to a logged in inventory, LiveIntent’s email inventory. That’s 100 percent human inventory”.
Looking to help publishers and brands maximise the monetisation of their audiences regardless of market scale, LiveIntent’s UK operation will have two clear areas of focus.
First, large publishers that have reach on a national scale or are aggregating nationally from local footprints. “They have trouble selling programmatically to a smaller market,” says Hendricks, “It’s too hard to do manually, but LiveIntent will give them a platform.”
The second area of attention will be grocery chains like Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Tesco. Hendricks says these organisations have a constant need to put products and offers in front of people. “Eating food and grooming is inevitable… mostly,” he laughs.
Hendricks explains that the supermarkets are the largest players in the market, reaching audiences at scale. “You think Tesco, supermarket. I think Tesco, data company. They are publishers across all media and we want to bring them to our platform to acquire reach and audience.”
Brands “need to work with publishers”
LiveIntent’s publishing clients might see this as a threat, retailers encroaching on their territory, but Hendricks says they should see it as an opportunity. “Supermarkets can only do so much in their own media. They need to work with publishers.”
He says the people reading newspapers and magazines are who the brands want to reach, but until now they’ve been guessing who they are. “We can take the supermarket’s file, show it to a publisher and they can test at scale. We can test if this segment saw this ad, targeting different geographic areas, testing if these ads drove direct or indirect sales.”
Hendricks says testing can also be done throughout LiveIntent’s network, not just with individual publishers. “This is all machine based, all programmatic. A lot of systems involve real hand work; this gets done programatically, in real time, at scale. It’s what publishers are doing on the web but with email and with the added accuracy of email identification.”
LiveIntent describes itself as the go-to solution for brands and advertisers looking to market to people, not pixels. With about half of engagement taking place on mobile, its platform optimises for device, but also location, time and context. “We work with about 37 different signals,” says Hendricks.
LiveIntent’s new UK office has three people at the moment, four when Dave arrives in August. As they roll out the ability for UK publishers and brands to target marketing messages in email, reaching people when they’re present and paying attention, it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be more people in their London premises very soon.