DataXu Gets Creative, Acquires JasperLabs

DataXu, a demand-side platform (DSP), on Thursday announced it has acquired JasperLabs, a San Francisco-based provider of “dynamic creative optimization” software.

“Dynamic creative optimization” looks like a daunting mouthful, but it’s actually relatively simple to explain. Mike Baker, CEO of DataXu, told RTM Daily that it allows marketers to change the creative message in an ad based on a conditional event.

It’s similar to retargeting, but Baker said “dynamic creative” allows marketers to change the creative based on a variety of events, not just browser behavior. For example, location, weather, and time of day can all be used to change an ad's creative in real-time.

In other words, this is the “right message” portion of the “right person, right time, right message” cliché.

“It’s a technique that’s been popularized by e-commerce companies and retargeters,” Baker said. “Our research has always shown -- and you don’t need a data scientist to tell you this -- that the creative message is as important as anything.”

Baker said DataXu works with a variety of third-party “dynamic creative optimization” software providers -- and will continue to do so -- but said JasperLabs has stuck out.

The two companies have worked together for over a year, and Baker said JasperLabs had a hand in a “number” of successful campaigns DataXu ran for clients. He also believes its software integrates well with DataXu’s tech.

“JasperLabs has a flexibility to it that’s a good fit for the flexibility DataXu's platform,” he added. Baker said DataXu’s clients tend to be big brands and agencies which often require customized campaigns, such as ones that can run in multiple countries. JasperLabs’ tech can help them in that regard.

In addition, JasperLabs’ tech will work across multiple screens and channels, Baker claimed. JasperLabs is compatible with desktop and mobile, both for display ads and in-stream video.

“We really believe the future is multichannel,” Baker said.

So how does it all work? The content itself still needs to be created by somebody, but Baker sees an easy way for brands and agencies to produce multiple creatives using data they already have.

“[What's needed] is already in the content management systems the brand uses,” he said. “Because they already have the digital assets -- pictures of the product, copy from a certain campaign -- our tech can ‘talk’ to those content management systems and just pull the appropriate assets out.”

Baker said many agencies the company works with only provide one piece of creative when running a campaign. As DataXu handles creative decisions when buying ads -- it doesn't make the creative, but it does decide which creative gets shown -- Baker hopes giving marketers the ability to use "dynamic creative" will give DataXu more options to work with when running campaigns.

Plus, he claimed, the more creative options, the better the campaign will be.

“If you come up with two concepts instead of one, your results will go up at least 10%,” he asserted. “You just start to learn the patterns of which creative works better with which consumer in certain contexts.”

He added: “What’s really ironic and missing in programmatic is that we have no choice over the ad copy [if there’s only one option]. If we pay exactly the right price, for exactly the right person, but the ad itself is ineffective, the overall ad is wasted.”

The JasperLabs brand will be discontinued. However, Baker said DataXu is retaining the company's staff and will place them in product management and engineering roles. DataXu is a Boston-based company, but Baker said they have a “thriving West Coast presence,” particularly in San Francisco.

“It has not been the center of development for us, but it’s one of our most important locations,” he said.

He called "dynamic creative" a “rich area that has been under-developed,” and said the demand for better creative has picked up. He hinted that the JasperLabs acquisition will not be DataXu's only play to up its creative game.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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