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4INFO’s Mallon: Meeting The Challenges Of Cookie-Less Measurement

Connecting consumers’ devices and what brings them to the cash register is what the company’s new Chief Product Officer is focusing on.

4INFO's Ken Mallon
4INFO’s Ken Mallon

Earlier this month, mobile attribution specialist 4INFO brought on former Microsoft and Yahoo executive Ken Mallon as its first chief product officer.

For Mallon, the role allows him to combine his various experience into focusing on the two big questions major brands and retailers have been wrestling with these days: How do you connect and accurately track digital ads in an increasingly app-based, permission-oriented, cookie-less marketing landscape and prove that to consumers at scale? And how do you prove that those marketing messages are driving people to the checkout counter at physical stores?

To address those issues, Mallon is bringing his exclusive focus from 15 years working in digital advertising to advance 4INFO’s targeting, measurement and insights products for marketers.

“Ken Mallon’s expertise is the ultimate fit for 4INFO’s growth and continued innovation,” said Tim Jenkins, CEO of 4INFO, in a statement. “His experience aligns perfectly with our focus on precise consumer targeting and providing insights throughout the customer journey — all the way to the cash register — to measure mobile ad campaign success based on actual in-store sales lift.”

As Principal Architect for Measurement and Insights Products at Microsoft, Mallon led the development of pre-campaign and post-campaign measurement and insight solutions to help brand advertisers make smarter buying decisions.

Earlier in his career, Mallon was VP of Yahoo AdLabs, a global research and thought leadership group inside Yahoo Labs. where he helped prototype new digital ad solutions for Yahoo’s brand advertiser and agency clients, including hyperlocal targeting technologies, and facilitated research on digital advertising attribution and effectiveness methods, with a particular focus on consumer packaged goods clients.

GeoMarketing: What led you to join 4INFO?

Ken Mallon: I have a lot of respect for Tim Jenkins. I’ve known him for several years and he’s the consummate CEO professional. The second thing is that I’ve spent the past 15 years totally focused on creating targeting and measurement products for digital advertising. That’s what 4INFO does and they’re ratcheting it up to “measurement 2.0” for the cookie-less device world. That’s very intriguing to me.

I worked at companies ranging in size from 20-person startups to ones with 20,000 global employees. I wanted a chance now to work at a relatively smaller company where I believe I can have a big impact.

4INFO tried to recruit me previously, but this seemed like the right time for both of us. This a particularly exciting time for them and the measurement space in general.

What are your initial goals as you get settled?

I’m looking both internally and externally. For internal, I want to make sure we have the right people on the bus. I want to build out the product and science teams. I also want to spend time with our customers and see what their specific pain points are and how we can best address them.

I also want to do a deeper study of competitors, and see what’s really different about us and what’s tablestakes, and how can we have a rounded out set of offerings.

The Chief Product Officer is new position at 4INFO. How do you define it?

It’s two roles. I manage the data science team and product management. In want to make sure we have key scientists in place that can focus on several areas of interest to 4INFO and its clients: targeting, measurement, developing tools internally that help people run the company.

On the pure product side, I’m the go-between people who need our solutions and engineering. The people who need our solutions include external clients and internal operations need our tools and systems. All their requirements and needs are funneled through the product team.

On the data science side, I manage those teams. We have a number of scientific initiatives that we drive. For example, there’s our bidder that we use to buy advertising, all of our location technology. Lastly, I’m focused on managing the insights and analytics in terms of figuring out how do you extract intelligence from Big Data.

How do you think your previous roles working on product and metrics at Microsoft and Yahoo will influence you in this new position?

I love the path I’ve taken because I’m going to be leveraging those experiences at 4INFO. I was at Yahoo in the early years, and I really walked away from that experience knowing how to innovate, how to break the mold, do things differently. At Microsoft, which is an enormous and well-organized company, I got to participate in product management at its finest, by-the-book, perfect way. So having this balance between the straight-laced, tie-wearing method to the pushing-the-envelope, making-stuff-up-as-we-go-along is a good combination that I’m bringing with me.

In addition, I have worked at startups and smaller companies. I was at Dynamic Logic in 2004 led product and customer solutions for six years. What I learned there is how to roll up your sleeves and learn every aspect of the company’s operations and focus. And that’s what I’ll also be doing at 4INFO.

As you bring all those experiences together, 4INFO and the digital marketplace at large are focusing on the idea of largely cookie-less targeting across portable devices. How do you view the challenges associated with that shift?

The digital landscape keeps changing for marketers. In 2000, when I joined Yahoo, the idea of the cookie was that it was the new direct marketing platform, it’s all measurable, trackable.

Then, people started deleting cookies and that was something the industry had to adapt to. Now, mobile devices and people are using apps and other technology that is outside the cookie’s ability to track behavior. There’s an immense challenge for marketers because they want to communicate and reach consumers across all platforms. It’s a user-centric marketing world, not device-centric one.

The challenge right now is this: Marketers want to deliver messages that are frequency capped across devices and be able to measure the effectiveness those connections have when consumers are offline. And that’s what 4INFO is squarely focused on that at scale and in a privacy-safe way.

Being able to link households and the devices associated with those households and seeing what ultimately happens at the cash register is the primary challenge right now for marketers. And helping to address that is what 4INFO is all about and what I’ll be personally focused on.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.