Experian’s Audience Engine: real people, not cookies

Experian Marketing Services today added an audience management platform, the Audience Engine, to its suite of marketing automation solutions. The new offering is a unified, automated platform for targeting, execution and measurement of addressable advertising campaigns, designed to build refined audience segments, and at the same time identify the optimum channels for reaching them.

In a demo for The Hub, Brienna Pinnow, Experian’s Product Lead for Addressable Marketing, showed how to create audience segments based on Experian data, plus a drop-down list of the client’s first party data. Second and third party data can be imported to the pool, but one strong selling point–as in all Experian’s offerings–is its proprietary data set representing over 600 million profiles drawn from its history as a credit services vendor. “We’re mastering the linkage of real people-based data and making it actionable across all channels,” Pinnow told me. Users can build segments on a foundation of 85 percent of the US population.

As Pinnow expresses it, these are “real people, not cookies,” differentiating Experian’s audience management approach from competitors who rely primarily on profiles created from web browsing histories along with other behavioral data.

Segments can be defined by selecting demographic and other attributes, refined using Boolean logic, saved, and deployed as launch-pads for campaigns. Experian has been using the tool internally for about a year–“We/ve been eating our own dog food,” Pinnow said–and selected media partners are already using the platform (more than 70 brands have already used it for addressable TV campaigns). “We’re now opening the gates,” said Pinnow, “to advertisers and agencies.”

Once a segment is defined, Audience Engine answers the question “where are these people?” with an instantaneous display of the segment’s distribution across media partner channels including Facebook, MSN, Yahoo! and AoL, email and television channels, as well as a large number of media channels which still use cookies to identify audience members.

Pinnow admits “Media buys don’t actually happen here”–i.e. within Audience Engine. Once the segment is packaged, a “Distribute” button can send it to the media partner(s) of choice; it can also be distributed to DMPs/DSPs, or –if necessary–to channels outside the Audience Engine universe. Although campaign content is generated elsewhere, Pinnow pointed out that Audience Engine makes it easy to share segment characteristics with creative partners.

Marketing Services President Matt Seeley told me last August: “The advent of addressable TV changes a lot about how you think about TV. It’s early days, but smart clients are demanding this. It’s not just an audience reach game any more.” Audience Engine takes big steps towards omnichannel–and not just TV–addressability.

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