Friday, August 10, 2012
Interview with Ali Benham, Tealium
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
If you head up marketing for an Internet company, you're undoubtedly used to having to work--or fight--with your IT department to help maintain your web site and manage all of the changes you need done. Plus, you undoubtedly have a lot of third party "tags"--small code snippets--all of your website to get your analytics tools and other software to work. How do you streamline that process? Last month, San Diego-based Tealium (www.tealium.com) announced a healthy, $10.5M funding round for tag management, helping marketing departments with that effort. We spoke with Ali Benham, one of Tealium's co-founders, to learn more about what tag management is, and why the company's market has suddenly become so interesting.
First off, what is tag management?
Ali Benham: Very briefly, tag management is about managing all of your digital marketing tags on a website. A digital marketing tag is typically also referred to as a page code, which customers put on their websites when they want to deploy certain digital marketing solutions. As an example, if you're deploying Google Analytics, the way you deploy it is copying and pasting a page code on your website, also referred to as a tag.
What we've seen over the last four of five years, is there's been an explosion in the number of digital marketing vendors out there using tags for data collection purposes. Right now, we've counted north of a thousand. Now, you've got a situation where companies, especially with enterprise websites, are using a large number of tag-based components and solutions, and those are getting more and more complex by the day as the capabilities grow. What we provide, is a management system, a universal tagging system, so that instead of a customer deploying a tag or page code with vendor A, vendor B, and so forth, they just include a universal tag they deploy once. We provide a management console that a marketing person or non-technical person can log in, and deploy all of these digital marketing vendors on the fly, without burdening their IT departments.
How did you get into this, and when?
Ali Benham: We started as a consultancy. We starting seeing this problem as a consultancy, through some of our consulting engagements. We had many clients trying to migrate from one kind of analytics software to another. A little background, is that we came from WebSideStory. WebSideStory was acquired by Omniture, which was later acquired by Adobe. When Omniture acquired WebSideStory, they force lots of their customers to migrate from WebSideStory to their own analytics product, SiteCatalyst. We found that for customers who were going through that migration process, it was a technical implementation which had to involve IT. Our customers were getting IT estimates of nine to twelve months to do that migration. We very soon realized that there as a problem, and that's something we started to solve, initially as a series of consulting agreements. A couple of years ago, we productized what we had started doing, creating a solution for marketing people and non-technical people to do the same thing.
You just raised a round of funding. Why were investors interested in your company?
Ali Benham: It was a number of things. One thing that gave us the level of interest we had is the growth rate we have. Initially, we had been a little late to the game offering a product, but once we offered our product, because the product is very marketing focused as opposed to IT-focused, we saw wide and wide adoption of our solution, which got investors excited about us.
Does it help that you were all ex-WebSideStory?
Ali Benham: I believe it has. If you look at our management team, we're all former WebSideStory guys. It's been really easy for us to recruit talent and bring in the core management team. We all know each other, have been working with each other, and know our strengths and weaknesses.
What is it about your product that is driving its adoption?
Ali Benham: There are several reasons. One big reason is just marketing agility. A marketing team wants to be able to control different solutions, and not burden their It team with it. It's mutual on the IT side. They don't want to be necessarily be supporting marketing, and frankly, have more important things to do. So it's that marketing ability and independence. Two other things are cost reduction, invovling IT, which is an expensive resource to be tapping into. By reducing IT's workload, we're reducing costs for the organization. Another angel is performance improvement. That's kind of a side benefit of our solution, which is we can load those tags a lot faster than customers deploying them on their own. Sites perform faster, load faster, and faster performing websites get higher ROI and conversion rates. Another side benefit, is with some of the privacy and compliance legislation, once they are using our solution we can make sure they're complying with all of the different legislation out there.
What's the next big project for you?
Ali Benham: We're continuing to make the product simple to use. The target audience, in the end, is marketing. The simpler and easier our product is to use, the more intuitive, the better, so we're investing lots of effort in improving our product even more.