Environics Analytics aims to modernize with new data lab

The analytics company wants to future-proof its offering and add speed that will let it get into attribution and measurement.

Environics Analytics has launched EA FuturesLab, a multimillion-dollar investment meant to modernize the company’s data offerings and update them with the speed needed for them to be used in areas like activation and attribution.

EA FuturesLab is a cross-departmental group of team members dedicated to several new projects including harnessing more big data that’s updated more frequently, blending disparate data through cleanroom services and connecting EA data and workflows to tools that clients rely on. The projects are being touted as a way to future-proof EA’s technology; currently, that offering includes analytics platform Envision and segmentation system PRIZM, which creates consumer segments based on things ranging from demographics and geography to behaviour and psychographics.

“Things are changing so much and so many people are using our data for so many different things that we identified a series of four or five individual projects to replace our core platform because it’s seven years old and needs to be modernized,” says Jan Kestle, EA’s president.

According to Kestle, the FuturesLab projects are “specifically designed to make sure that in a year and two years from now, we will have evolved our technology to the changing reality of the media and the marketing landscape.”

The company has already hired 30 employees – mainly programmers and scientists – with plans to hire dozens more in software development, data infrastructure and service programs.

“They’ll be cross-departmental, but we’ve already identified the places where we want to invest in technology and make EA’s data come out faster and more responsive,” she says.

Speed is one of the major areas the project will focus on. The company was mainly relying on sources that allow it to produce data annually, but it will be showing more data weekly and monthly so that clients can look at the effectiveness of campaigns in real-time. The projects won’t just result in more and faster data, but data “that can actually be used for activation and eventually attribution,” says Kestle.

“A lot of this technology allows us to make a much better estimate of the attribution and, yes, we are measuring the marketing effectiveness,” says Kestle. “We’re going to have tools that are going to be able to better measure attribution and ROI at the end of the day.”

One thing EA is future-proofing against is the “death of cookies,” although Kestle says that conversation is largely over (and adds that “there were never as many cookies available for ad targeting in Canada because the email address as the identifier was never really as available.”)

A big marketing challenge EA also has its eyes on is Canadian privacy laws, which EA aims to address by offering homegrown solutions. The company is working on ways to deliver “the most precise matchup between behaviour and eyeballs” and to “enable the technology to really make that connection.”

Kestle added that some technology built in other parts of the world doesn’t work as well in Canada, but thinks it’s unrealistic to expect platforms and other publishers to revamp their tools with Canada in mind.

“We think our job is to make the data and the connectors that we need to make sure that the ability to execute precision marketing campaigns in the digital world and also the omnichannel world can be as effective as possible,” she said. “We have been focusing on improving those tools so you get the most precise way of reaching a target. And do it in a way that’s obviously not only compliant with the laws but respectful of the trust between consumers and brands.”