March 21, 2013, 11:17 AM

ValueClick focuses on personalized display advertising

The digital marketing company says it plans to integrate its disparate technologies this year.

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Digital marketing company ValueClick Inc. is in the midst of shifting its business strategy to focus on delivering more personalized online ads.

The vendor, which had been focused on building out its product offerings, is now working on integrating its marketing tools and connecting them to its vast stores of data—including more than 200 million unique consumer profiles it stores monthly, the company told investors at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference last month. That will allow ValueClick to deepen the personalization tools it can offer advertisers across all devices, he said.

“We are pivoting from a history of lots of acquisitions, running our businesses somewhat independently, to really running them more holistically,” said CEO John Giuliani. “With the last two acquisitions of Dotomi and Greystripe Mobile, we really have a full suite of products.” ValueClick purchased both display advertising company Dotomi, which Giulani previously led as CEO, and mobile marketing provider Greystripe Mobile in 2011.

Giulani says the company’s goal is to leverage “the most prolific individual profiles that are actionable in the industry” so that marketers can deliver extremely personalized and targeted advertising to consumers in all types of media. ValueClick uses data from customers’ web activity and purchasing histories with retailers both online and offline to market to them based on their habits, he said. That differs from other marketing technologies that target customers using narrower information, for example sending a customer an ad for printer cartridges because she just bought a printer from a competitor, he said.

“I don't want to tell one retailer, ‘This is the customer from the other retailer,’” Giulani said. “That doesn't help my customers. What does help them is if I can connect them to the consumer because of my deep knowledge and let them talk more effectively to them.” The company does that by leveraging what it knows about individual consumers, including how much they typically spend on specific types of items, where they spend it, what types of media they respond to and when, he said.

ValueClick is still in the early stages of getting to that point, he said last month during a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s fourth quarter results. It began this year by consolidating its operations and reorganizing staff in its major offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Southern California. Soon the company’s media division, which includes the goCart advertising platform for retailers, its consumer database, the BluePin optimization engine and analytics services, will be fully operational as a single group, he says. “Getting our internal organization aligned is the starting point,” he said. “But it's going to be a series of steps.”

ValueClick stands out from competitors in the way it uses data and its ability to scale well, says Carter Malloy, managing director of Internet and I.T. services research at Stephens Inc., an investment banking and wealth management firm. For example, larger retailers could maintain as good a rate of return spending $1 million on personalized display ads with the vendor as they would spending just $50,000, a feat that’s difficult considering how many more consumers the bigger campaign must target accurately to maintain its effectiveness, Malloy says.

ValueClick is the parent company of affiliate marketing company Commission Junction, which 208 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and 83 in the Second 500 Guide use to market on sites other than their own. Commission Junction ranks first among affiliate marketing providers in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 E-Retailers guide.

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