Quantcast digs the detail for better ads
11 February 2015 | 0
Quantcast is an online advertising and audience intelligence company that has gone from a start-up in 2006 to one of the top five data processors in the world, behind Google, Facebook and the US Department of Defence.
The company was founded by Konrad Feldman, CEO, and Paul Sutter, to tackle that age old question of which 50% of advertising budgets is wasted.
Feldman realised that advertising had evolved, and that non-relevant advertising has become a hindrance, said John Lamphiere, director, corporate sales and operations, EMEA, Quantcast.
“People want answers,” said Lamphiere, and Quantcast exists to bring relevant advertising to consumers of web sites.
Lamphiere, formerly of Facebook and Yahoo, is a recent appointee at the EMEA headquarters in Dublin. He said that Quantcast started by developing a set of tags that allows site owners to gather information about visitors.
Quancast tags allow the owner of the site to understand how visitors got there, from where, and with what media, said Lamphiere. This builds a profile of characteristics that can help understand the customer better. The tags are free, as is the suite of tools to interpret the data, Quantcast Measure.
Hire the best people: “If you do that, then everything else flows from it”
Currently there are more than 100 million unique destinations with Quantcast tags, which generates a massive amount of data to be stored and processed.
“We see 44 million internet users in the UK 400 times a month,” said Lamphiere. “That’s pretty powerful.”
The company processes up to 30PB of data per day.
Based on all of this information, says Lamphiere, if you think of a ‘join the dots’ puzzle, the more dots, the better the picture.
“It is no different in what we do. The sheer volume of data we have allows us to create a really strong picture of the internet user, the publisher’s site and the characteristics of the people who come there.”
The data is then crunched to ensure that relevant advertising at the right time is placed before users.
For example, says Lamphiere, if someone coming to a holiday web site has checked the weather in Ibiza first, then that might put them in a higher intent bracket than someone who has not.
The window of opportunity can be very short, he warns, so the real time data and the clever way it is used allows the relevant advertising to be displayed to the right people within that window.
Lamphiere cites another example in car insurance, where on a renewal day, there might be only a six hour window in which to get the message to a buyer.
The power of real time data, combined with the infrastructure gather and process it has made Quantcast a leader in the field.
There are many services that do something similar, said Lamphiere, but they buy their data and it is often old when they get it and stale by the time they can use it. Quantcast captures information in real time and can process it quickly to deliver an advantage.
Infrastructure that can gather, process and act upon all of this data is critical to the company’s success. As such, the company has a network of 17 data centres strategically positioned around the world in North America, Europe and Asia,
Everything happens in a millisecond, reports Lamphiere, “you need to have infrastructure that is well placed and able to meet those needs.”
“The efficiencies we drive in terms of the data we process are huge. Engineering headcount is very small compared to the other data processors in the top five.
“One of the things I’ve been impressed with since moving to Quantcast is its people,” he said.
The best people
To build services and products that have become one of the top five data processors in the world in such a short time is a massive achievement, said Lamphiere, enabled by the capability of the people in the organisation.
The approach, he reports from experience, is similar to that of the other large data processors: hire the best people.
“If you do that, then everything else flows from it.”
“Talent and people are at the core of everything. An algorithm is only as good as the person who builds it.”
The Irish operation is the only full service centre outside of the US, with EMEA being the second largest region for Quantcast, with offices in Dublin, London, Paris and Germany, and plans on further expansion in the region.