Dentists, dry cleaners and other local business owners want the same search and ad targeting platforms as national brands and retailers, but can't reach that goal due to complicated systems and lack of technology. Not yet, anyway.
eXelate has begun to research long-tail services that would provide local businesses with an automated self-serve audience targeting and modeling systems. The platform, and others like it, would allow local retail and service companies to input information to build custom audience segments. "I'm a dentist that works at this location who specializes in braces; build an audience block for me," said Mark Zagorski, CEO at eXelate. "We want to achieve that goal."
Zagorski said companies like TruSignal, which develops custom offline models, will allow eXelate to offer full funnel targeting. The partnership between eXelate and TruSignal, announced Wednesday,provides online advertisers and their interactive agencies a more precise way to target consumers. The audience segments include insurance and financial services, education and political affiliation and donors.
The methods used for larger brands are similar to those needed for local companies, but technologists need to redesign and develop the interface and the technologies for smaller businesses. The algorithms still need to process the data and the attributes, but the challenge becomes simultaneously scaling hundreds of thousands of long-tail audience segment models.
Today the company builds tens of hundreds of models. But it not only requires model-building skills, it takes processing power. Education will also become a priority. Zagorski said small companies and individual professionals will need to become educated on ad targeting and online and offline cross-channel advertising and marketing.
The first stage becomes developing easy to use online display ad tools, allowing small businesses to access inventory and build creative pieces. AdReady and others already support these tools, Zagorski said. Then companies like eXelate will need to create to size targeting and modeling tools.
Big brands have begun to get it. Smaller companies will come next. It all trickles down. An increase in mobile use by consumers to find local services will also fuel the transformation.
Research, however, reveals the trickle as a slight drip. More than half of America’s retailers miss opportunities to connect online with offline shopping and service experiences, according to a study released Tuesday by ExactTarget. Forget about sophisticated ad targeting techniques; research found only 44% of brick-and-mortar stores connect with shoppers post-purchase via email and of those only 5% personalize emails based on in-store purchase.