Anyone in attendance at Performance Marketing Insights in London last year may remember the charismatic presence of Tim Flagg, a seasoned digital marketer with a deep knowledge of the industry and the eloquence it takes to introduce an expert lineup.

Ahead of Flagg’s return to host a number of sessions at PI LIVE, PerformanceIN caught up to discuss the relatively recent launch of his company Advantagious and extensive experience in performance marketing.

Hi Tim, first of all, let’s start with a bit of background on your digital marketing career to date…

I’ve been passionate about advertising and understanding consumers since I started my career 20 years ago. Although the fundamental principles have stayed the same, digital technology has accelerated the pace, increased the scale and given marketers many more opportunities. I’ve witnessed those changes working in ad agencies (McCann-Erickson, Inferno), as well as being a marketer launching brands around the world for companies such as BBC Worldwide, NBC Universal and Hutchison-Whampoa. In the last few years I’ve focused on digital transformation, running EMEA marketing at Zipcar, setting up the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing Online (The IDM Online), and the Academy of Digital Business Leaders (The ADBL). I’ve also become an advocate for how marketers can use the latest tools and technology to enhance the effectiveness of their advertising. As the host of ClickZ’s digital marketing podcast, I regularly talk to thought leaders around the globe about the role of data and the future of advertising. Now I am the co-founder of Advantagious.

Tell us a bit about Advantagious and how the idea came about…

As a senior marketer and business leader, I’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to identify the most effective channels to reach target customers and maximise return on investment. As an advertiser, I’ve been constantly frustrated by the inability to identify consumer intent and the resulting inefficiency of advertising.

Twelve months ago the advertising and marketing industry was talking about the impact of ad blockers used by 27% of UK adults, for me, they were the ‘canary in the mine’ indicative of a more fundamental problem: The value exchange at the centre of online advertising is no longer sustainable. Not only were audiences finding ads annoying and irrelevant, they were beginning to become conscious that their data has value.

The current online advertising value exchange assumes that audiences ‘belong’ to publishers, giving publishers the right to sell their data. But in the age of AirBnB and Zipcar, any value exchange that doesn’t empower the consumer seems increasingly anachronistic.

I’ve always believed that by understanding consumers we can create better advertising. I’m passionate about empowering consumers to take control of their personal data and allow more relevant advertising and a better web experience. That’s why we created Advantagious as a consumer-centric value exchange, where consumers get paid to share their data, and advertisers are willing to pay a premium to obtain accurate purchase intent data.

We’re making a new class of data available to advertisers for the first time. User-volunteered data provides highly accurate, persistent information about consumers’ real purchase intent, allowing advertisers to target and serve more relevant advertising.

We’ve now piloting the initial product and building out additional features for 2018. Get in touch if you’d like to join the pilot and learn how we could help you more effectively identify and reach your target audience.

A cornerstone of performance marketing is efficiency, so where and why are we still seeing so much ‘wastage’?

Digital technology promised more targeted and more efficient advertising. Whilst advertising has become more efficient and accountable than ever there is still massive wastage. The typical click-through rate of a display ad is under 0.3%, that means 99.7% of the advertising is effectively wasted. When you combine that with a recent analysis by the Guardian that 70% of all online media spend gets spent on ad-tech middlemen, then you start to understand the scale of the problem. Yes, retargeting has improved effectiveness, but it’s created what I call the ‘John Lewis kettle’ phenomenon, whereby a product that I was researching but have now bought still relentlessly follows me around the web. It’s no wonder that advertisers are increasingly looking for marketing channels that offer ‘Cost per Sale’ or that offer more effective ways of targeting.

Within display, it is possible to identify and target different segments of users, but this is based on cookie data that is vague (2-3 fields) or second-party data that is out-of-date. For example, if you read about a new model of BMW you might visit a car website to check out the photos. Now, and for at least the next 30 days, you’re labelled as an ‘auto-intender’ and will be presented with ads about car related products or services.

Advantagious offers advertisers the ability to find consumers who have expressed an interest in specific products or services and provides detailed profiles about who they are. Advertisers can access consumers directly, or bring these profiles into their existing marketing stack giving them pinpoint accuracy.

How does Advantagious overcome consumers’ reluctance to relinquish personal data?

We’re not asking consumers to give us their data, we’re a platform that empowers them to control how their data is used and to sell it (on terms they control) to advertisers. The data always belongs to the consumer, we are the platform that facilitates the transactions. In that way, we’re a bit like a bank: the money always belongs to the customer and the bank offers them a service for as long as they want to be a customer. However, Advantagious also provides customers with a simple and easy way to make money from their data, when previously they got nothing.

Not everyone is going to be comfortable or interested in monetising their data today, but we’ve seen a spike of interest amongst 18-24-year-olds that suggests we’re at the beginning of a change in attitudes.

Are there any companies currently doing what Advantagious is doing or have you cornered a market?

There are a couple of other companies who offer consumers the opportunity to monetise their personal data, but only Advantagious provides a specific solution to advertisers as well. Our backgrounds are in advertising and the challenge that we’re trying to solve is something that we’ve faced firsthand.

Everybody is talking about data, but very few companies are really able to identify what’s valuable amongst the volume from disparate sources. The data ‘market’ is a very exciting place to be right now.

Does GDPR represent an opportunity for a company such as yours?

Very much an opportunity. We started building Advantagious at the end of 2016 when GDPR was still far off. We aim to empower consumers, to enable them to take control of their personal data, but the data always belongs to the consumer. The general data protection regulation has the same objective. GDPR has also put the whole topic of personal data at the front of mind for advertisers and publishers, and it has accelerated consumers’ appreciation of the value of their data. But even without the GDPR we would be championing the cause of the consumer, we believe it’s time for change.

You’ll be in the thick of the action at PI LIVE; which sessions or topics on the agenda have really caught your eye so far and what talking points could drive the most debate?

Given my background, I’m always going to seek out discussions around data and personalisation. I think this topic is front of mind for many performance marketers, not least because of GDPR. I’m going to be MC-ing on the main stage, but if I do get the chance I’d love to see the following:

If you’re interested in partnering, joining the team or signing up for the pilot then come and say ‘hi’ or drop me a line