Capturing product and category-level offline purchase data and tying it into online ad targeting to serve up display ads has not been easy. Google and others have been trying for years. But is ZIP+4 ad targeting the best the ad industry can do today? It gives advertisers the ability to pull in offline data based on ZIP codes plus the four-digit number that follows, narrowing down a user's geographic location.
For those wondering how it works: companies that match data to their ZIP+4 data, which identifies multiple households in a specific neighborhood like a city block or a group of apartments, can match offline purchase activity in grocery stores, for example, to online browsing to more closely target ads. That's about as close as brands can get today, said eXelate CEO Mark Zagorski.
"We need to be considerate about getting down to the individual level," he said. "ZIP+4 targeting provides great direction without becoming too invasive."
eXelate this week moved to support consumer products goods (CPG) companies in display ad targeting through a deal with Nielsen Catalina. Zagorski said the agreement pulls offline data into the company's online display ad-targeting platform.
The company had focused on automotive, finance and travel because there hasn't been a lot of opportunity for CPG companies.
"We don't do the matching or get any of that personally identifiable information, we just know when the browser is attached to someone in the offline world," Zagorski said. "We don't know the person or where they live, only that the matcher has told us they buy a lot of cereal."
When asked about mobile ad targeting, Zagorski said eXelate only supports display ads today. Mobile advertisers can target specific users, but the company has decided to hold off on mobile ad targeting because "it's fraught with privacy challenges." For now, eXelate plans to focus on the browser-level display space.
Zagorski said this ZIP+4 ad targeting will get very interesting when the model moves into Internet- protocol (IP) based television programming based on offline purchase activity. Think about P&G being able to target about 20 households in a specific area. The ad industry is much closer than some think.