I.Predictus Takes the Gamble Out of Media1 Sep, 2013 By: Thomas Haire Response
Monica C. Smith looks to inspire marketers and agencies with her belief in holistic data aggregation and its ability to power winning campaigns.
This is not just about direct response,” says Monica C. Smith, founder and CEO of Parsippany, N.J.-based I.Predictus. “It’s about direct mail, Web, E-mail and all of the different types of social media. Where there’s data, there’s I.Predictus.”
Smith, who also founded DR industry stalwart and fellow Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) member Marketsmith 15 years ago (she also still serves as CEO), launched I.Predictus in 2011, about three years after Marketsmith began serving the direct response space in earnest. “The concept for the technology and the delivery platform was born of necessity,” Smith says of I.Predictus. “At Marketsmith, in the role of campaign manager, we’d become very comfortable with industry data. But because the data was so disparate and so inconsistent, it caused Marketsmith to add headcount, which meant our margins weren’t getting any better. I wanted full automation, and that’s how I.Predictus was really born.”
Smith — a hybrid technologist, strategist and brand champion — has worked with Fortune 50 companies to niche marketers throughout her career. Marketsmith’s growth (the company ranks No. 389 on the 2013 Inc. 500) afforded her the insight and opportunity to create I.Predictus with the goal of serving the betterment of the entire business community.
But the road has not been completely smooth. “There have been three staging areas of I.Predictus,” Smith says. “First was understanding whether or not investing in the DR industry was something that I wanted to do and should do. I canvassed industry leaders and the feedback was positive. The second piece was that what I wanted to create was an environment where marketers and agencies could use data holistically and in partnership. I needed to be able to create a data platform where everyone was on the same page.”
It was the third part that caused a bit of a setback. “When I initially presented it to the marketplace last year (in September 2012), I recognized that some folks got it, and some folks felt it was too complicated. I made a very big financial decision to go back to the drawing board,” Smith says.
Last month, the company officially departed from its beta release and announced the launch of its predictive media-buying tool B.E.S.T. — which stands for “Buy. Evaluate. Sell. Test.” and its I.Predictus Intelligent Palette, called [IP]2. Smith says that these tools make I.Predictus’ ability to translate “Big Data” into actionable insights without the need for the cumbersome hardware used by traditional analytics tools is a pure “innovation-shot directly into the main vein of the industry.”
“We could not locate a platform with the functionality to aggregate data from all consumer touch points along the purchase continuum — including the Web, retail, social, telemarketing and fulfillment — to define the lifetime value of a consumer base and the determine the effectiveness of media on a per-customer basis,” Smith says. “So we created one.”
The interface of the I.Predictus model is impressive initially — and perhaps even more so once you begin moving around the platform. “What’s unique about I.Predictus and the technology, across the board, is that it’s a dot-net environment with open-source technology,” Smith says. “Because it’s a hybrid, that allows us to create business rules that allow for granular data to be transformed and loaded correctly.”
The information is placed in the system from those sources — and cleaned up by I.Predictus’ algorithms. “It’s a stateless environment that can be seen, whether on your iPhone, iPad or at your desk,” Smith says. “It’s a brick-based system that allows for point-and-click technology to enhance a person’s experience base upon their abilities.”
While the company is in the early stages of loading clients into the system — DR industry leader Tristar Products is on board, with up to another half-dozen marketers expected to announce this month — Smith believes that seeing will be believing for I.Predictus users. “The algorithms built into this platform have been around and utilized for almost five years,” Smith says. “A billion dollars of media revenue in five different countries have been using these algorithms. The platform is much more holistic and far more integrated than what the industry knows.”
Smith believes the company’s tools become essential when DRTV becomes the common standard for brands that are mandated to drive better efficiency in their media buys. The company’s vision is to drive innovation in the market by supporting the automation of programmatic media buying by aggregating data from all consumer touch points into one secure system.
“The game-changing scenario we’re in as an industry, because of this new platform, is that agencies, marketers and all vendors have access to data in a way they’ve never seen it before,” Smith says, adding that the company expects to have “15 DRTV giants” onboard I.Predictus by this time in 2014.
Through the use of its patent-pending algorithms, the B.E.S.T. predictive media buying engine will analyze future media buys and use the intelligence of historical media results to recommend whether to “Buy, Evaluate, Sell or Test” current media time, up to 16 weeks, that has been purchased for a campaign. It becomes “a day-trading platform,” allowing marketers to give direct information to their agencies. “The relationship with your agency has just been changed, and there’s an empowerment,” she adds. “But I believe that empowerment happens on both sides.”
It’s been quite a year for Smith and her team to get to this point. “My first accomplishment in the past year is that I’ve made it to this point,” Smith says with a laugh. “But departing from the beta release and launching only happened because we listened to the feedback we got a year ago. I made a huge change in seeing that the system was too complex. By being able to make that change, financially stick around and be able to be present — the economics for the industry were rough — and surpass all of my possible expectations is a great accomplishment.”
Looking ahead, Smith remains aggressive about I.Predictus and its offerings. “Where this is going to go is that every single channel that takes in data for marketing and advertising will be something that’s brought into our ETL process — extract, transform and load,” she says. “Our innovative four-stage ETL process enables data to be validated and standardized — and all driven by a defined standard of business rules across all business channels. We will build a place for views of that data in I.Predictus to continually hold that media accountable and actionable, and give sight to what its impact is, either at the household level or at retail. It’s not an ‘If?’ It’s a ‘When?’”
Smith believes that I.Predictus’ success can grow the entire direct response space in two ways. “There are two big opportunities that I.Predictus changes for our industry. The first: there’s no stopping larger brand marketers coming in and feeling confident about how to use accountable media. We’ve got the right agencies to show them, and we’re going to grow because of it,” Smith says.
She adds, “The other thing is there’s no stopping the marketers who play in this space today, and who do it so well, to absolutely be able to be in other countries as I.Predictus moves into other countries, and to do it from right here in the U.S.” ■
Data Security Keys I.Predictus
Another key in creating I.Predictus and the B.E.S.T. tool was security. “In our industry, trade secrets are passed back and forth via the Internet,” says Monica C. Smith, founder and CEO. “I.Predictus has created a secure universal data repository that is completely controlled within your own organization. You determine the permission levels for every person or entity accessing the platform. And we insure the integrity of our clients’ data is our top priority on all fronts — physical, network and software.”
She adds, “We believe that it’s time to really ensure there’s a higher standard around data security across the board. As an industry, we’re not really doing all the due diligence necessary to ensure that our words (about security) are matching our actions. To bring it back to I.Predictus, I’m ok with being held accountable for other people’s data security. I want to be held to that level of accountability. And then, once we’re held to it, let’s make it a standard.”
I.Predictus is a multi-media technology solutions provider for the direct response industry. I.Predictus is led by top industry talent who understand the challenges that marketers face in converging their data and the need to have an omni-channel view of media performance.
Location: 14 Walsh Dr., Suite 200, Parsippany, NJ 07054
Phone: (973) 794-6464