Jonathan Lakin of Intent HQ: why a cookie-free approach to online targeting offers a better deal to publishers

Intent-HQ_JonathanLakin-1-500x261There is a growing controversy over the quality of audiences delivered by automated ad exchanges, with large-scale fraud emerging as a worrying issue. Jonathan Lakin (left) of Intent HQ explains why his company’s cookie-free approach supplies more accurate and useful information.

1. There are an increasing number of online targeting companies and offers around. What makes Intent HQ unique?

There are none that we know of who do consumer data science – using artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing – to understand a person in the degree of depth we do – from the perspective both of their core preferences and of their core affinities – to form a perspective of their intent at any moment in time. It’s that, combined with Intent’s unique map of the world and the ability to understand how everything in the world is connected to everything else that differentiates us.

This means that when we see someone’s interests, we know what those interests are connected to and why that’s important to that person. With this information we can create not only very granular profiles of an individual, but also the ability to find the hidden relationships and the hidden affinities within that data, allowing you to be much more personal and targeted to that individual.

2. You say that Intent’s offer is not based on cookies. What is the advantage of this? Is it a privacy issue?

Cookies primary raison d’etre is about identification. The secondary raison d’etre is to carry some piece of information that is usually contextless. All of the context that sits around any piece of information isn’t captured in a cookie, they only provide snapshots of people’s activity at a moment in time, rather than relating that to anything else. This means the level of accuracy or understanding you can get based on someone’s cookies is incredibly poor. So poor in fact that some of the ad networks are saying that third party data cookies offer almost no material return compared to a random sample.

The second advantage of Intent HQ’s offer is that we are not sharing someone’s data between parties.

3. Intent’s customers are mostly publishers. Are your products also relevant for advertisers and agencies?

Yes, our products are highly relevant to both advertisers and agencies. We are in the process of putting together a live panel of UK customers to obtain a very clear understanding of people’s interests, preferences and tastes for brands and agencies.

4. How do your products help publishers avoid what we might call the ‘real time lowest price’ world of automated ad exchanges?

The first thing our products do is add or inject into the ad stream data keywords about a person’s specific interests and intent at that time. That means that the publishers can move from selling media with little context to it being highly relevant to the advertiser. The publishers can then make a much higher CPM, and the benefit to the advertiser is a better return on their advertising spend.

5. There seems to be a trend on the part of the big players – from Google and Microsoft to WPP – to create their own proprietary data sources. Is it getting harder to compete with these giants? Is the only realistic option for Intent to sell to one of them?

There are increasing walled gardens of first party data where the benefits of sharing between parties are high. Is it getting harder to compete with these giants? No, because most of these operate in a very specific and traditional way using cookie-based data. Our offer does not do this. That is our value innovation and we’ve invested heavily to create a step-change in the market to provide something unique. Our understanding from speaking directly to some of those agencies is they would very much like to use our data.

With regard to the final question, the answer is: no, absolutely not. Our platform has a wide range of areas and functionality and there are multiple types of customers and opportunities for Intent HQ to really think about the core base of consumer data science across multiple industries.

Jonathan Lakin is CEO of British-based audience intelligence and insight company Intent HQ.

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