Commerce Signals and LiveRamp Partner to Create a Sales Data Yardstick

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Big data is old news, even if it is sales data. But what gets done with data — especially in real-time — can tell a story that marketers need to hear.

Data firm Commerce Signals has put together a new partnership with LiveRamp, an Acxiom company that provides identity resolution, to make data more valuable to merchants and advertisers.

The two companies today announced their collaboration, which draws upon sales data from banks and financial networks to enable marketing measurement and optimization across digital publishers and devices. Tom Noyes, CEO of Commerce Signals, says though plenty of data has been available for some time, it must be put into context, within a useful timeframe, to matter to marketers. “Consistent omnichannel measurement is really hard to achieve,” he says.

Through this partnership, Commerce Signals ties transaction data from banks and financial networks with IDs from LiveRamp, to produce an aggregate measurement of consumer spending behavior. It links information that publishers already have to data the financial services possess, Noyes says. That gives advertisers, agency, and brands a common yardstick to consistently measure performance across multiple publishers.

Armed with transaction data, which may be available same day or the next, marketers can quickly adjust their campaigns accordingly, Noyes says. “This is real consumer behavior, not proxy data sets.”

It took a bit of effort and discussion with financial networks to get a hold of sales data and use it this way, he says. Banks and their peers always had this information, Noyes says, but maintaining consumer privacy posed a challenge—especially when a third party from the advertising world wanted access. Taking the data as an aggregate measure, he says, preserves consumers’ anonymity while giving merchants a way to see how people spend their money.

LiveRamp, which provides data about people to marketers, is the connective tissue across many digital publishers, especially mobile, Noyes says. The idea is to take the LiveRamp IDs that publishers have associated with customers over a campaign, present them in formats that financial service companies such as Visa can make sense of, and ask for an aggregate look at sales data for say 100,000 people at any one retailer.

The ability to understand the effectiveness of a campaign, by comparing it to transaction data, within a short timeframe is a breakthrough, says Dan Buckstaff, head of partner marketing for LiveRamp. The partnership, he says, is a way to put an end to marketers flying blind while running campaigns. “Every marketer needs to have that immediate feedback,” he says. “That’s a gap in the marketplace today.”

Understanding when and where people spend their money in near real-time represents a fundamental shift in how measurement is done in the ad industry, Noyes says. Historically the risk of buying advertising rested on the buyer. That is changing with companies such as Google, Facebook, and CBS making guaranteed commitments on the sales that advertising with them will generate.

“What advertisers want is not to pay by click or impression,” Noyes says, “but by the sales they generate.”

It has taken time for all parties involved to get to this point. Some financial institutions, for example, operated under an assumption that marketers would be naturally inclined to seek out data from them. In practice, that was not always the case. “Even a bank as large as Bank of America is only 10 percent of the US population,” Noyes says. “Their data is not unique enough to make every advertiser want to buy that directly.”

Furthermore, he says that bank data is only valuable if it plays against other information that shows merchants what works and what does not. With the right combination of data and identification, a small merchant can measure the effectiveness of their advertising at a scale that the large merchants can, Noyes says. “Transaction data is becoming the key by which ads are bought and sold, as well as the key by which they are optimized against.”

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.