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Matt Kilmartin – Habu

WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN MARTECH INDUSTRY?

The first decade of my career I worked in the enterprise software industry and in 2008 I was working in the office of the CTO at Akamai where I was first exposed to marketing technology and the role data could play. A decade ago, I was excited about the rate of change, disruption, and opportunity that data and technology could have to make marketing better, hence the reason I joined Krux (acquired by Salesforce). Fast forward to today, with so many changes afoot on the consumer internet, that intrigue remains! I really enjoy collaborating with team members and customers to build innovative software to help brands adapt and thrive.

 

HOW DID THIS LEAD YOU TO DEVELOP “HABU”?

For the last 20 years, Habu’s founding team has been delivering innovative technology to leading brands, like L’Oreal, JetBlue, Kellogg, NBC, and The New York Times. Habu’s founders first came together at Krux and continued their work together after Salesforce acquired Krux, the leading Data Management Platform (DMP), in 2016. 

The Habu team had a front-row seat as all of the marketing ecosystem tectonic shifts (evolving, privacy regulations, cookie, and ad log deprecation) were unfolding. We were there on Day 1 with Google when they launched their “Clean Room” (now called Ads Data Hub), as a way to protect consumer data but still enable modest collaboration with the advertisers that were funneling billions of dollars into their platform.

As the other media titans, Facebook and Amazon followed Google’s lead and built like offerings, instead of longing for olden times, we knew it was time to take action. While data, of course, continued to flow, gone were the days of flying all of it into a central System of Intelligence.

We understood that, in this new decentralized context, the game was about bringing applications and intelligence to where data lived, with privacy for consumers and control for marketers and publishers.

 

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? WHAT DOES YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)

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I am typically up every morning by 5 am, as that is my quiet time to plan for the day and reflect on the business. I try to protect blocks of time to respond to e-mail and Slack pings. With the warmer weather returning in the Northeast, I plan to get back to the outdoor walking meeting which was a big hit at Habu last Spring, as we did a Fitbit challenge. As for productivity tools, I recently switched to a Remarkable for electronic notes which have had a big impact in reducing paper and clutter. Other than that… it’s the usual suspects with a preference of late to returning to the good old-fashioned telephone!

 

HABU RECENTLY ANNOUNCED A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR WITH 800% GROWTH. WHAT WAS THE SECRET BEHIND THIS HUGE SUCCESS? 

A great team-building innovative software at a time when brands need to adapt to a fragmented identity ecosystem and distributed data. Habu’s growth is attributed to capitalizing on this high demand by developing superior solutions. This is being validated by discerning customers and partners. Early market adoption was first seen in advertising across Industry clean rooms including Google Ads Data Hub and Amazon Marketing Cloud where the common use cases were primarily measurement. The next wave attracted business users and data scientists across all disciplines wanting to stand up their own data clean rooms for privacy-safe data collaboration with partners.

 

MAY YOU INTRODUCE OUR AUDIENCE TO HABU’S TECHNOLOGY, OR MARKETING DATA OPERATING SYSTEM, AS YOU LIKE TO CALL IT?

We have moved a bit away from the marketing data operating system positioning, as data collaboration (clean rooms) has become a category. Habu is a Next-Generation SaaS Data & Analytics Company that empowers brands to leverage data responsibly for better marketing in a privacy-first era. Given the tectonic shifts in our market, this new era is going to be defined by the ability to work across distributed data. 

Our data clean room software enables companies to operate in distributed data environments, allowing them to benefit from the value of access to more data without the risk of leakage. Habu connects data internally and externally with other departments, partners, customers, and providers in privacy safe and compliant ways for better collaboration, decision making, and results. 

 

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CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE DATA COLLABORATION TRENDS AND INNOVATIVE USE CASES FOR PUBLISHERS? WHAT ARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS?

I think people have often thought of data clean rooms as a secure environment for two companies to safely share data for overlap analysis, but that is just the very tip of the iceberg in terms of the use cases available through privacy- and governance-safe data collaboration. By working in clean room environments and collaborating directly with premium partners, brands are gaining an edge and benefiting from:

  • More robust data enrichment
  • Smarter campaign planning and
  • Better measurement

Here are just a few examples of some innovative ways companies are collaborating through data clean rooms today. 

  • Media companies with rich data assets are creating additional revenue channels by developing new and deeper strategic partnerships with key advertisers through their data clean rooms. 
  • Automotive companies are closing gaps in their customer journey with high-value intent signals from endemic publishers and conversion signals from location partners. 
  • Retail Media companies are setting up data clean rooms to securely share transaction data to CPG companies for attribution and closed-loop measurement. 

My recommendation to companies considering data clean rooms and data collaboration would be to think hard about how their business has been impacted or disrupted by the evolving privacy landscape and start asking themselves if a clean room might help them reinvent the marketing tactics and measurement techniques they have previously been engaging in. In terms of data collaboration, start having conversations with your most strategic partners because the market is moving and you don’t want to be left behind.  

 

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE MARTECH SPACE SINCE THE PANDEMIC AND WHY?

I think the pandemic allowed companies to take a step back and re-evaluate their business and strategy and have conversations with other companies to compare notes and discuss ways they can work together that’s mutually beneficial for all parties amidst the changes in the marketing landscape. I’m not sure as many of those conversations would have happened during a typical year of constant travel, events etc. The conversations we had in 2020 were critical to the growth and success of our business and the value we provide our customers. As I speak to more and more companies, they’ve shared that while 2020 was about education on the emerging solutions available, like data clean rooms, and 2021 is about taking action and identifying their most important and strategic partners to collaborate with in clean room environments.  

 

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WHAT’S THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING AT “HABU” AT THE MOMENT?

There are 2 problems that we are currently passionate about: i) automating delivery on data-driven advertising use cases via data clean rooms that quite frankly are not possible anymore given the industry changes ii) facilitating collaboration across other types of data sets for use cases well outside of martech. We get great satisfaction from seeing our clients succeed with our technology and that is truly our north star.

 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS ON HOW THEY CAN USE DATA TO OPTIMIZE AND GROW REVENUE?

There’s an incredible opportunity for publishers and media companies to seize the moment in front of them and gain a competitive advantage by standing up more strategic data collaboration environments with their partners. Not wanting to be beholden to the walled gardens, advertisers are looking to diversify their media investment and establish more thoughtful, direct relationships with publishers. Almost every publisher I speak with is starting to think about data clean rooms as a core part of their growth strategy in 2021 and beyond. Advertisers and agencies are starting to stand up for their own environments. My advice to publishers is to get your preferred clean room partner set up so you don’t find yourself playing whack a mole, responding to the whims of every advertiser which might result in you having to work with 10 different vendors. 

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