The Interview: John Lamphiere, Quantcast

20 Jan 2015

John Lamphiere, head of EMEA operations at Quantcast

In the intricate world of digital marketing in 2015, success is defined by those who join the dots in real-time between an online ad and a sale, says John Lamphiere, the new head of Quantcast’s EMEA operations in Dublin.

To the uninitiated, digital marketing, online advertising, social media marketing, you name it, are dark, mysterious arts understood by a precious few gatekeepers who jealously protect their lore.

To the initiated, it is all about numbers and insight. Big data and analytics, that sort of thing.

To John Lamphiere, this is business reality in 2015.

Lamphiere was last week appointed director EMEA corporate sales and operations for Quantcast and will head up the company’s Dublin operations. The company last year announced it will be employing 100 people in the city.

After an arduous hunt for the right headquarters the company is making its international home on Pearse Street.

Lamphiere joins Quantcast from Facebook where he was regional sales director and responsible for local market strategies.

Quantcast is one of the largest big data crunching organisations in the world, alongside Google, Facebook and the US Department of Defense.

The marketing brain of the internet

Founded in San Francisco in 2006 by entrepreneurs Konrad Feldman and Paul Sutter as “the world’s only open internet ratings service” the company has grown to become effectively the marketing brain of the internet.

Quantcast’s data centres process more than 800,000 transactions per second and produces accurate audience measurement to over 100m web destinations.

Investors in Quantcast include Founders Fund, Revolution Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners and Cisco Systems.

The company’s key products include Measure, Measure for Apps and Advertise.

As Lamphiere explains it the Dublin office, which started last year with six people and is now past 60, represents the broad spectrum of Quantcast’s operations, including sales, support, revenue and soon HR and legal.

“Quantcast have already invested in some very clever people across all functions and this is only the start,” he says.

Lamphiere explains that the Measure technology developed by Quantcast enables publishers, e-commerce vendors and other online services to build a profile of people who visit the site.

“Over the past six years we’ve had over 100m websites around the world plugged into Measure and that’s what gives us the big data. If you take the UK as an example, we see more than 44m UK internet users between 400 and 600 times per month.

“We process 30 petabytes of data each day, which is phenomenal.”

The Measure service, which processes data on reach, traffic, frequency, demographics, lifestyle, geography and business characteristics, is free to publishers.

Where Quantcast makes its money is from related products like Advertise, which allows e-commerce vendors, for example, to build up a more detailed and precise image of customers using cookies.

“That is the story of big data. If you join the dots on a picture, the more dots you can join the better a picture you create.”

When you throw mobile into the mix, there is the dizzying realization that e-commerce vendors could potentially track the entire story of a customer’s curiosity about a product through to the final transaction.

“The first step in the story of a transaction could be an ad served on a user’s smartphone, which could be triggered in the first place by the user simply checking to see what the weather is like in Ibiza. The transaction journey could start on a mobile device or finish on a desktop or another mobile device.

“It’s about understanding different behaviors that culminate in a transaction or lead to another. When you start looking at buying new car insurance you could be just scrolling through websites on your phone, continue to the iPad and maybe complete the transaction on your desktop at work the next day.

“Tracking this requires real-time insight and the ability to join the dots.”

Rather than viewing Google or Facebook as competitors, Lamphiere sees them as delivery partners.

“We still purchase impressions from publishers of all descriptions and we layer our own information on top of that. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sky Sports … all of them become publishers of impressions and we plug into their exchanges.”

Lamphiere’s journey into digital marketing began at Yahoo! and he joined Facebook in Dublin when it was a fledgling organisation of just 20 people. Now it has over 800 people and growing.

“I witnessed incredible growth at Facebook and it was an incredible organisation.

“I think when I spoke to Konrad (Feldman) about this role it became really exciting. Quantcast is built on a lot of the same values as Facebook and Google, hire the best people.”

Navigating the digital landscape

The key words that define the digital marketing landscape in 2015, Lamphiere believes, are “real-time” and this is what gives Quantcast differentiation in the market from its competitors.

“Other companies that we compete against in the real-time bidding space buy their data whereas we gather our own data. This puts them at a disadvantage because their data is not in real-time.

“For example, if someone is shopping for car insurance they only have a window of two to three hours and by the time they have imported the data and present the ad the individual will have already bought their car insurance.

“That’s why many of the ads that follow people around the internet are often surplus to requirements because people will have already bought that car insurance or flight.

“By us having our own data means that we can perform in real-time. The minute your cookie fires saying you are in the market for car insurance, we will show the car insurance ads and as soon as the insurance has been paid for the ads stop following you.”

Dublin at the nexus of a 21st-century media revolution

When you take into account the presence of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Quantcast, to name but a few, Dublin is at the crossroads of the global digital marketing industry.

The key to this has been people and the ability for organisations to reach scale, says Lamphiere.

“People talk about the people or the staffing advantage with moving to Dublin and that’s a huge advantage, but it’s a bit like the ‘big data’ term in that it has been a term that has been thrown around.

“But what it really means is that as an organisation begins to scale its centre of excellence from a sales or revenue generation viewpoint, there is a large cohort of experienced people who have worked in the tech industry who have a wealth of knowledge to shape the scaling business.

“Scale isn’t just about eking extra productivity by having somebody work extra hours.

“Scale is about unlocking a lot more value. Many of the tech companies based here have figured out that the talent sourced locally in Dublin lets you to 10x more with just 2x extra people. That’s about scale.

“That’s the reason these companies are coming here, it is because of the value that people bring. And that is the value that Dublin is bringing at the moment.”

Quantcast is a Silicon Republic Featured Employer, comprised of top tech companies that are hiring now

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years