There's An Algorithm For That

“There’s an app for that,” something Apple filed to trademark in December 2009, is a humorous yet accurate way to describe the random wants of smartphone wielders.

When it comes to the online world, “there’s an algorithm for that” is becoming applicable to the random wants of online advertisers.

Okay -- so it’s not exactly fair to call all wants of online advertisers “random.” Take fraud, for example -- a legitimate issue that is best dealt with before it occurs because, well, any time after that and it's too late. You wouldn’t want to find out about potholes in the road only after driving over them, would you?

That’s the approach Versium, a Washington-based data technology and “predictive analytics” company, is taking. The company on Tuesday announced the launch of its Predictive Fraud Score solution, which is meant to help companies find fraudsters looking to steal consumer identities.

“It allows a company to be proactive versus reactive,” stated Chris Matty, Versium CEO.

Proaction versus reaction. Isn’t that the general concept that gave birth to real-time bidding (RTB)?

What Versium is doing for financial services and ecommerce companies, others are doing for advertisers in the RTB space. Some have started to only trade in-view ads, while others, like Integral, have begun to integrate real-time fraud prevention technology into ad exchanges. It’s all in the name of doing it better the “first” time.

But why stop there? A few months ago, Fast Company Labs wrote a story about a company with a predictive algorithm of its own, Growth Science, which purpotedly predicts whether or not startups will fail.

I’m of the belief that the term “predictive analytics” is oxymoronic. I’m okay with “predictive modeling,” because I think creating models is the best you can do when peering into a crystal ball.

Maybe that’s why Jeff Sporn, SVP and general manager of digital solutions of IXI Services, told RTM Daily last month that it makes him laugh when people talk about algorithms like they are a “magical elixir.”

“There’s nothing new about [algorithms],” Sporn said then.

That’s true -- but there is something about new algorithms. And as predictive models improve, so too will the overall flow of advertising, especially in an online space that is so eager to be one step ahead of consumers instead of one step behind.

"Math" photo from Shutterstock.

3 comments about "There's An Algorithm For That".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, February 18, 2014 at 11:35 a.m.

    Don't see how Versium's analytics can possibly, "Detect fraud with as little as an email address" (their site). We all know that many accounts are compromised, and that this is rarely announced immediately, giving fraudsters a window. How does Versium know who is in control of an email address before the compromise is announced?

  2. Chris Matty from VERSIUM, February 18, 2014 at 2:26 p.m.

    I quite agree there are no new algorithms. What Versium leverages is new and unique data contained in our LifeData platform. We have the ability to apply existing modeling techniques to over 300B unique data attribute. This includes over 4B email addresses. To be clear, our fraud score is not designed to address all fraud scenarios. Specifically its not designed to prevent fraud where an individual's email address has been hijacked. It does work extremely well if a stolen credit card or other identity details are used to fraudulently purchase goods or perpetrate other types of fraud.

  3. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 18, 2014 at 2:53 p.m.

    To paraphrase Yogi Berra: What's the algorithm du jour? I don't know, but they got it every day!

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