New online data company BlueKai strives for quality, privacy

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A new online data exchange, BlueKai, has launched with a mission to respect consumer privacy while providing targeted intent data.

BlueKai partners with data sellers to gather anonymous shopping and research information, which it then auctions to advertisers, ad networks and publishers looking to place more targeted ads. The company focuses on selling intent data, including searches and product comparisons for particular goods and services.

"Intent data outperforms non-intent data by a very large margin, which means people pay for it, so we focus primarily on the highest quality data that is not as easy to get hold of," said Omar Tawakol, CEO of BlueKai.

“We like BlueKai because it gives us access to a large amount of data that is segmented for very attractive advertising categories,” added Jason Glickman, CEO of online video ad network Tremor, which is currently using BlueKai in beta tests. “It makes our process more intelligent, so we can recognize whether users are relevant. It gives us more insight into the current user base, which lets us go back to our current advertisers with a much more interesting story.”

To allay consumer concerns about privacy, BlueKai allows people in its database to see the information that has been collected on them. Consumers are also allowed to opt out of the BlueKai database or edit their online preferences for better-targeted ads.

"If you look at the direct marketing business, it's been decades of collecting data without asking or involving the customer," Tawakol noted. "But those days are gone. Consumers are more aware, expect to know more and are empowered. Our approach is to move out of the shadows, and maybe they'll be less fearful of how data are used and gathered."

Data sellers working with BlueKai include Web sites in broad industry categories such as auto, travel and retail.

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