With entries open for October’s inaugural International Performance Marketing Awards (IPMAs), this series looks back at the winners of the Awards’ UK ceremony in April, gathering insight into the mechanics and inspiration behind the industry’s newly-decorated campaigns and companies.

Today, we’re talking to Toby Benjamin, vice president UK of Viant, this year’s winner of the Best Performance Marketing Technology award for its Advertising Cloud at the Performance Marketing Awards 2017.

First of all, let’s have a recap. Could you give us a quick overview of the technology that won you an Award?

Toby Benjamin: By offering a first-party database of 24.5 million users, which is up to date, accurate and boosted by data partnerships, Viant’s Advertising Cloud offers the unrivalled ability to target real users, accurately, across multiple devices whilst connecting the online-offline worlds. It offers a viable alternative approach to the traditional cookie-based marketing approach.

What is it about this technology that’s pushing boundaries within performance marketing?

TB: Most digital advertising is poorly targeted and still relies on a 20-year-old technology: cookies.

Viant’s technology allows performance marketers to target individuals like never before with its people-based marketing approach. It has a vast database of 24.5 million users in the UK which allows marketers to reach real people, on any device, and track the effectiveness of online marketing in driving both online and offline sales.

Could you touch on the process of how the idea was arrived at and built into a complete product?

TB: For more than a decade now, marketers have relied on cookies to link the same consumer across multiple devices. But in a world where 75% of cookies are deleted every month and two-thirds of IP-connected devices don’t accept cookies, marketers were telling us that this approach was no longer fit for purpose. In fact when we surveyed brand-side digital marketers, over half – or 53% – said the cookie will be obsolete in the next 12 months.

People-based advertising arose from this cross-device challenge by providing brands with real, first-party data from actual people, allowing marketers to deliver personalised customer experiences across TV, digital, and print. We combined our own first-party data with data from third-party partnerships such as the RAC and Epsilon, to give marketers access to our vast database of individuals. With insights such as where customers get their morning coffee, what car they drive, and what properties they own, people-based advertising now helps brands connect with real people, across all of their devices.

What are the biggest day-to-day challenges faced by the people-based marketing approach?

TB: Getting the right first-party data is the biggest challenge faced by marketers when trying to implement a people-based approach. Without real data about people such as their age, email address, shopping habits, car ownership etc. it’s impossible to create an accurate picture of them beyond simple online behaviours.

We have a vast database of 24.5 million users in the UK that has the three things we believe are vital for an effective people-based marketing approach – scale, accuracy and density.

Our 24.5 million users in the UK make up half the online adult population and it’s refreshed constantly. Using customer login information we are also able to build a clear picture about the devices a person owns to allow true cross-device targeting. Our exclusive partnerships with companies such as the RAC, Experian and Epsilon help us build a rich picture of an individual, bolstering the details held in a brand’s existing CRM [Customer Relationship Management] system – such as the type of car they drive or the retailers they’ve recently visited. This also allows marketers to track ROI [Return on Investment] in online and offline sales.

If you could improve the product, what would you do?

TB: We’re always working to improve our technology further. In 2017, we have three clear paths – firstly, we plan to announce more partnerships with data companies to bolster our consumer insight even further, and provide even greater scale to marketers. Secondly, we will further enable marketers to access this data in the manner they increasingly desire – programmatically and via a self-service model – something our recent acquisition of the Adelphic DSP [Demand Side Platform] now enables. Finally, we are focused on enhancing advertisers understanding of causation and digital campaign impact by expanding our Data Analytics Platform to offer full multi-touch attribution models vs. the traditional last or first touch ones which can often provide a misleading and narrow view.

Finally, what for you is the most exciting trend or development in performance marketing right now?

TB: This year we’ll see personalisation come into its own. Marketers have only scratched the surface in terms of their ability to personalise ads not just to the individual, but in adapting which device they’re shown on, in what order and adapting content accordingly. As marketers improve their ability to use multiple data sources to build data into their campaign targeting, we’ll see more relevant and personalised delivery.

Entries for the International Performance Marketing Awards close July 4. Download the entry pack for more insight into the regional and channel-based categories that could see you, or your overseas teams, crowned international performance champions.