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Moneysupermarket builds private trading desk in data monetisation push

Moneysupermarket has ring-fenced its data by building a private trading desk as it looks to drive data monetisation and maintain control of its first-party data, The Drum can reveal.

The price comparison site has integrated all its previously disparate data sets into a centralised database providing a single customer view comprised of customer and behavioural data.

This means it can now offer commercial partners including banks, credit card and insurance companies, exclusive access to specified audience segments that cannot be bought anywhere else but directly through Moneysupermarket.

It will then run those campaigns in real-time bidding (RTB) environments, including its own site and elsewhere on the web such as Facebook’s exchange (FBX), private marketplaces and ad exchanges. It is working with demand-side platform (DSP) MediaMath, demand-management platform (DMP) BlueKai, and Rubicon Project for running programmatic buying via its own site.

The company is currently running trials with a variety of financial services and insurance companies.

Moneysupermarket’s head of digital Andy Mihalop told The Drum leveraging its data assets in this way is vital for driving competitive advantage. The overall business aim is also to safeguard its business model, which centres on customer acquisition at scale.

“The day the likes of Barclaycard for example, can buy customers more cost efficiently than we can is the day our model becomes redundant so building the trading desk is about protecting our model and creating strategic partnerships with our commercial partners,” he added.

The move is essential if the company is to maximise the value of its data assets and maintain complete ownership and control its first-party data rather than opting to put it through an agency trading desk, according to Mihalop.

“By building this brand trading desk we are ensuring our relationships are direct with our tech vendors [BlueKai, Mediamath] so it is not like we are putting our data into an agency DMP – we own it.

“We can extract that data and manipulate it in any way we want at any stage. If we decided to use another DMP that data is our own and we would just pull it back and put it through a different DMP,” he said.

Mihalop believes many marketers are becoming increasingly savvy about the value of their data with some preferring to create their own direct relationships with tech vendors rather than putting their first-party data through an agency trading desk.

“Clients are starting to get wise about the lack of transparency and also data security and protection in general. Brands are waking up to the importance of data and programmatic buying and seeing they must be smarter about it.

“It depends on the contractual agreement whether brands retain data ownership. When brands sign up to work with an agency trading desk – who is looking at data ownership – are marketers absolutely clear on who owns the data? What happens if the agency relationship comes to an end or they put it up for pitch? But it is not just the ownership of the data it is the insight from it that informs your strategy. That learning comes from being an early adopter of RTB.”

The news follows reports that major brands including Unilever, Kellogg's and Proctor and Gamble have also moved to create their own DMPs and DSPs in the last year.

Meanwhile AOL has announced the launch of a supply-side platform (SSP) product called Marketplace, aimed at helping publishers better manage their RTB display inventory.

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