Name: Quantcast Corporation
Uses machine learning techniques to provide advertisers with detailed demographic information about online audiences. The company hopes to encourage media organizations to submit traffic data by offering basic services free.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Telephone: (415) 738 4755
Year Founded: 2006
Number of Employees: 70
President: Paul Sutter
Bio: Bachelors in electrical engineering from the University of West Virginia. Founder of Orbital Data, a WAN optimization solutions company which was acquired by Citrix, and founder of Transium, a web search-related company which was acquired by Altavista, where Sutter became the VP of Engineering after the acquisition.
CEO: Konrad Feldman
Bio: Bachelors in Computer Science from University College London. Research fellow, Intelligent Systems Laboratory, University College London. Formerly the co-founder and CEO of Searchspace (now Fortent), which developed software to detect money-laundering and terrorist financing.
CTO: Damian Reeves
Bio: Masters degree in computer science from the University of Cambridge. Previously the founder, general manager and CTO of Zeus Technology, which specialized in application traffic management and high-performance web-infrastructure.
Trevor Hastie, Professor, Stanford University, Department of Statistics and Department of Health, Research and Policy
Jerome H. Friedman, Professor, Stanford University, Department of Statistics
A round of series A funding in March 2007 raised $5.7 million from Revolution Ventures and The Founders Fund. $20 million in series B funding was raised in January 2008 from Polaris Venture Partners and The Founders Fund.
Quantcast measures the size of the audience garnered by web sites and other forms of digital media, and provides detailed demographic information about that audience. Advertisers are able to use this information to identify publishers, e.g. NBC Network or specific websites that match their target consumer profile. Company sources say that Quantcast achieves this audience measurement and analysis by using machine learning techniques to scrutinize massive quantities of directly measured web activity: Audience data has been gathered on over 1 billion people worldwide.
According to Quantcast, the company works with over two-thirds of the Online Publishers Association (OPA) members, over half of the top 100 advertisers (representing $1b in online spending annually), and the industry’s top 10 digital media agencies. Media partners include NBC Universal, Time Inc, ABC, Fox, MTV Networks, Hulu, Bloomberg, BBC, and Reuters. Quantcast competes with companies like comScore, Hitwise, Alexa, and Compete.com, which offer related services.
Media organizations are encouraged to submit traffic data to Quantcast with the offer of free traffic measurements, demographic analysis and other research services. Quantcast is paid when its real-time technology is used by advertisers to organize audiences. For example, by placing Quantcast tags in its display campaigns, an advertiser obtains demographic profiles of the users who were exposed to the ads and those who clicked on them, detailed by publisher and placement. Monitoring online campaigns, landing and conversion pages in real-time, Quantcast provides advertisers with click-through metrics for demographic attributes such as age, income, education, and geography.
Challenges and Next Steps:
Digital media is increasingly addressable - meaning that the content we consume, both programming and advertising, can be personalized for us in real time. Personalization can either be achieved by collecting and analyzing data about individuals directly or applying benchmarks and mathematical models to infer certain demographics about audience. The advantage of the second approach is that greater audiences can be reached faster, as personal data is often not readily available, especially when trying to identify new customers. While there is currently no other company which provides the same depth of these kinds of services as Quantcast, some of the other companies in the web analytics sector might expand their services in order to more directly compete with Quantcast. Another challenge to Quantcast is that advertisers might shift budgets away from display advertising and spend more on personalized, 1-on-1 mass marketing based on data collected from individuals. For example, some of the world’s largest retailers have been using customer data successfully for direct marketing campaigns.
Compiled by René Reinsberg
Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.Subscribe today