DataLinx helps business publishers take control of their data

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Autobytel Inc., a website that provides information to consumers to help in the car-buying process, consistently sells 100% of its online display ads, Kyle Pratt, senior director of corporate development, said. But monetizing the company's data has been a bigger challenge.

“When we sell data into an ad network blindly, our name gets stripped from it—which is something we insist on—but at the same time [the data] gets mixed in with dozens of other cookies. Some of them perform well; some do not. I know my traffic performs very well.”

He added: “My cookie is nothing but a reflection of my audience, so when I contribute to an anonymous [ad] pool, I'm telling someone that's the same [data] as everyone else, which is not the case.”

Autobytel is starting to make a more compelling case with its customers (and prospects) about the value of its data, thanks to DataLinx, a data management platform that enables publishers and data owners to manage access to their data. The software was officially launched late last month by technology company eXelate Inc.

The proprietary platform is designed to tackle a problem plaguing many business publishers amid the digital onslaught: how to get their hands around all their data and make sure they are monetizing the data effectively.

DataLinx first collects the data into one depository, then segments the data by customers' purchasing intent. A key component of DataLinx is its DataShield feature, which helps publishers understand exactly who is dropping “pixels” onto their media properties.

“Many of these third-party pixels that show up in DataShield are good things, allowable and properties that publishers want to be on their sites,” said Damian Garbaccio, senior VP-audience development for eXelate, which works with almost 200 publishers and marketers and reaches more than 200 million unique users in the U.S. “Additionally, there are pixels showing up that the publisher is not aware of, so publishers can identify and protect what's on their sites.”

He added: “There's no silver bullet for any of this stuff, [but] publishers have generally overlooked a lot of the value on their data.”

Since Autobytel started using DataLinx in January, data revenue has increased “significantly,” Pratt said, although he would not be more specific. Autobytel has subsequently scaled back the use of ad networks to sell its data directly, he said.

“Our data business was previously a line on a page. Now as the business grows, I definitely see our data business growing with it,” Pratt said. DataLinx “allows publishers like me to take control of their [data] strategies through direct sales.”

Tthe ability to sell data directly to customers—rather than anonymously and at lower rates via ad networks and others—is also creating new opportunities with buyers, he said.

“They know that I can sell my data direct and are not going to these [ad] pools and buying up all their cookies they can get their hands on,” Pratt said. “That drives up the value of my data and drives up the relationships and partnerships that I can strike with.

It's been a fundamental change in the way we conduct our data business.”

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