Getting Rid Of The Noise In Data: Q&A With A4's Hamid Qayyum

Hamid Qayyum, head of strategic partnerships at a4, is a data and media veteran, starting his career at ratings upstart erinMedia back in the 1990s. He is currently charged with taking all the data and media that is gathered from Altice and other data partnerships and acquisitions and using it to supercharge a4’s local and national sales efforts. 

Qayyum works with brands, agencies and supply partners “to facilitate our ability to deliver advertising effectively across all devices that consume media,” for the a4 universe of 92 million optimized linear TV households and 65 million IP addressable households. 

Charlene Weisler: You have worked for companies who very early on were working with data in very creative ways. How has the data landscape changed since the 1990s?

Hamid Qayyum: Data collection is far easier now. As the world becomes more digital, there is better data and as the TV world becomes more IP, we have access to more data. But on the flip side, we have to be more careful with how we treat that data – with more privacy and making sure that we are good caretakers of people’s profiles and habits….From the media advertising perspective, we can do a better job of understanding what a consumer wants and delivering it to the consumer who wants it. 



Weisler: Talking about privacy and GDPR, how do you see this impacting the U.S.?

Qayyum: Some industries will be greatly impacted by GDPR more than it will impact us because have already taken steps to be ahead of the curve and be GDPR-compliant — or better. We don’t scrape data. There are a lot of companies that will scrape the bid stream and say ‘We have an IP address that we can target’ but we don’t do anything like that. That data is not really authenticated.  We authenticate everything in a privacy compliant manner.  

Weisler: What are the different datasets that you use?

Qayyum: One of the advantages we have is that we are part of Altice USA, which is a very large marketer. We work very closely with the Altice marketing team to facilitate their marketing efforts. 

We also use the data that is used for marketing Altice’s products to better serve our strategic marketing partners from demographics to lifestyle to purchase habits to all of the viewership statistics — some of it is proprietary and some is acquired — as well as IP data. We have created a data warehouse that we can use for our national partners, brands and agencies. We also have a lot of political data, unique viewership data sets and have created a range of proprietary segments. 

Weisler: Altice was Cablevision. So this is Cablevision data?

Qayyum: We also have Suddenlink in addition to Cablevision, plus data we acquire and data we receive through partnerships.

Weisler: What about the impact of the new technology – ATSC 3.0 and 5G?

Qayyum: The way we look at it from our side of the business, the more bandwidth you have, the more you will consume that bandwidth on more devices in the home. That is why we like the IP targeting aspect of our business, because consumers will consume more outside of just watching the television, whether through OTT or some other mechanism of content delivery. 

That bandwidth has a couple of uses. One is driving the streaming part of the business and the other is driving the gaming part of the business. 

Everyone wants low latency in gaming. We are making huge headway in CTV and OTT with new offerings that leverage our IP targeting technology to deliver the next generation of addressable television. We have partnered with AT&T to cover the linear part of the addressable business to make a national footprint but also have the future of addressable through OTT and CTV where we leverage the IP targeting technology incorporated in our system to create a true multiscreen addressable solution.

Weisler: Can you de-duplicate your data?

Qayyum: Yes. We partner with various companies such as LiveRamp and Experian for data matching, etc. and we have a superb data team here internally that warehouses it and does the deduping. We then make it available to our customers for media buying through our platform, Athena. 

Weisler: What are some of the critical issues that the media industry faces now?

Qayyum: First, there is a lot of noise out there: What companies say they can do vs. what they can actually do. There are privacy regulations but data is still in the “wild West” phase of evolution.  It would be great to have something that assigns a value to the data you have. People say, “here is the value of my data” — and that data may be wrong or improperly collected and there is no real way to say that this data is pure, authentic or good. 

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