[Q&A] Zeotap CEO, Daniel Heer, Discusses CDP and First-Party Data Evolution

Zeotap Co-founder and CEO, Daniel Heer, sat down with Programmatic Spain to discuss Zeotap’s evolution into the leading end-to-end Customer Intelligence Platform in Europe, how its unique universal ID solution differs from competitors, and what it’s doing to actively help the open web increase its level of first party data.

1. Zeotap positions itself as an “end to end Customer Intelligence platform in Europe”. How would you define your current value proposition for publishers and marketers?

DH: Zeotap is the ‘next-generation’ CDP for Europe. As one of the only CDPs based in the EU, our Customer Intelligence Platform enables the unification, enhancement and activation of customer data – but in a privacy-first future. 

In other words, from a compliance standpoint we’re unmatched: most CDPs are built for North American standards, and are ill-equipped for the challenges that Europe brings. Zeotap was born out of Germany, a country with one of the strictest data privacy and security standards in the world, so our CIP is built to meet the highest standards here. 

This is important because having a unified, actionable customer dataset is now a ‘must-have’ for any marketer who wants to deliver the kind of personalised customer experience that it takes to compete in the new digital landscape. The impact of these efforts can be seen directly in every metric that matters, from ROAS to retention rates – and yet many marketers still struggle with breaking their data out of legacy silos and making it actionable across their campaigns (let alone reflecting GDPR and other compliance considerations). Our Customer Intelligence Platform makes this happen. 

In addition, our platform is the only one that can support marketers not just with the ‘how’ of managing data, but the data itself. No matter what their first-party data asset looks like, it has natural limitations and there’s always more that can be leveraged to deliver high-quality experiences. To that end, we’re the only CDP to include built-in Third Party Identity Resolution to make unknown visitors identifiable, and Third Party Data Enrichment to ‘fill the gaps’ in the first-party dataset. For publishers, our Universal ID solution, ID+, empowers them to overcome the challenges that will come with the end of third-party cookies. ID+ connects publishers, advertisers and both buy-side and sell-side platforms together to proactively safeguard the future of identity and addressability. Like all of Zeotap solutions, ID+ also prioritises privacy and transparency and ensures end-to-end user consent traceability.

 

2. How has Zeotap changed since its beginnings as a “Telco Data Provider”?

DH: We launched Zeotap in 2014 as a platform aimed at mobile usage and helping Telcos use their data assets in a privacy-sensitive way. Not long after, we recognised that there was a bigger data challenge at hand: brands need to be able to create multi-channel personalised customer experiences, but doing so requires a means to build customer profiles out of multiple sources of data, enrich them, and then segment and execute on them.

This steered Zeotap into the Customer Data Platform space, and in 2020 we announced the launch of our Customer Intelligence Platform (CIP), the next-generation CDP. Our CIP enables marketers to unify, enhance and activate their customer data in a world that prioritises data privacy and compliance. 

In the summer of 2020 we introduced ID+, our global universal identity initiative designed to deliver addressability in the cookieless future. ID+ is built on the back of one of the largest deterministic identity graphs, with more than 60 leading European publishers onboard who are already safeguarding the future of identity and addressability.

 

3. You have come up with ID+, your universal ID solution for the post 3rd party cookie world. What are the main features of ID+ that make it different from others like Liveramp, UUID2.0/OpenPass or ID5? 

DH: When selecting a Universal ID, the key elements to look for boil down to:

  1. Publisher and Marketer scale 
  2. The size of the deterministic graph by region
  3. The integration footprint across activation channels (DSP, SSP etc)
  4. Most importantly, privacy compliance

Zeotap’s ID+ encompasses all of these elements into one solution. Not only is ID+ fully interoperable and available to connect with all other identifiers, but it also works across both web and app properties on both mobile and desktop and can be easily adopted by publishers, brands and technology providers by simply integrating a website pixel. Explicit user consent is transparently baked into every ID+ record, with built-in tokenisations that ensure the protection of user data.

 

4. One of the main pillars of ID+ is interoperability. Where are you in that respect? Have you already closed interoperability agreements with other universal ID solutions?

DH: Yes, we have – we’re aiming to be as interoperable as possible and are open to working with any other universal ID solution that fits marketers’ common goals in Europe.

 

5. The digital advertising ecosystem seems to be evolving to a dichotomized world between Walled Gardens and the Open Web. How can the Open Web survive to the overwhelming level of registration Walled Gardens enjoy?

DH: The key to the open web’s survival lies in delivering good value exchange with users. In the new reality of addressability, Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, Snapchat aren’t going anywhere. They have identity locked down, and they add to that with a rich pool of data about individuals – all done at scale. However, they are hampered by a lack of transparency around how data is collected, handled and shared. This only emphasises the importance of having interoperable solutions for the open web that can deliver viable alternatives. 

 

6. We all agree that first party data is one of the keys for success in the long term. The question is if the Open Web can survive in the short term. What is Zeotap proposing to help the Open Web increase its level of first party data?

DH: If the end of third-party cookies has taught us anything, it’s how important it is to have a compliant, structured and rich pool of first-party data. 

We’ve seen so many businesses onboarding customer data platforms in the last couple of years, including our own Customer Intelligence Platform, as the cookieless future has put a ticking clock on the need to unify, manage and activate data. 

Zeotap is actively supporting publishers in building up a rich pool of first-party data and enabling them to ‘build their own’ walled gardens made up of high-quality authenticated data. We achieve this through our ID+ solution, which is based on transparent user authentication through hashed offline identifiers, and it connects with both standard and proprietary identifiers to maximise reach across web and app properties. This gives advertisers a new means of delivering addressability in a cookieless future without sacrificing accuracy.

 

7. Brands are also looking into identity solutions in the Open Web in order to keep their options as opened as possible. What is your value proposition to brands for users Identity? Do you think attribution models will survive the death of 3rd party cookies?

DH: Our Universal ID solution, ID+, offers a more secure means of delivering on Identity Resolution long after third-party cookies are gone. Based on transparent user authentication through hashed offline identifiers without relying on cookies or MAIDs, it’s built on top of the world’s largest deterministic identity graph with over 60 leading European publishers already on board.

In terms of attribution, the industry needs to take a crawl-walk-run approach to solving the reinvention of attribution, addressability, and measurement.  Until there’s an agreed-upon standard and market makers like Google have established their position, we can expect a patchwork approach to solving for measurement and attribution that is both manual and non-real time.


Spanish version can be found on Programmatic-Spain.com.