Tealium Tries to Simplify Tag Chaos, Adds Data Layer for Marketers
It was almost a year ago when veteran software executive Jeff Lunsford took over as CEO at San Diego’s Tealium, a five-year-old startup providing data-management technology for the online marketing teams at companies like Urban Outfitters, Fox Networks Group, McAfee, and Travelocity.
In a recent call from the airport in San Jose, CA, Lunsford says Tealium now has more than 300 enterprise customers—compared to 140 customers a year ago—and revenue is up by 130 percent year-over-year. (Tealium does not disclose its revenue.) The company raised $15.6 million in a Series C round in April, bringing its total venture funding to $27 million, and moved into a new headquarters near the Torrey Pines Golf Course, where most of the company’s 150 employees work.
In recent weeks, Tealium says it also has expanded its core Web-based service to address a rising wave of woe that the company describes as “the data problem.”
According to Chris Slovak, a Tealium senior sales engineer, part of the problem is that tags are embedded by vendors that provide all kinds of different Web services, including affiliate marketing, banner advertising, social media marketing, search-engine marketing, and analytics. The data generated get collected by each vendor, which typically provides the relevant information in batches for its respective customers.
One result is that Tealium’s tag traffic (as measured by Evidon) is up 12-fold—reflecting a deluge in tag data that is becoming unmanageable. Tag data itself also can be confusing, because different vendors often use different terms in describing their data. The terminology can vary even in their use of the term “tag,” which also is known as a Web bug, Web beacon, tracking bug, or page tag.
As Lunsford puts it, “the industry is reaching the breaking point,” necessitating Tealium to develop a new standardized layer of the Web stack that it calls the data layer. “It’s the data layer that reduces all this chaos,” Lunsford says. And with its recently deployed AudienceStream service, Tealium has set out to use this new data layer to unify tag data from different sources into a real-time data distribution platform for its customers.
For example, Lunsford says the marketing team at McAfee now uses Tealium to deploy its tags. “It used to take them 14 weeks to deploy one new tag, and now it takes them one day,” he says. Instead of getting their tag data from two-dozen different vendors, Lunsford says, “They can log onto our interface and hit a button and get all of the data.”
Tealium’s Slovak says marketing teams also can use automated tools to characterize their customers, using badges, icons, and other attributes to separate their online customers into different market segments. Tealium can use these attributes to “identify” each customer who visits an e-commerce Website without collecting personal information.
Lunsford calls it a “personalization” trend. “Everyone is trying to do what Amazon has been doing for the past 10 or 15 years,” he says.
By collecting information about each user visiting a website—and characterizing that user—Slovak says Tealium can help its customers “re-engage” with their customers. For example, a user who doesn’t buy anything while visiting an online retailer—but who is identified as a “VIP” for typically spending $1,000 a month—could be targeted in a future marketing campaign that sends a discount offer by e-mail to “loyal customers.”
“If a user has abandoned their shopping cart, you could send them a discount offer,” Slovak says. “Or you can target them with a banner ad with a coupon for 20 percent off. We can automate the actionable information.”
Tealium contends that marketing teams are embracing its product, and the company is riding a wave of disruptive technology. “It’s a pretty geeky wave,” Lunsford says, “but when you live it, you feel the benefit.”
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