Targeting technology vendor Pursway has launched an audience extension platform, Pursway Connect, to enable users to reach the close friends of their customers. Driven by the premise that "people want to buy what their real-life friends buy," the platform allows marketers to expand their audience by targeting not only individuals who have expressed an interest in their brands, but also like-minded people in their social circles, Ran Shaul, chief client officer at Pursway, explains.
The patented extension technology is built on a proprietary database that can map relationships for more than 150 million North American consumers. It leverages machine learning, and can analyze billions of data points from thousands of publicly available open-data sources to determine who customers' friends are. What makes the platform different than similar solutions is that the connections are not based on social media friendships or relationships, but rather on common life experiences.
"Pursway Connect doesn't just look at two people and say 'Well, Ron is friends with Erica on Facebook, so if Ron buys a car, Erica is going to buy the same car in a few months.' Rather, it asks: 'Do Ron and Erica work together? Do they live near each other? Did they speak at a conference together?' If all those are true, they are more likely to be friends in real life, and one's purchase is more likely to influence the other's," Shaul explains.
To generate an extended audience list, marketers upload an existing audience list, which can consist of customers who made a purchase in the last month, visitors to the site over a certain period of time, or any other group of consumers. Pursway Connect then generates the related names and contacts, making them available for marketers to use in outreach campaigns. Though it can be beneficial for a variety of brands, the extension tool is particularly powerful for driving significant purchases, such as electronics, fashion items, and even automobiles.
"Think about the kinds of purchases that consumers seek advice on. They often look to friends for fashion inspiration, or they ask for recommendations regarding the latest tech gadget. No one asks for advice on what type of juice or detergent to buy, but when it comes to more significant purchases, people ask their friends," according to Shaul.
Consumer electronics giant Sony, for example, has been working with Pursway for several years, and has relied on the technology to strengthen their marketing efforts. "[Pursway] has driven significant ROI thanks to consistently higher campaign conversion rates," Steven Fuld, senior vice president of marketing, Sony Corporation of America, said in a statement. "Pursway has a unique social graph that allows us to reach prospects with strong, real-life relationships with our customers. In a world where people are more likely to buy what their friends buy, with Pursway Connect, Sony becomes smarter, more relevant in its marketing outreach," he added.
The technology is currently available for direct mail, email, and social media targeting, but is "growing quickly" and will soon to be integrated for online and mobile advertising, Shaul says. Currently, the company is offering a 60-day free trial and inviting marketers to test the power of the platform with up to 100,000 names.