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January 12, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Ad Targeting for Real Time Consumer Intent



Kathy Leake

CEO & Co-Founder





Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – January 12, 2015


CEOCFO: Ms. Leake, what is the focus at Qualia today?

Ms. Leake: We are an ad targeting company, helping brands respond to real time consumer intent. Consumers are expressing intent in multiple ways today whether it is on their mobile phone, tablet or desktop. Given the advent of social media and other ways for consumers to express their in-market for certain products, we really help brands respond to those forms of consumer intent.


CEOCFO: Does intent mean any time someone mentions the name or expresses any kind of an interest or is intent a little more selective or pointed?

Ms. Leake: We started this company in 2011 and intent at the time was expressed only over Twitter or by consumers checking into a location and broadcasting their location publicly. We focused on those signals of intent. However, today consumers are expressing themselves in varied ways outside of social media. We are helping brands respond to consumers that are maybe posting products to a wish list, using a price alert app to be alerted to when a certain product goes on sale or hits a certain price point, or a consumer could be posting something that they intend to buy on a shopping list. We are analyzing past purchase history. Many different signals are being exhibited by consumers online in increasing numbers.


CEOCFO: How are you able to identify what people are looking at in all the various places?

Ms. Leake: We partner with different digital companies and apps where people are exhibiting these commercial signals, so these are unique data partnerships to our company. Nobody can find this data elsewhere, so it is unique to our platform. Providing that uniqueness of data is valuable to a brand marketer.


CEOCFO: Why does the other side want to partner with Qualia?
Ms. Leake:
In terms of someone being a data partner, it is a revenue generating opportunity for them. We help them monetize their data. For a brand, the brands are looking for consumers that they know are in market for goods or services and from a brands perspective; they want to find consumers that have the strongest intention to buy. Our platform provides them that avenue to reach the consumers at that moment.


CEOCFO: What kind of information are you supplying to your clients and on what basis?

Ms. Leake: We are an end-to-end ad targeting solution for brands. We are not only able to provide the brands with the strongest commercial signal to target against, we also buy the media digitally. The end result of all this analysis is digital advertising, so whether that be on your mobile phone, tablet or desktop, we are serving digital ads against this data. For brands, we are turnkey from that perspective. We provide the service end to end.


CEOCFO: Do you decide what the ads are -when where and how and is that done in conjunction with your client?

Ms. Leake: Our clients provide us the creative execution and messaging. We do make recommendations on what that should look like so that it resonates with a consumer. What we are in the business of doing is creating advertising that is relevant. Where everyone benefits and wins is when the advertising is actually relevant to the end consumer but we are very much reliant on the creative agencies to provide the creative execution for ads.


CEOCFO: Would you walk us though an engagement?

Ms. Leake: Let us take a retail client as a good example. What we might analyze for a top retailer with multiple commercial signals around the holidays, is if a consumer mentioned they are shopping for holiday gifts in a public sphere like a Twitter or a blog. They could check into a location that might be relevant for this particular retailer, using a Four Square as an example to check into a location that might be relevant. They could also post a particular product to a wish list that they are in market for. They could do price comparison shopping, so looking at a very specific product but do a price comparison online around that product, we would analyze all of that data for this particular retailer and then we would serve them on their behalf to this consumer based on all of those signals. We are constantly ingesting real time data into our platform, analyze real time data, waiting and scoring consumers against that data to decide the most qualified consumers to receive an ad, let us say from that particular retailer.


CEOCFO: What might you look at throughout that process that less experienced people would not think is meaningful?

Ms. Leake: The thing that we pay attention to that most ad targeting companies do not is this concept of commercial behaviors beyond social media. I would say that most ad tech companies are looking at social media as the definitive place to find commercial intent. The stance that we have taken is that these signals are expressed outside of social media in increasing numbers. To give you some statistics there, our data partners in our network have seen year over year growth from 50 percent up to 700 percent. These are people doing things in increasing numbers off social media. As I mentioned, whether they are posting something to a wish list, checking pricing, downloading electronic coupons, posting something to a shopping list, or using a price alert app, this behavior is happening in increasing numbers. Com Score is another source for us and they have said that seven out of every eight minutes of media consumption on mobile is related to applications outside of social media.


CEOCFO: You are still ahead of the game in what people are recognizing. When you are speaking with a prospective client, do they understand the value immediately?

Ms. Leake: Most of the clients that we do speak to, it resonates with them very quickly. Our solution is very logical and unique but it resonates quickly because it makes sense. If a consumer is raising their hand and expressing commercial intent, it is a missed opportunity for them not to market to that person. We find that with the vast majority if not all of our clients, it resonates with them very quickly.


CEOCFO: How is business?

Ms. Leake: Business is tremendous. We have had an incredible year. Growth is quite explosive. I would say we have had over 2000 percent growth in the past couple of years. We are hoping that we just continue along that path of growth in 2015, but it has been tremendous in 2014 as well.


CEOCFO: How have you handled the challenges of growing at such a fast rate?

Ms. Leake: Our biggest challenge is that our space I quite crowded. We are fighting for ad dollars against lots of companies. In our sector, there is probably a good three to four hundred people trying to capture ad dollars in our space at the moment. Although their value prop might be different from ours, everyone is looking for digital ad dollars as a competitor to us. I would say the biggest challenge for us is the noise in our space.


CEOCFO: What have you learned over time that makes offering better today, and that allows you to break through the noise in a way that perhaps you could not three years ago when you started?

Ms. Leake: Today, an investment that we are making is in marketing and PR, which we have not done prior. We have done little with regards to marketing and PR. We do win our fair share of awards and we do get recognized but it is all quite organic and not pro active on our part. I think something that we intend to change in 2015 is being more proactive with cementing our place as a thought leader. We are very much looked at as a thought leader today, but we have been very quiet about it and I think in 2015, a big initiative for us to break through the clutter is to be much loader about our position as a thought leader. I think we need to put more effort and energy behind our point of view. We have a strong point of view that is unique. We have been on the quiet side because we have been busy building a business so it’s been a challenge for us to actually market ourselves. We do marketing for our clients of course, but it is the old adage about the cobbler’s children having no shoes, in our case. In 2015, that is something that I really intend to change.


CEOCFO: What has surprised you as the business has grown and developed?

Ms. Leake: I think the one thing that is constant in advertising and especially advertising technology, is change. That is the one constant – we always have to evolve and innovate.


CEOCFO: Put it all together for our readers. Why pay attention to Qualia?

Ms. Leake: Qualia is really about solving a problem. I think people have a hard time articulating why they exist. For us, we exist because marketers did not have a way to respond to this type of intent. Qualia was founded on the idea that we would provide marketers with a way to actually respond to the strongest forms of commercial intent in the digital world. Prior to the founding of this company, the only thing that marketers had was the ability to listen and analyze data – they really did not have the ability to respond. That is really the reason we exist and that is why we resonate with so many Fortune 500 companies.


CEOCFO: Final thoughts?

Ms. Leake: I guess final thoughts would be anyone that is listening and is interesting in being an entrepreneur is that it takes resilience, fortitude, and the biggest advice I have give is the ability to adapt to the market changes that come your way and pressures that come your way. That ability to adapt and be malleable is incredibly important. You have to balance it with focus and determination as well.


"Qualia was founded on the idea that we would provide marketers with a way to actually respond to the strongest forms of commercial intent in the digital world."- Kathy Leake





Kathy Leake








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