Q&A with eXelate's Jim Hackett

Jim Hackett, VP of Tech Operations for eXelate, started in the backend / web development area of the financial industry before moving into the advertising sector in a range of tech start-ups. At eXelate, he is responsible for technology implementation, including the creation of segments that power programmatic buying platforms using disparate data sets. One could say that eXelate is the data power behind programmatic decision-making and that Hackett is the great mind behind that power. I might add that he is a graduate of my alma mater, SUNY Binghamton.

In this fascinating interview, Hackett talks about eXelate and the role it plays in the media industry, the data ecosystem, how segmentation works and how the media landscape is evolving over the next few years. 

There are four videos in the interview:

Subject                                                 Length (in minutes)
Background                                                       (4:18)
What is eXelate?                                              (6:23)
Segments                                                           (5:33)
Predictions                                                         (6:38)

Charlene Weisler interviews Jim Hackett, VP of Tech Operations for eXelate who talks about his background in this 4:18 minute video:

CW: Tell me about eXelate.

JH: eXelate is the leading independent data platform and we provide marketers with the insights and massive reach needed to more effectively engage consumers.  Our data management platform, maX DMP, which is fueled by our eXchange, gives marketers the ability to manage, model, mobilize and measure their first-party data across video, mobile, and display channels.  The eXchange, which is the largest pool of directly measured consumer data that I’ll be talking more about, reaches two billion active consumers worldwide and includes key online and offline purchasing touch points.

eXelate’s data exchange for online advertising works with hundreds of online publishers to gather behavioral information about users. We package this information into segments and our larger ones are around travel, auto purchase, and shopping information. We also have demographic segments.

We also have a very mature modeling system where, if we are given a signal around any type of event that we are getting from data providers, we can take that signal and map it across our entire data universe to come up with a model that would say that people with these other attributes are very like this attribute. So, we are able to model out panel audiences that are provided to us by other data providers and still maintain data privacy.

CW: How do you fit into Programmatic?

JH: We are a bit unique in the industry because we don’t actually run any media. We don’t manage campaigns. We don’t drive campaigns or conversion metrics. We provide data that allows those campaigns to run more effectively. 

"What is eXelate?" Jim Hackett explains this to Charlene Weisler in the 6:23 minute video:

CW: Do you have standard segments? Do you create custom segments? How does the process work?

JH: We have both. We have a standard taxonomy that is broken out into three major categories – demographic, interest and intent. If you think of it from a visual perspective, it is like a funnel – everyone has a demographic, generally people have interests and then certain people have intent to do something. In the demographic area, we have things like age, gender, income level, career, job types – that sort of thing. In interests, we have things like auto owners like “I own a Nissan”. In intent, we have things like “in market to purchase a Nissan”. It is a similar concept for things like CPG products, where there are products that you might be more interested in or you are a general consumer of those types of products, as compared to something like “Today, I want to buy an iPhone”. That is where it parses out with intent. All of this is on the syndicated side – the eXelate exchange side. The taxonomy changes but not that frequently. There might be a few updates here and there on a monthly basis. But, we like to keep it consistent because it makes it easier for people who are targeting the segments to understand what they look like. If we make too many changes, it will be hard for them to track over time.

We also allow branded partners to create their own categories for whatever purpose they want. Examples of that might be for Nielsen or Mastercard, where those segments are defined directly by them. They know who their advertising audience is and how they are looking to buy. They have very specific naming conventions and they know what their segments look like.  Outside of all of this, we have the ability to create any custom segment that an advertiser would like. What people have the ability to do is the ability to combine our segments inside the advertising platform that they are integrated with. On the branded side, one thing we have seen over the past year or so is that those brands have the ability to create very customized segments for some very specific advertisers and push those to specific platforms only for that advertiser. So, we have the ability to do all of that but definitely on the custom side we are seeing more on the branded side than on the exchange side.

Charlene Weisler interviews Jim Hackett, of eXelate who talks about segmentations in this 5:33 minute video:

CW: The word “platform” has different meanings depending on where we are. What is your definition of platform?

JH: For us a platform is anywhere where we push data and the data can be analyzed for a media buy. So the platforms that we push our data into are advertising exchanges such as Google Adx but we are also integrated with essentially all of the DSPs or the SSPs.

CW: How do you think connected TVs will impact your business?

JH: We are currently integrating with mobile and the way we define our integration there is cross platform. So we are not focused on mobile, per sey. We are building out a cross platform capability and mobile happens to be the first. Things are become more and more digital and it is already happening in TV. A few months ago I met with Visible World. What they are doing with the RTB of TV is very interesting.    

In this final video, Jim Hackett talks about how the media industry will trend over the next few years and offers some predictions to Charlene Weisler. The video is 6:38 minutes:

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