AiThority Interview with Dan Hellerman, VP of Digital Ads at Terminus
Please tell us about your current role and how it has evolved through the pandemic months?
I am currently the VP of Advertising @ Terminus. My role continues to evolve through the pandemic months. With the advent of work-from-home a majority of the workforce went from working in the office where they are easy to identify with IPs and other identifiers, to working from home. A significant signal data companies used to signal whether people were even working at a company (IP) changed immediately as the length of time where a user was on that IP climbed from weeks to months, lots of data sources significantly lost accuracy.
My job became even more challenging, but, because Terminus had the foresight to be built on top of a dataset that included cookies, which track users regardless of the IP they are on, we didn’t struggle nearly as much as other companies who based their dataset solely on IP.
My challenge became “how can we prove these people still work at this company when they may never exist on a corporate IP again?” Cookies were accurate in the moment, but they needed a continued feed of corporate identity data to REMAIN accurate.
How should advertisers and publishers gear up for the cookie less economy?
There is never a better time to get personal and start collecting your own 1st party data to ensure your company can continue targeting prospects in the future. For Unified ID, in the US consider partnering with companies who can match your Business Emails to Personal, and vice versa. For GDPR / LGPD regions start collecting opt-ins on emails collected for advertising so you can continue to benefit from this level of hyper targeting.
If you want to continue to spend at the scale cookies have afforded you as an advertiser, the time is now to begin to evaluate Identity Graphs that can take your identifiers and expand them to other forms like business & household IP, Unified ID, MAIDS, and more.
Finally, consider partnering with companies who can help you turn your 1st party data, like emails sent, into actionable audiences to target, or, better yet, can turn highly engaged audiences on your website and onboard them directly to an identity graph, avoiding personally identifiable information and identifiers like cookies or IP addresses at all.
Does Cookieless economy spell the start of another era of Google and Apple’s dominance in advertising metrics?
I don’t believe so, while Google will still be the market leader we have come a long way in the last few years, recently we’ve seen 10+ states accusing Google of creating a monopoly in online ads, multiple lawsuits, and just last week the unveiling of Google’s Project Bernanke where they were using past bid data to give its own ad buying an unfair advantage thanks to the discovery process in Texas’ antitrust lawsuit. While Google may not adopt Unified ID as a method to target on their platforms, they don’t have to, anytime a user logs in to a Chrome Browser (~66% market share) or a Google App, they can drop the identifier they need to continue tracking people across the web. I do believe that if Google were to block other methods of targeting except its own, we would see it turned over rather quickly in court.
Apple is another case entirely. They seem to have built their platform on empowering users and giving them the ability to choose tracking levels front and center. It’s a more fair tradeoff than Google’s moves in my opinion. However, the internet runs on ads, we don’t have a better way to monetize the internet at the moment, and it costs money to run content heavy sites that typically rely on ads, and I do agree with Facebook that Apples moves to limit personalization will drastically affect small businesses advertisers, but in reality will cost all advertisers more money. I would love to see Apple adopt a more open method of targeting on their browsers. Unified ID especially is based on a user already logging into a site and taking that self identifying option, I feel like that’s a natural fit for Apple’s ecosystem as the user has self selected to receive the ad. It will be VERY interesting to see how Apple responds as new identifiers and standards expand into next year.
Tell us more about Terminus’ recent announcement related to first party data sets? How would it benefit your existing Martech customers?
Another huge benefit of being ahead of the market at Terminus was the recent acquisitions of Sigstr and Ramblechat driven by our leadership. Both of these companies changed my current role dramatically with the underlying data they provide. Anytime someone starts a chat, or opens an email sent from Sigstr (where legal!) we are capturing the users information as well as a copy of their household IP address. This email service provider and chat data is 100% accurate. We KNOW these users exist on this IP address, by running this past our already massive corporate IP database we have created a unique, future-ready data set. Over the last year we’ve pushed new integrations with Outreach and Salesloft, with hundreds of thousands of emails sent daily from BDRs to target accounts and prospects where we are collecting data.
In addition to the huge IP address database we have been building, we have also begun integrating the best next generation identifier, Unified ID. Unified ID was built by The TradeDesk, a $34B advertising platform that Terminus is built on top of. This standard, which is based around a user’s email address, allows us to target prospects when they are logged in and identified across the web in the future. TradeDesk has made this standard open-source and handed it over to PreBid.org for management, and adoption is growing quickly by the second. By combining this data with our customers data will allow for personalized targeting across the web regardless of where our users are, we are combining this with TradeDesk’s Identity Alliance, a combination of 5 future-proof identity graphs (TapAd, Drawbridge, Oracle Data Cloud’s Crosswise, and AdBrain), the result of which is our ability to expand audience coverage by over 196% versus any one vendor.
Is it worth it to invest in cookie-free digital ads? What are the other options for advertisers if they want to go away from cookies?
It’s more worth it then ever. Unlike cookies where a large number of them fell into the ‘deterministic / probabilistic’ category, IP and Unified ID are different. If you are on a vendor who is using deterministic matching to figure out Residential IP, then your experience will be similar, but if you are on a vendor using ESP (email service provider) or a similar data match that provides an incredible level of accuracy, your experience will be unmatched.
Unified ID takes things to the next level; it’s an EXACT match for who you want to go after when they are logged in. I expect the CPM to be higher but it will be worth the cost.
Overall I’d expect rising CPMs for more accurate data, but the tradeoffs should be better engagement and accuracy, which is well worth it in the long run.
Your predictions on the future of mobile advertising technology and how it helps ad tech innovations in pandemic era:
I think we will see a rapid rise in the valuations of companies specializing in identity graphs. With rising availability of impressions in CTV, in-app advertising, MAIDS, and other pieces of data advertisers are going to want to be able to target with a single piece of data, and be able to hit all these new placements and device types. Identity graphs solve that problem. The most accurate will naturally be the winner but there will be bad graphs as well that push down accuracy for more impressions (since they bill on a CPM basis.) So marketers need to get tough with feedback and hold vendors accountable for accuracy at scale.
I predict we will see more sites requiring logging in faster to support Unified ID since we will see higher CPMs and profitability from that type of targeting. I would expect to see simple forms like “enter email to read this article” just to get the opt-in.
Finally, I would expect to see a lot of consolidation in our space. With email as a primary key for Unified ID and IP data becoming more and more value to build and segment on, as well as companies specializing in converting 1st party data to actionable audiences, I would expect a lot of acquisitions and consolidation after things smooth out from the transition.
Thank you, Dan! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Dan Hellerman is a Vice president of Digital Ads at Terminus
Founded in 2014, Terminus is the leader of the account-based movement. We help our customers transform B2B marketing by focusing sales and marketing resources on the best-fit, most likely to buy segments of their addressable market. Our platform empowers marketing teams to easily build, operate, and measure scalable account-based initiatives that drive quality growth.
We partner with hundreds of marketing organizations at companies like Salesforce, GE, Verizon, 3M, and CA Technologies to provide the technology and expertise that produce exceptional results. Visit www.terminus.com to learn more or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.