Netezza (NYSE: NZ) is the global leader in data warehouse and analytic appliances, and helps simplify high-performance analytics for some of the biggest media buying agencies in the world. Brad Terrell (@bradterrell), vice president and general manager of Digital Media at Netezza (@netezza), spoke to ExchangeWire this week about the state of the display market and the challenges European agencies face in adopting data-driven strategies to best compete.
Can you give an overview of your data warehouse product and how it can help large European agencies scale their data?
BT: Netezza’s data warehouse and analytic appliances take the concept of a relational database and instantiate it in hardware – taking what historically has been three independent technology silos – database technology, server technology, and storage technology – and re-integrating them. This opens up opportunities to innovate across that entire technology stack and deliver an incredibly compelling value proposition – more than 100 times the analytic performance of alternative solutions, at a fraction of the cost, with unmatched simplicity of deployment and operation. Netezza’s massively parallel processing architecture simplifies advanced analytics, while delivering massive scalability and computational processing to address the petabyte-scale data challenges that large European agencies face.
What are the key benefits for agencies?
BT: Netezza’s performance in executing analytic applications against extremely large data sets translates directly into increased business value in the context of the data-centric solutions that agencies require. For example, WPP’s Media Innovation Group has delivered 25% higher conversion rates and 33% lower CPA with their Netezza-powered attribution analysis solution. In addition, the simplicity of Netezza’s appliance approach delivers a faster time-to-value for agencies, because initial setup and data loading typically take less than 2 days, no indexing or turning is required, and ongoing administration is minimal. This simplicity further benefits agencies by enabling them to put their key human resources where they create the most value – delivering the insights and creative campaigns their clients demand.
Can you tell me how Netezza might work with a typical agency?
BT: Netezza is a technology firm. We provide agencies with the technology they require to create competitive advantage through high-volume, low-latency data analysis. We also provide the data analysis platform on which many of the most innovative firms that serve agencies – firms like Nielsen, MediaMath, and AppNexus – build their solutions.
Do you offer this service to publishers too?
BT: Absolutely. Publishers and agencies face many of the same analytic challenges, and firms like AOL and CBS Interactive, depend on Netezza to power their large scale data analysis solutions.
How would you differentiate your technology from other competitors in the European market?
BT: Netezza invented and launched the world’s first data warehouse appliance in 2003, and we did that in the face of tremendous competition from major incumbents like Oracle, Teradata, IBM and Microsoft. If you think about it, entering a market dominated by those competitors was really pretty audacious. So in order to get any traction in the market whatsoever, it would not have been good enough to simply be 10 percent cheaper or perform twice as well – we had to invent a solution that was not simply an incremental improvement – but one that was orders of magnitude better. And that’s exactly what we’ve done, and as a result our business has grown rapidly to serve more than 300 customers globally.
Netezza is different in how we combine commodity hardware and software in an intelligent and unique way to dramatically improve performance, simplicity and value in data warehousing and analytics. No other vendor takes this approach. All competing solutions are comprised of three independently designed components: database, server, and storage. And all of these solutions share the common trait that in order to keep up with analytic processing, they need to be constantly tuned in a vicious, never-ending cycle.
Our latest innovation combines big data with big math – extending our platform to enable analytical applications to run inside the appliance and close to the data. Our customers and partners can now easily create analytic applications that execute against extremely large data sets in Netezza systems using industry proven tools, such as SAS, traditional programming languages (Java, C++, Python, Fortran), new programming environments (MapReduce, Hadoop) and open source tools such as R.
Netezza is also different in the way we run our business—being easy to do business with is a fundamental part of our corporate culture, and that manifests itself across every touchpoint customers have with our organization. For example, our sales team actively encourages prospective customers to do hands-on proof of concept testing so that they can feel confident about the benefits of our products before they make a purchase, our marketing team ensures that our pricing model is simple, our legal team creates product licenses that are simple, and our customer support team goes above and beyond our customers’ expectations in order to delight them.
Should European agencies be developing a comprehensive data strategy?
BT: Absolutely. A comprehensive data strategy is the only way to truly unlock the value that data represents for agencies. The approach that I’ve seen work best involves acknowledging that all firms climb an “analytics maturity curve” over time, and that the quickest path to success starts with a well-defined and easily-justified “early win initiative” that addresses a specific business challenge whose value can be easily quantified. For example, maybe it’s campaign attribution analysis across search and display. Or maybe it’s better SEM portfolio optimization integrated with website analysis. It’s often easier to get started with smaller and more manageable objectives, while simultaneously creating a roadmap that leads to a unified data platform over time.
How can Netezza’s technology be leveraged to help agencies manage and scale the data needed to deliver better campaign performance and ROI for their clients?
BT: Gaining the insights required to best deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time through digital channels requires exactly the kind of high-volume, low-latency data analysis that Netezza’s technology delivers. Netezza is the optimal platform for agencies building solutions for data-intensive challenges such as ad targeting, RTB optimization and attribution analysis. Netezza enables agencies to analyze larger volumes of data more quickly than alternative solutions, thus producing the deeper insights that deliver better campaign performance and ROI for clients.
You’ve describe the ad exchange model as “transformative”? Can you explain this thinking in more detail?
BT: The ad exchange model gives all players in the ecosystem equal access to the same ad inventory. This means that reach and inventory quality are unlikely to be effective sources of differentiation for much longer. The winners in the ad exchange ecosystem will be the players that make the best decisions about how they buy and sell ad inventory – a problem that is particularly challenging since each ad buyer values each ad serving opportunity differently depending on its many characteristics. And the best decisions will be those made the most quickly using deepest analysis of the most data. That’s a very different dynamic than the dominant model of the past, and ad exchanges are catalyzing this transformation.
Does Netezza see the European market as a major opportunity in 2010? Are there plans to move into the market?
BT: Absolutely. Netezza has offices in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Poland to support the rapid growth we’re experiencing in the region.
How do you see the display model evolving in the coming months? Is data – and how it’s used – going to be fundamental to the future success of media buying agencies?
BT: Display advertising will increasingly be bought and sold based on deeper and more comprehensive analysis of how effectively it is achieving advertiser objectives. As this trend grows, firms with the ability to analyze the most data the quickest will win.