Who is my target market, and how do I reach them? According to eXelate CEO Mark Zagorski, these questions are the basis for how modern marketers and enterprises begin the process of building a digital marketing strategy.

eXelate is an independent marketing data platform provider, headquartered in New York City. Its main products are maX DMP, a data management solution, and eXchange, an online data marketplace. The firm was cofounded in 2007 by Elad Efraim and Meir Zohar.

I recently had an email Q&A exchange with Zagorksi regarding eXelate’s solutions, trends in online advertising, and his company’s commitment to data privacy.

TechRepublic: Describe your firm’s approach to effectively targeting a marketing campaign.

Mark Zagorski: eXelate provides marketers with the tools and analytics necessary for the management, modeling, and mobilization of their data assets across display, mobile, and video as well as for the measurement of the results to take more effective action based on them. We engage with marketers and agencies at the very start of the media decision process. Namely, whom do I define as my ideal audience, and how can I reach them?

TechRepublic: What are the main trends in online display advertising?

Mark Zagorski: First, it is clear that audience-based advertising [i.e., targeting buyer-defined audience segments through multiple media channels] is replacing context, which has long been a proxy for audience, as a result of the advances in programmatic media planning and execution. Second, display advertising doesn’t exist in a vacuum anymore — multi-platform is the name of the game. Video, mobile, set-top, display are all part of a cross-platform package that marketers now demand when building their digital media strategy.

TechRepublic: What is eXelate’s value proposition to potential customers?

Mark Zagorski: eXelate works with both marketers directly via our maX DMP (data management platform) solution, as well as their media partners through our data eXchange, which supports 125 media execution platforms such as Google, AppNexus, and Yahoo. So, you can say we provide both the engine and the fuel that drives programmatic media decisions.

eXelate’s maX DMP helps marketers leverage their own customer data, along with exclusive rich information provided by the eXelate eXchange to better understand and reach prospects and converters at any stage of the purchase funnel. Our eXchange provides marketers with data from more than 200 sources — ranging from consumer behavior on e-commerce websites to aggregated offline transaction data from IXI, MasterCard Advisors, and Nielsen. This data enables consumer profile building, which helps marketers better understand and more effectively engage their current and prospective customers.

TechRepublic: What opportunity did you see when you joined eXelate in 2008, and how has that changed over six years?

Mark Zagorski: When the founding team and I launched the eXchange here in the US to facilitate transactions between the buyers and sellers of data, we saw an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of online advertising. Now, we’re the leading independent data platform, sitting squarely in the middle of the marketing “stack,” providing powerful data to fuel higher resolution insights, better models, and more accurate audience targeting than any competitive platform can deliver, while our professional services and infrastructure support ensure that marketer ROI goals are met. So essentially, we went from being a “market maker” to providing the tools that power the market.

TechRepublic: How do your solutions help B2C companies gain consumer insights?

Mark Zagorski: eXelate’s solutions take “trillions” of online and offline consumer interactions, crunch them together, and display them on a dashboard. We literally provide real-time, census-level insights that can be actioned upon in the digital media world instantly. With our solution, long market research cycles to generate insight are a thing of the past.

TechRepublic: Could you share a customer success story?

Mark Zagorski: Recently, a marketer with whom we work launched a nationwide rebranding campaign. For this effort to be a success, they needed a better understanding of how their target audience differed by region and across devices both before and after the new campaign. With the insights we provided via a centralized data portal, they were able to discover and engage new audience personas across multiple platforms and gauge the impact of the rebranding effort.

TechRepublic: You have a substantial number of partners — media and platform, data and trading. How do they contribute to eXelate’s success? Do you prefer the term partner to customer?

Mark Zagorski: Both the partners that leverage eXelate’s data and those that plug into our maX DMP are an essential part of an open, data-driven advertising ecosystem whose focus is to drive marketer ROI. It truly is a partnership, and one that we believe is essential to create the best returns for our end customer — the advertiser. As a result, we can drive smarter marketing decisions, and it’s the reason why 44 of the top 50 US brands in beauty, beverages, CPG [Consumer Packaged Goods], consumer electronics, financial services, healthcare, and luxury goods avail themselves of eXelate’s platform connections and industry partnerships globally.

TechRepublic: I noticed that you have been a member of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) since 2008. How do you view data privacy in the current digital marketplace?

Mark Zagorski: Data privacy has always been important to eXelate and will continue to be as consumers become more data savvy, and the “data trail” they leave becomes more extensive. We were one of the first companies to provide consumers with transparency as to the data we are collecting and give them a clear opportunity to update, fix, or opt out through our consumer data dashboard. In addition to NAI, we adhere to IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] and DAA [Digital Advertising Alliance] best practices and have been certified by TRUSTe. Our business, and the business of our marketer partners, relies on maintaining consumer trust; that is always at the forefront of how we operate and how we expect (and require) all of those with whom we work to act.