Executive Profile: Jay Habegger is a believer that data is the driver for decision-making
Title: Co-founder and CEO
Education: Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, University of Colorado, 1991
Among Jay Habegger’s loves at his job running OwnerIQ Inc., a digital media company based in Boston, is its unpredictability.
Since its founding in 2007, OwnerIQ has grown into a firm with about $60 million in revenue and more than 200 employees, linking retailers, brand companies and retail manufacturers with rich digital data and display technology for their digital advertising needs. The company is part tech innovator and part digital marketer focused on so-called “programmatic advertising,” that is, the automatic placement of advertising based on a specific consumer’s web-browsing preferences and history.
It’s a data-centric business that places OwnerIQ at a key intersection of commerce that is revolutionizing the way media, online retailers and marketers target and interact with customers.
Randy Harrison, a marketing consultant and adjunct professor of marketing communications at Emerson College, said OwnerIQ is among a community of programmatic advertising firms that are reinventing the metrics and technologies that matter most to advertisers and their end users.
“It’s already big and it’s only going to get bigger,” he said. “We’re amidst a communications revolution and only at the beginning of the mobile revolution. The potential for growth for (digital advertising firms) is going to be insane.”
Habegger said programmatic advertising is not just about positioning on web pages or social-media sites. He said the field is branching out into traditional marketing platforms — billboards, TV, radio, retail signage — and will be increasingly embraced by all advertisers, regardless of the demographics and shopping habits of their customers.
“It’s all about scale and solutions,” said Habegger of digital advertising.
Habegger is something of a digital-marketing pioneer, having helped launch Boston-based Bitpipe in 1998, when advertising and marketing on the Internet was still considered a relatively new and daring way to generate sales. Bitpipe ultimately grew into a $15 million-in-revenue, 100-employee online distributor of white papers, webcasts and other services — and was sold to TechTarget for $40 million in 2004.
After spending a while at TechTarget and dabbling in angel investing, Habegger co-founded OwnerIQ in 2007.
A native of Colorado, Habegger’s father was a physicist and his mother was a nurse and housewife. But his father, who worked at IBM, instilled in him a love of science and mathematics, while his mother “was the gregarious one,” he said.
Habegger was quickly consumed by the emergence of the digital economy after graduating with a mathematics degree from the University of Colorado in 1991. He initially worked at ANS (Advanced Networks and Services), an early Internet pioneer that was purchased by AOL. He moved to Boston to work at information giant Thomson Corp. (now Thomson Reuters), helping to start up that firm’s Internet publishing unit. He later worked at Boston’s State Street Global Advisors, the money management unit of State Street Corp., helping the company to build Internet portals for clients.
This Executive Profile was featured in The Boston Business Journal on Friday, April 22nd. Also featured here.