GTCR bets on future growth of marketing tech

Amid the new everything-remote environment, consumers are increasing their online shopping activity, making online marketing more valuable and visible.

GTCR has partnered with Scott Knoll, David Hahn and Michael Iantosca of Integral Ad Science to build Dreamscape, which will help marketers and advertisers make decisions based on consumer data, Craig Bondy, managing director at the firm, told PE Hub.

GTCR, known for its strategy of partnering with CEOs to build and lead new platforms, plans to identify a target investment behind Dreamscape, Bondy said.

The firm will commit several hundred million dollars to the marketing tech platform, investing out of Fund XII, which closed on $5.25 billion in October 2017.

GTCR plans to grow the platform through add-on acquisitions in the future, taking advantage of market fragmentation and lower valuations, Bondy said.

“It’s a very fragmented market and we think there’s going to be a time and opportunity for consolidation, especially with some venture-backed companies that may not have access to funding to support their business going forward,” Bondy said.

According to the investor, its leader partnership approach is especially valuable in the wake of an economic slowdown, when deal opportunities are harder to come by.

“Partnering with management teams and lining up great CEOs to be our partners is a very effective countercyclical way of preparing ourselves for the future,” Bondy said.

In the everything-remote environment, consumers are increasing their online shopping activity, making online marketing more valuable and visible.

“I think the coronavirus, if nothing else, has accelerated the move from offline commerce to online commerce,” Bondy said. “With increasing online commerce, there is an increasing need to get a picture of your customer across various fragments and the way they access the web, whether it’s through [the] open web or through apps, or through social networks, or chat,” Bondy said.

“Those are all opportunities to learn what your consumers are looking for and to collect the data in a way that helps provide data to marketers.”

Dreamscape plans to do just that; however, the business’s final set of functions will depend on its initial platform investment. The ultimate idea for the company is centered around extracting consumer data in a privacy-compliant way and then providing it to marketing professionals in the sector, Bondy said.

The plan is to leverage what the team has done successfully at Integral Ad Science, Bondy explained: “That is, to integrate into the marketing and adtech sector to get data, [and] use that data to provide insights, including benchmarking and performance scoring for campaigns, to drive actions,” he said.

Changes in consumer behavior, such as the transition to online shopping as a primary way to buy products, allows for those insights to be generated. According to Bondy, the consumer journey – from research to purchase to feedback – has become much more digital and trackable. Data can be valuable to brands and advertisers for decision-making purposes, he said.

The advertising sector, like other industries, is being impacted by the recession, the investor said. That creates the potential for more attractive deal values as well as engagements in discussions with companies that were not previously open to M&A, he said.

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