Talking Ad Tech: Datonics’ Mike Benedek

Mike Benedek’s Datonics (formerly AlmondNet) is a leader in data aggregation, maintaining partnerships with advertising technology powerhouses like Traffiq, Turn and Interclick. Datonics uses proprietary behavioral purchase intent, search and life-stage data to help brands optimize campaigns and media buying. Mr. Benedek spoke with The Advertising Technology Review about his company’s approach to data and the Big Data hype machine.
What’s behind the sudden interest in Big Data in the non-trade press? How do we as an industry make Big Data seem less “scary” for the public and for brands seeking to move further into the online space?
One could adopt the view of the skeptic and say that “Big Data” is another buzzword popularized by PowerPoint-wielding, VC-fund seeking burgeoning tech firms.  I am sure that there is some of that,  but the reality is that data is being generated all of the time in all fields, and provided that it is handled appropriately, it can be used for good in such diverse fields as healthcare, education, traffic management, government, and yes, even advertising.  Regarding the brands, I believe most of them have been leveraging data for decision-making within their organizations for the longest time. The goal of our ecosystem should be to help them leverage what they already know to capitalize on and to take advantage of the data aggregation that we are undertaking for their benefit, and most importantly, for the benefit of their target consumers.

How does a company, such as yours, optimize data collection practices in an era when so much is on the line, regarding privacy, on the legal front?
That’s a great question. It is important to recognize that the consumer is king. Since our primary goal is to enable consumers to see relevant, privacy-sensitive ads wherever they go with appropriate notice and choice, we take a very proactive approach to privacy management.  We are members of the NAI and were spun out of AlmondNet, a company that pioneered the enhanced-notice concept before it was in vogue.

Great data powers the most attractive ads and apps for consumers. What’s the harm of “bad” data- and how do we avoid the proverbial “dumb pipe” of data overload?
This is a very broad topic as there are so many factors at play when it comes to targeting online ads. From a consumer perspective and from our perspective, even the best data, when used inappropriately or in an insensitive manner, might be seen as bad data. Of course, data alone does not define the consumer experience and even when the best data, however we define that, is used appropriately, it might still be perceived as bad when combined with poor creative, or when used in an inappropriate environment, or if it is overused.

Datonics works with many DMPs and DSPs- is all that data eventually going to create a new form of audience-buying/ campaign management platform as the line between DSPs, DMPs and Big Data mining companies begin to blur? If so, what might it look like?

While I’m not a fan of baseball or baseball analogies, I’m more a hockey fan, we are in the first inning of a very long and exciting game.  If you look at the offline data world you’ll see that there is room for many players in the market and that there are many variations of how data can be aggregated, classified, packaged, distributed, and sold.  I believe the same will apply in our ecosystem despite the dream of some to operate a one-stop-shop for all data and all data management needs. Without exposing our secret sauce or plans for the near-term and distant future, I’ll say that Datonics is focused on aggregating, classifying, and making available the highest quality, best performing, proprietary data sets to our entire ecosystem. This applies to our hundreds of pre-packaged segments covering all commercial categories, to our unlimited offering of custom keyword segments, to our growing life-stage data offering, and to everything else in our product pipeline.

Michael Benedek is the President and CEO of Datonics, which was recently spun off as a standalone company from AlmondNet. Benedek was most recently President of AlmondNet Data Division and joined AlmondNet in 2000 as Vice President, Business Development. His experience extends to over 15 years in the Internet, financial services and healthcare fields while based in New York and in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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