The Monday Stack: Voices From The Bay

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Stack logo by Hilary Allison
Stack logo by Hilary Allison

Voices from San Francisco: Lewis Gersh

I took an opportunity at RampUp in San Francisco last week to catch up with Lewis Gersh, the self-styled Chief Stamp Licker at New York’s Pebblepost. Not only is Gersh a leading figure in the digitization of direct mail (he calls it “programmatic direct mail”), but as an investor and entrepreneur, he’s a veteran observer of the marketing tech landscape. I asked him what he was getting out of the LiveRamp summit experience.

“For the better part of 15 years, there was Internet World, or those types of conferences, which just became a mish-mash of consumer, B2B, games, movies, advertising — it was too much, and cratered for good reason. What I like here is that it’s so much around data-driven marketing. That can be applied in a lot of different areas, but it’s the one single thread. Almost everything we thought the web should be is only starting to happen now, and it’s because of the data. And there are a lot of leaders here, making it happen, where the older conferences that were more general had a lot more rookies. I think everybody here finds that really useful.”

There’s a Pebblepost 2.0 coming down the road, which Gersh can’t yet talk about in detail. Foundationally, his solution uses a deterministic address graph, based on household data — that’s where most of the purchases his customers care about are made — and appends behavioral and other data to manage campaigns and personalize direct mail pieces. In part, that’s where LiveRamp comes in, although: “We use a combination [of approaches]: We do some with address matching, we do some with segmentation management, we do some attribution and feedback. All told, we work with, I think, five out of the six biggest data providers. LiveRamp is one of them, for sure.

One of the main topics of RampUp was executing people-based marketing across everything which counts as TV (not just connected TV). That’s where Pebblepost is already at with direct mail, correct? “People started looking at this years ago — I think Experian was the first — with no idea where this was going to go.” At Pebblepost, it took nine months to architect, nine months in alpha, then another nine in beta: “We had this stuff starting to work, and doing it for the first time was a lot of fun. But what we had to learn about looking out for certain things… Nobody had ever done anything like this. But yes, we’re connecting digital, to in-home, to any purchase channel (to follow up) which is way different than digital. Ninety percent of one to one actionable intent data is probably now online.  Ninety percent of meaningful and higher purchase decisions still happen at home.”


Voices from San Francisco: Karen Steele

At ON24’s Webinar World, one of the panelists on a panel I moderated was Karen Steele, since December CEO of LeanData. After several years as a senior marketer at VMWare and Marketo, I wondered why she had made the change. 

“When I joined the company, I already knew of LeanData, because Marketo was a customer when I was at Marketo. But it’s been deliberately under the radar. For the last six years, it’s been focused on solving difficult data problems for customers.” In particular, data problems with CRM and marketing automation such as de-duplication and enrichment. “Today the company is really focused on connecting people and data, to help businesses get to revenue faster. There was a bigger opportunity because CRMs are really content management systems; they’re not databases.”

LeanData is built natively on Salesforce, and so is currently only available to Salesforce CRM customers. “We sit in between the CRM system and the marketing automation system, and add value equally to both by making the funnel efficient — which today it’s not.” The three main tools in the LeanData tool-kit are routing (of contacts, leads, and opportunities); matching of apparently disparate data objects (individuals, businesses, etc) at a high accuracy rate; and an attribution engine. “You can take all of the touches in the life-cycle, and actually show what campaigns generated what amount of revenue, and optimize based on that.”

Good matching, of course, is crucial to a successful ABM strategy. That’s where LeanData came in, four years ago, as an early integration in Marketo’s ABM offering. “So we’re an integral part of Marketo’s suite as a partner, as part of the eco-system, and as a customer — we use Marketo too.”


We’ve often covered SheKnows Media, and their Marketing Hall of Femme President and CRO Samantha Skey, here at DMN, so we were intrigued to learn that the women’s lifestyle digital media company has been acquired by Penske Media Corporation in an effort to expand its female-focused content, and the BlogHer Conference business. Los Angeles-based PMC, which has a majority stake ownership in Rolling Stone, refused to comment on the financial terms of the deal. Penske also owns Women’s Wear Daily and Deadline.

“Our aim is to produce quality content that enriches women’s lives while celebrating their passions,” said Skey. “We know that SheKnows Media will grow and prosper within PMC.” Hillary Adler


Finally, having started the day by looking at ways some websites use legitimate but nonetheless devious anti-ad blocking codes to invisibly over-ride users’ ad preferences, we should also give a nod to some detective work by DoubleVerify, the brand safety watchdog and media metrics authentication vendor. According their report, some websites are running code deliberately designed to impede accurate evaluation of digital ad viewability by third parties. Result? Inauthentic ad impressions and fraudulently inflated bills.

Well, what do you expect in the untamed wild west of the Interwebs? Oh wait, the websites specifically identified by DoubleVerify as engaging in this conduct: properties owned by Newsweek ( and International Business Times. “These sites have been designated as fraudulent Sophisticated Invalid Traffic Sites (SIVT) by DoubleVerify,” said the release.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

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