A potentially disruptive new technology developed by an Israeli start-up takes the concept of addressability to a new extreme: It detects your actual address and uses it to scrape and gather all the data associated with where you live.
The application is so powerful, say its developers, that it can know when you’re at home or away in order to serve ads relevant to your physical proximity.
The method, which was developed by an ex-Israeli military technologist, is based on consumers opting in to an offer, but nonetheless is likely to draw the attention of consumer privacy advocates by raising the stakes about what is knowable about you based on your digital media footprints.
“Your home address is the master key. Once we get that, we use it to open up a wealth of information,” explains Gil Margulis, CEO of Reveelz, the venture he started with his brother and company CMO Oran and CTO Ziv Isaiah, a co-founder of Boxee.
The technology, which has been granted a U.S. patent, utilizes a proprietary method that can determine someone’s residential address simply by opting into a Web or mobile offer.
The founders claim the method is “95% accurate,” and recently concluded a test with American Media’s OK! magazine to prove it. The test offered consumers access to “premium” content in exchange for opting in to receive “targeted advertising.” Once they opted in, Reveelz’s method scours a variety of publicly available databases, such as the U.S. Census, and via a series of cross-references utilizing machine algorithms, narrows it down to one physical address to that individual.
Once a consumer’s physical address is identified, Reveelz uses it identify information about the consumer that matches other marketing databases.
“The variety of databases that exist were all referenced to that home address,” explains Gil Margulis, citing Simmons, Nielsen and Acxiom data in particular.
The Margulis brothers, American Jews who repatriated to Israel and incubated Reveelz as part of Tel Aviv’s burgeoning tech start-up community, say they are still searching for specific applications for the method. They add it “solves a major pain point” for Madison Avenue: The ability to identify mobile device users without cookies.
“We’re going to call them brownies, because that sounds better than cookies,” says Jon Bond, a founder of KBS+ — who is now a consultant and investor and is one of several high-profile Madison Avenue advisors to Reveelz. Another is Robin Kent, the former CEO of Interpublic’s UM unit, who is now a serial entrepreneur, investor and consultant.
Both Bond and Kent believe that Reveelz’s technology could disrupt the way brand marketers identify and target consumers — going well beyond crude Web browser cookies, MAC addresses and other device targeting means. Once the system detects a user’s residential address, they can use it to associate almost anything else a brand would like to know about the consumers.
“If you know their home address, you can see if they’re at home or not,” explains Gil Margulis, adding: “If they’re at home ,you can target a different message than if they’re out.”
Ultimately, the brothers say they would like to amass a database of user IDs based on Reveelz’s “brownies” so that they could be used to target advertising, optimize ecommerce and help publishers serve the most relevant content to their users.
They concede the method might generate scrutiny from consumer privacy advocates, but assert that it never actually discloses a consumer’s address for the purpose of retargeting them. It just uses it as the key for identifying other information that can be used to reliably target them.