Steve Pardue
Steve Pardue

Those who know Steve Pardue, the VP and MD of Tealium in Singapore, probably agree that it is hard to not be influenced by his enthusiasm and charismatic presentation style when he talks about Tealium. We sat down with him to learn more about the world of tag management, creating supersets of enriched customer data and unified marketing. One word of advice upfront; this is a complex topic. But it is worth getting the hang of it.


The WebSideStory
Tealium emerged after WebSideStory, an analytics platform, merged with Visual Sciences and took over its name. Visual Sciences got acquired by Omniture, which got acquired by Adobe and was merged into the Adobe Marketing Cloud. Tealium was founded in 2008 in San Diego, California, by Mike Anderson and Ali Behnam, who worked together at WebSideStory.

Tealium started as a Tag Management System but has by now evolved into a platform that can collect store and enrich structured and unstructured data from different sources. This enables what they call real-time customer marketing and it helps companies unifying their marketing stacks.

If you would like to understand what tags really are, you can read this page on the Tealium website.


Stacking it up
Steve kicks off with the ubiquitous observation; marketing is getting more and more complex and you should be ready to deal with it. Martech itself is growing at an exponential rate. A survey conducted in 2012 by eConsultancy together with Tealium revealed that in that year websites had on average 14 vendor tags integrated in their pages. There are nearly 2000 marketing technology providers on the market, according to and that number is still growing.

There are of course companies out there who claim to have a complete end-to-end marketing cloud solution that can do basically everything. The reality is that most companies, for many reasons, have horizontal stacks of solutions that have grown over time. These stacks can deliver but only if there is a neutral player that can help you organise the various components effectively. To achieve that you would need to literally connect the data dots.

An additional challenge today is that most companies still work with relational databases that are often used in isolation. Those relying on shared third party cookie pools of data also know that this data is not very accurate. Then there is also a lot of data from the website and from mobile apps that is not collected at all.

In short, data is everywhere and while tags should be used to manage the flow of data and understand the flow of data across platforms, devices and solutions, ideally in combination with other data sources, the reality is that many companies forego the opportunity to collect a superset of data. It is simply left on the table, according to Steve.


Funnel focus
Steve continues explaining why most traditional DMPs are focused on top line customer acquisition. They use traditional segmentation methods, that aren’t necessarily real time. In addition they might have older relational database technology in place utilising a slow data supply chain.

But what Tealium suggests is to collect all the data generated by websites and apps plus what is happening around it, i.e. all the clicks and actions on a site, plus data from other sources like e.g. beacons in real time. Instead of collecting just the Facebook ID, you collect also the Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn ID. You create a complete and rich visitor profile based on 1st party data. Through this you move from event based knowledge to customer knowledge.

You can call this “building a real time data supply chain” and it allows you to act in the moment. Steve mentions the case as an example here. Ancestry had a reengagement conversion rate of only 5%. By creating visitor profiles and leveraging the super set of 1st party data for each profile, they were able to send reengagement emails and retargeting ads “in the moment”. At first they sent the email immediately upon abandonment of the site, i.e. within 200ms. They quickly found out that this was perceived as too fast by the visitors, so they set the delivery at 3-4 seconds. This happens to be just below the online attention span of 8 seconds, which is worse than that of a gold fish. But what is more important is that according to Steve the reengagement conversion rate grew 12-fold and is now at 60(!)%.

Steve says that this proves how powerful the use of data to drive marketing in real time can be. This way, by collecting all data, structured and unstructured and using it to create a visitor profile, marketing can focus on the conversion funnel. It can e.g. use it to influence visitors throughout the engagement process or the user journey to conversion.

At Tealium they are now talking about ‘atmospheric’ marketing. Through the use of beacons, or actually sensors, you can start tracking who is in your store and what these visitors are doing. Merging the offline and online world together, retailers can start to optimise the shopping experience. The retailer could know e.g. that someone who just walked in, has been in the store before and has spent time in front of one particular product.


That leads us to the question about marketers and content, with this new fast delivery capability, will they not be overwhelmed with developing content that can cater to these new ways of interacting with the customers. Steve points out that Tealium reduces drastically the time that was previously spent on working with IT to e.g. implement a DoubleClick campaign.

He mentions a workshop with a large brand, where they demonstrated in real time how, with the help of Tealium’s data stream, they could configure a DoubleClick advertisement in less than 30 minutes and without involving anyone from IT. Instead of running one DoubleClick ad every quarter the brand now had a new opportunity. They could now think of how many campaigns they would like to run and for how many new dynamic segments. Using a combination of an enterprise tag management solution and a real time actionable visitor profile comes with two advantages. There is more time to spend on the actual value add tasks in the area of content planning, measurement and analytics. Secondly it allows for optimisation of touch points and touch moments in real time.

Tealium calls this frictionless disruption. Steve explains that this is primarily possible because the super-set of data can be collected on the client side and without any heavy lifting by IT.


But is having a lot of data in one location not a risk? Steve answers that by facilitating comprehensive online data management, from definition of the data to the control of the distribution of the data across the digital eco-system, including the ownership of the data, brands are in a better position to manage data privacy compliance across markets. To facilitate this, the Tealium platform has a privacy component where customers can manage their privacy settings.

Steve then explains that because Tealium facilitates comprehensive data management and ownership, data can be used to fuel online real time action and it can facilitate the migration from one technology to another, without the loss of historical data, e.g. analytics. If someone wants to convert from Google analytics to Adobe Site Catalyst, Tealium can facilitate the conversion through the use of the retained historical data, so reporting in historical perspective is not interrupted.

Steve also refers to marketing cloud solutions from Adobe, IBM and Google. To unify the actions in these cloud stacks, all of them come with their own TMS. Adobe has what they call DTM and Google GTM. Interesting enough, Tealium says they can do exactly the same thing. But in addition it they claim to collect tags and data from other parties as well and again, combine this into a superset of data.

Steve won’t stop pointing out that with Tealium’s products you can actually collect all the data of a website. He explains that the click stream of a website can be captured completely. This data he says, is massive unstructured and ugly. He says they collect it using a W3C log format. Once you have it, it can correlate this with the customer data and build a super visitor profile.


Clients and competitors
Who is actually using this and with what kind of results? In APAC, Cathay Pacific is one of them, according to Steve. They use Tealium IQ, Audience Stream and the Event Store and Event DB. They claim to have improved their conversion rates as a result but do not disclose by how much. Other success stories include Deckers Brand, a footwear giant. They claim to have obtained a return on investment of 1500% on their cart abandonment programme. American Eagle, the apparel brand from the USA, uses Tealium to fulfil its omnichannel goals.

The list includes agencies and system integrators as well. The agencies are beginning to understand how they can deliver better marketing by using multiple sets of data on their clients.

So do they have any competitors? According to Steve, there a few out there like Signal and Ensighten when it comes to tag management. Ensighten has the capability to connect tag with data management, but according to Steve their architecture is not as flexible as Tealium. Where Tealium is completely client side based, Ensighten uses a hybrid client-server setup.


Future of Tealium
Tealium is growing fast according to Steve and is determined to lead the field in unified marketing solutions. In 7 years they have grown from 2 to 235 employees. Asia is important for their growth and recently they have signed up with Redmart and INSEAD in Singapore and with Tata and YepMe in India, among others. There is growing interest from the financial sector as well, plus agencies are beginning the consider Tealium as a tool too. “We recently hired a General Manager in Singapore, so I can focus on the evangelisation of Tealium,” says Steve.

We will follow the field of tag management closely. Other tag management solution providers can contact us to provide their view on this area.

Editor: Matthieu Vermeulen


Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!