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Catalina partnership taps TV viewing habits to learn what you might buy

Margie Manning

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Catalina's headquarters in Carillon

Catalina, a St. Petersburg-based digital marketing firm, has partnered with a San Francisco-based software and analytics firm, Samba TV, to better understand what consumers like to buy.

The goal is to give consumer brands a real-time view of how their marketing campaigns are performing, and allow them to make changes quickly to fine-tune those campaigns if needed.

It’s another step in an evolution for Catalina, once best known for the printed coupons handed to a shoppers at check-out in the grocery or drug store. The company has transformed into a big data operation, with shopper purchase data from 85 million households.

The partnership with Samba TV expands that database. Samba TV uses software embedded in smart TVs to collect data on what viewers are watching. Samba is one of a number of companies with “automatic content recognition” or ACR technology, according to Consumer Reports.

Jerry Sokol is CEO of Catalina.

Samba TV has data from about 20 million households, a Catalina spokesman said. The company’s technology was highlighted by the New York Times last year.

“The melding of Samba TV and Catalina’s advanced analytics capabilities and unparalleled buyer intelligence will allow advertisers to make more informed media and marketing decisions, leading to higher ROI,” Jerry Sokol, Catalina CEO, said in a news release.

The partnership is “a massive leap forward” for an industry that’s still using legacy tools and methodology, said Ashwin Navin, founder and CEO of Samba TV.

Ashwin Navin, CEO, Samba TV

“Now we have massive datasets integrated to take the guesswork out of media buying decisions and solve the cross-platform measurement problem once and for all,” Navin said.

Wes Chaar, chief data & analytics officer at Catalina, and Kevin Hunter, chief product officer and head of innovation, will oversee the partnership from the Catalina side. Catalina expects to hire several more people to work closely with its partners at Samba TV, a spokesman said.

Catalina is a privately held company that recently restructured its finances and emerged from bankruptcy in February. It has about 1,200 employees worldwide, including about 300 at its headquarters in Carillon.

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