Kochava honored in annual Knowledge Report

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(Courtesy photo)Kochava employees poses for a team photo at a recent Friday tea. The entire staff gathers on a regular basis to bond as a team and keep up to date on what is going on in the industry and company.

SANDPOINT — In a knowledge-based economy, “disruption” — innovation — is key.

Idaho recently paid tribute to companies throughout the state for their role in driving innovation by not only meeting current needs but anticipating unknown or future needs. Among those honored was Kochava, a Sandpoint-based company that provides attribution, analytics and optimization to mobile advertisers. The company was one of three honored in North Idaho — the others being North Idaho College and Chief Architect Software — in the state’s second Idaho Knowledge Report.

The 2019 report builds on last year’s report, which offered an overall, statewide view of what was needed to build a knowledge-based economy in the state. It offers, state officials said in the report, a deeper look at the state’s six economic regions on a number of different levels.

“Growth and connectivity are Idaho’s future,” officials said in the report. “Towards that end, close attention has been paid to the disruption tactics used by some of the most successful companies in each region.”

Idaho is consistently ranked as one of the country’s top locations for business and family, offering an affordable, pro-business environment and a superior quality of life. The future of Idaho’s knowledge-based economy is dependent on the continued success of the visionary entrepreneurs and companies that have brought the state to this point as well as the inclusion of new disruptive leaders and organizations, officials said in the report.

Officials said IKR found the state’s overall economy is a patchwork of regional economies. However, regional responses found several interesting patterns: access to talent is essential to continued growth, an updated and improved infrastructure is necessary to keep pace with growth and the state’s increased population, the state needs to continue building its economy with the assistance of its entrepreneurs and companies, and the state needs to continue to improve its quality of life.

Kochava was selected for inclusion in the Idaho Knowledge Report because of its success as a disruptive force in measuring the results of advertising to smartphone users. Used by some of the world’s largest companies and ad agencies, Kochava’s data tools and products enable the visibility into, and management of, billions of data points, millions of users, and hundreds of millions of dollars in lifetime value and promotional ad spend, the report notes. Those tools allow its customers to see and manage their data more effectively.

Coeur d’Alene-based Chief Architect Software, a leading developer and publisher of 3D architectural home design software, was the first to design and publish architectural design software for Windows and has expanded that system to the Mac and mobile platforms. Chief Architect’s 3D software uses smart building technology and makes it easy to create construction drawings, the report notes.

North Idaho College, founded in 1933, began transforming its vision to meet the changing needs of the region which natural resource industries began to lose their competitive edge in the mid-1980s, the report notes. A new vision and city and state investment in the community college jumpstarted a change in local business opportunities and NIC is now a metamorphic force in developing talent for those industries that are shaping the future of the region — software, aerospace, robotics, healthcare.

Being included in the report is an honor for the company, said Kimberly Manning, senior director of brand at Kochava, noting that the concept of disruption was coined to recognize how some companies and individuals have created such an innovative way of doing business that it completely changes the way business happens.

Uber and Airbnb are two well-known examples of disruptive innovation with each company completely transforming the way their industries do business in many parts of the world. In the mobile advertising world, that innovator has been Kochava.

“I think that in the mobile advertising industry, we’ve introduced a lot of different technologies that have been disruptive to the status quo and we tend to look at that bigger picture,” Manning said.

Because the industry model has been based on “last click,” it’s been easy for fraudsters to infiltrate the system with things like click-flooding that skew the results and give advertisers a false sense of what customers want, wasting advertisers’ time and money.

“You never see it and the reason they’re able to do it so effectively is that the model is based on last click,” Manning said.

What Kochava has done is to push to give advertisers a real look at what’s going on.

“We have tried to pull the covers back on what’s really going on and pushed in directions where it’s not popular and said, ‘This is broken, the system is broken. It’s not working for anyone and we should fix it,’” Manning said. “And so our fraud tools are an example of that.”

Those tools, which include the Kochava traffic index, analyze networks for fraudulent traffic and creates a public report for everybody — the networks and the advertisers.

“There’s a lot of different ways in how we interact with technology affects our decisions, and affects how we purchase,” Manning said. “What the advertiser really wants to know is ‘How do I meet my customer, where they’re at, and with what they’re interested in to give them things that are valuable to them.’

“Nobody really wants to spam you with things you don’t want. Advertisers know that’s not effective and they’re likely to lose customers if they do it so the problem with fraud, for example, is they’re getting inaccurate information about their customers in a lot of cases because it’s flooded with bots and kinds of fraudulent tactics,” she said. “There’s a lot of things we look at and see the reality of and come back and say, ‘Hey this model is actually incentivizing fraud,’ We’ve done a lot of anti-fraud technology to help advertisers by understanding how that system works and being able to look at where the problems are and show them how to eliminate likely fraudulent behavior.”

Another way Kochava is changing the industry is by creating a blockchain solution for digital advertising to combat a previous lack of transparency in the system.

“There’s so much technology behind it that a lot of people don’t really understand what is going on,” Manning said. “It creates the opportunity for fraud to be hidden very easily and there’s also an issue of sometimes you’ll have advertisers who will pay for a placement but they don’t have any way of knowing that the contract was fulfilled.”

Blockchain would help solve a number of the existing issues, she said.

Her husband, Charles Manning, Kochava’s founder and CEO, saw early on that blockchain technology could be a game-changer and began research and development into how to create effective tools for its digital advertising customers.

“That’s a very disruptive technology, potentially,” Kimberly Manning said.

The company also created something called the Kochava Collective, a mobile data marketplace that isn’t Google’s or Facebook’s or Amazon’s — networks often referred to as “walled gardens” because of the way the companies protect all of their data. That can make it hard for advertisers to know if their ads were effective or reached their target audiences.

Instead, the collective is based on independent networks and Kochava’s customers, primarily its enterprise customers. The data is used to track whatever the customers choose to look at. In addition, its Freeapp Analytics — a free version of Kochava’s basic tools — opens up opportunities for smaller companies creating a new app or game but don’t have a budget. In exchange for using the products for free, they give us their data, Manning said.

“So that becomes a free and clear mobile data marketplace,” she said. “We just hit 7 billion devices in that marketplace. It’s a very viable asset in terms of a dataset. It rivals Facebook and Google in terms of quality and accuracy of first-party data which we have permission to have. It sort of opens up a whole new avenue for us and it changes the game a little bit in terms of giving options to advertisers interested in expanding their audiences.”

Pretend your company sells dog food and you’re looking to add a new audience in a specific area. The collective’s data could tell you what kind of food people like to buy for their pets in that area, Manning said.

“There’s a lot of different areas where we’ve done things differently than competitors and they’ve been individually disruptive in different places in very positive ways in solving different problems,” she added.

Kochava also is partnering with other technology companies to create solutions to help advertisers combine mobile data with TV viewership. That billboard you pass may send location data if your phone is turned on as you pass. Then you see an ad on your phone or as you are watching your favorite show on your streaming subscription and are reminded of that billboard and go off in search of that product to buy.

The new tools being offered by Kochava will help its customers know that, so their advertising can be more targeted and more effective.

“Historically you have been guessing, based on pubic traffic through that area, you can say a certain percent was influenced by [the billboard],” Manning said. “But this is actual data because we are all carrying our mobile devices so it’s very interesting some of the new directions.”

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.

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