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Member Viewpoint: eXelate

An Interview with Mark Zagorski, Chief Executive Officer, eXelate

Q: What does eXelate do?A: eXelate powers smarter digital marketing decisions by offering access to accurate, actionable, and agile data as well as insights into online household demographics, purchase intent, and browsing habits.  

Q: How long have you been an NAI member? What prompted you to join? 

A: eXelate has been an NAI member since 2009, and we have always felt that it’s critically important for us to not only meet but exceed industry standards for consumer privacy and compliance.

Q: What role do you see responsible third-party data companies playing in the year ahead in the overall evolution of the online advertising ecosystem?

A: The third-party data business is fueling the evolution of marketing. It’s how data has been made actionable in real-time, helping marketers achieve better business outcomes in the digital realm. 

In the year ahead, I believe we’ll see a small handful of major players in the data industry attempt to own the “digital identities” of consumers who interact with their platforms. On the one hand, this could be beneficial, but it also means that these entities could keep this information to themselves. Without the independent access to consumer insights provided by responsible third parties, we could be heading toward a disjointed, walled-garden effect – one that is very different than the promise of a free and open internet. We strongly believe that a world in which independent cookie+ technology is provided by trusted third-party data partners creates an environment that is more conducive to innovation.

Q: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have of third-party data providers?

A: I think the name itself – third-party data – is misleading. Third-party data is not mysterious information that evolves from the nether regions. For the most part, true purveyors of third-party data capture it directly from first-party sites, directly measurable panels, or even compile direct transactional data from retailers themselves. There is also a misconception that it’s not needed, but in reality, it is an essential component of building reach because it enables marketers to attract new customers. The third big myth is that third-party data is less reliable or less accurate than first-party data. However, the best third-party data is subjected to rigorous validation standards established by objective, blue-ribbon rating companies such as Nielsen and comScore. 

Q: How has the privacy landscape changed since you have been part of the NAI, and how have you adapted?

A: Privacy has always been important, even if it has only recently become part of the mainstream dialogue. Consumers are embracing the internet and mobility, and for the most part, they understand there are trade offs for the free-content, ad-supported internet that they enjoy today. But discussions around the NSA and the “What They Know” series, among others, have created fear and confusion. Now more than ever, privacy can no longer be an afterthought. With savvier consumers so tuned into the conversation, privacy must be at the forefront of everything we do. eXelate has adapted by making sure that we go above and beyond industry standards. We strive to be two years ahead, and our NAI membership is part of this goal. We see membership as not only a smart business practice, but as a competitive advantage.

Q: What do you see as the next big challenge for the data industry?

A: The next big data challenge will be managing consumer privacy and trust in a world where more people are using multiple devices more often. There are different rules of engagement across platforms, and yet consumers expect seamless experiences while companies maintain their data privacy preferences across the board. We are currently tackling these questions, and we imagine many NAI members are as well as we shape the evolution of our businesses and policies.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Network Advertising Initiative and/or any other contributor to this site.

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