Originally published by Michael Burgi on Digiday.
Omnicom Media Group’s Annalect unit and Affinity Solutions have struck a partnership that lets the data and analytics unit managing Omnicom’s Omni operating and orchestration system/platform access Affinity’s massive warehouse of data solutions fueled by credit- and debit-card usage information.
The multiyear exclusive agreement essentially enables Omni to mainline data solutions from Affinity’s Panorama platform — which houses and analyzes near-real time credit- and debit card purchase information from about 90 million consumers through 3,000 banks — directly into its platform in a bid to more effectively measure outcomes for Omnicom clients. Annalect essentially manages and operates Omni’s operating system, which includes a database of 250 million consumers.
Though neither party would disclose the financial terms, the partnership gives Omnicom a first crack at Affinity’s purchase transactions and purchase-based media scoring ability, the latter of which Affinity Solutions CEO Jonathan Silver likened to “a FICO score for media,” specifically cross-channel media inventory. Essentially, Omnicom clients will be able to evaluate and optimize their marketing investments based on actual buyers and their level of spend across a range of ad categories. “This means being able to use deterministic data that’s very fresh — literally yesterday — to give advertisers the opportunity to make better decisions,” said Silver.
Until this deal, Omni was able to determine consumers’ propensity to purchase but didn’t have purchase data that spans all major areas, said Clarissa Season, Annalect’s global chief experience officer. “We knew that somebody might have bought Hidden Valley Ranch for our Clorox client, but we didn’t necessarily know where they bought it — Target, Costco, Albertsons or Gristede’s?” said Season. “So this data set for us really helps to fill in the picture of consumer purchases.”
It’s a step forward in media agencies’ efforts to uncover deterministic outcomes for their clients, said Season. “The reason for this partnership for us is really about better outcomes that are core to how we think about the Omni platform, which we built to provide better outcomes for our clients.” She added that can include better and more relevant ad experiences, which can lead to more purchases as well as finding better efficiencies.
Asked how this partnership stacks up against IPG’s ownership and use of Acxiom’s massive consumer database, Season pointed to a few differences. “Acxiom doesn’t have the same level of granularity as it relates to credit card data… Acxiom [has] more credit bureau data. So it doesn’t really get into the brands [consumers] are buying at the frequency of purchase,” she said.
Silver, who said he didn’t want to disparage another data competitor, pointed out that “most of Acxiom’s data is proxy data. We can bypass the proxy and go right to whether the people who are buying the product are in-market for your products and services.” He was quick to add, though, that Affinity’s data-set is fully anonymized and aggregated so as to protect consumer privacy.
Jay Pattisall, vp and global agency analyst with Forrester, said it’s the score that Affinity is creating that sets this deal apart from the data solutions the other holding companies can generate. “From a competitive standpoint, both IPG and Publicis leverage transactional data and audience scoring within their respective data technology offerings too. So the presence of purchase data as part of audience analysis is not unique,” said Pattisall. “But an audience score based upon media optimization and purchase patterns distinguishes Omni from other agency audience activation platforms.”
Why choose to work exclusively with Omnicom instead of sharing the data solutions with all the holding companies that might want access to Panorama? “It was the right decision for vision, for ease of integration and a desire to collaborate together and move quickly and in multiple ways,” said Silver. “There’s a lot that we’re doing with Omnicom to really differentiate the offering even ultimately when it becomes more available to [rest of] the industry.”