MarTech Interview with Lisa Abousaleh, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Neutronian

Join us for an insightful interview with Lisa Abousaleh, as she shares her journey from the adtech space to becoming the driving force behind Neutronian.
MarTech Interview

Welcome to this interview hosted by MarTech Cube with Lisa Abousaleh, the Co-Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Neutronian. Lisa is a highly accomplished professional in the marketing and advertising industry, with a specific focus on data privacy and security. In this interview, we will delve into Lisa’s background, her journey into the data privacy and security industry, and the valuable solutions Neutronian offers to enhance transparency and trust in the marketing ecosystem. Lisa’s expertise and insights provide valuable perspectives on the evolving landscape of data privacy and its impact on marketers and consumers alike.

Let’s dive right into this interview and explore Lisa’s remarkable journey and the innovative strides Neutronian has made to shape the future of data privacy and quality verification.

Lisa, can you tell us about your background and how you got interested in the data privacy and security industry?
My background is in marketing and advertising and more specifically the advertising technology space. Prior to founding Neutronian, I headed up the advertising platforms partnership team at Comscore which was responsible for forming partnerships that would allow us to integrate Comscore data into advertising technology platforms so it could then be leveraged by agencies and advertisers for their marketing efforts.

Through that experience, I saw firsthand what it is like to be one of many data options “on the shelf” in these platforms and trying to find ways to differentiate your offerings from the others out there. Also through that experience, I saw a wide range of practices when it came to data sourcing, security, and processing. There are many companies doing the right thing and taking their responsibility seriously when it comes to handling and protecting data and then there are many others that are not which did not sit well with me – from both the business side but also as a user/consumer myself whose data is being collected and used, oftentimes without my knowledge or consent.

What inspired you to found Neutronian, and what problem does your company aim to solve?
We founded Neutronian to bring more transparency and trust into the marketing ecosystem. From the start we have focused on highlighting the good, those that are doing the right things when it comes to data quality and transparency, in the hope that this will encourage others to do the same and force those that are not currently on the right side of things to clean up their act. We want to help companies be rewarded for their efforts when they are taking the right steps to ensure that their data is high quality and privacy safe.

We also want to help the agencies and advertisers leveraging data be able to make better-informed decisions about the best partners to leverage to meet their marketing goals.

How has Neutronian evolved since its inception, and what are some key milestones you are proud of?
Neutronian initially launched with a focus on holistic data quality certification and that is still something that we are doing today. We have been able to build a solid group of partners that have undergone our audit process and have a few new partners that we will be announcing in the coming months so that part of our business continues to grow as more companies look to differentiate themselves based on data quality.

Outside of core certification, we have introduced our rating services which allow us to provide high-level, initial assessments of companies and website domains. Our latest release of our Data Privacy Scores included over 3,100 companies from traditional data providers and platforms to those with first-party data including brands, retailers, and publishers. I am very proud of our ability to scale this offering to a point where the data and analytics capabilities can be impactful for brands and agencies that are focused on privacy lead growth.

Another variation of our ratings that we produce is our Minority Ownership Verification solution which helps to validate that a website is, in fact, minority-owned. We believe that it is important to support diverse businesses and this offering helps agencies identify new opportunities to diversify their media spend.

How do you ensure that Neutronian stays compliant with ever-changing data privacy and security regulations?
Given the current state of data privacy legislation and what seems like almost daily issues that are uncovered, this requires a constant state of monitoring. Luckily with our background in verifying the data privacy of other companies, we are also able to apply these best practices to our own business. We have a great team of advisors and our own legal counsel that helps to weigh in on our data privacy framework and we review our guidelines regularly. We officially update our Data Privacy Score criteria quarterly but we are conducting even more frequent reviews as new regulations and examples of the things not to do when it comes to data privacy continue to be uncovered.

Can you share your views on how marketers can find valuable data in a cookie-less world?
There are lots of cookie-less options that marketers can leverage today, even before Google depreciates third-party cookies (whenever that ends up happening). Some are tried and true approaches like legacy contextual targeting solutions and others leverage recent AI/ML advancements. Neutronian offers a variation of our core certification that is focused on confirming that a data provider is not reliant on third-party cookies in their data sourcing and processing. Examples of companies that we have certified for cookie-less readiness are Affinity Answers, DoubleVerify, and Undertone’s SORT offering.

In your opinion, how can individuals ensure that their data is not misused in marketing campaigns?
When visiting websites and apps, pay attention to what data is being collected from you and how that data is being used. While it is not realistic to think that an individual will spend their time reading the privacy policy in detail for every website that they visit, paying attention to the notices that pop up when they visit a site or any time they are asked to opt-in to share your data in order to complete an action is an easy way to get a gut check.

If a company offers more details in this notice besides just the standard accept/don’t accept option, take a second to review the details about what data they are collecting about you and what your options are for controlling how your data is used. And if not for every website or app, be sure to do this at least when visiting sites where you might be asked to share sensitive or personal information.

Please share your thoughts on why it is important for governments and agencies to update digital advertising market regulations.
Given the rapid pace of evolution in the advertising and technology industries, once seemingly sufficient regulation can quickly become outdated. With each new advancement in technology and capabilities come new ways to commit fraud or take advantage of these developments. I might sound like a cynic but unfortunately, recent history has shown this to play out regularly. Not all bad behavior is intentionally malicious but it is often commercially motivated so it is important for there to be regulations that continue to evolve in order to keep this behavior in check.

Can you share any plans or developments on the horizon for Neutronian?
Data privacy will continue to be a big focus for Neutronian in the foreseeable future. We are looking for ways to expand our current offerings in order to provide an activation layer that can help with campaign planning and measurement capabilities to allow for optimization decisions based on privacy safety similar to how brand safety is leveraged today. We also plan to look for other data privacy applications outside of media in areas such as healthcare and financial services.

We also foresee the focus on DEI initiatives to only increase and expect our efforts to help shine a light on minority-owned businesses to continue to be a key way to support this.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Neutronian’s business and operations, and how have you adapted to the new normal?
Well, we officially did our first product a week before the world shut down due to the pandemic in March 2020 so we’ve had to pivot and adapt our business right from the start. The past few years have not been an easy road for most businesses but especially early-stage start-ups like ourselves. That said, we have been able to weather the storms by operating efficiently and remaining flexible throughout the various changes and challenges that were thrown at us. I think that we will continue to operate with this “quick and nimble” mindset going forward but if I am being honest it would be great to have a bit of stability at some point….not sure that is possible though in the life cycle of an early stage start-up.

How do you see Neutronian evolving and growing over the next 5-10 years?
Over the next 5-10 years the goal is to have established Neutronian as the independent verification standard for data quality and privacy in the same way that Moody’s and S&P are the standards for bond ratings today. We are also focusing on getting to a point where our offerings are integrated into all aspects of the marketing cycle from planning to activation and measurement. I expect that our growth will be driven by a combination of market adoption, ecosystem shifts, evolving privacy regulation, and technology advancements including finding new ways to incorporate AI and ML capabilities. I also think that there will be lots of new challenges and opportunities that will emerge as a result of these factors and we will need to continue to evolve our business to address those new needs.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the data privacy and security industry?
Be flexible – as a new, emerging business, you have the advantage over large, legacy businesses of being able to pivot and respond quickly to new client needs. I always use the analogy of a large shipping vessel and a small inflatable raft. Large organizations are like the shipping vessel, it takes a lot of coordination and effort to change their course. Small start-ups are like an inflatable raft that is much easier to shift direction and maneuver. Now there is a caveat here though in that you also cannot be too flexible otherwise your inflatable raft ends up ping-ponging back and forth and never actually gets anywhere.

Be resilient – there is not only one way to do something and not everything you come up with will resonate with your prospective customers on your first try. Listen to what your customers and prospects need versus just what you are trying to sell. Pay attention to what is being talked about in the news, and monitor privacy regulation updates. Use all of the information that you collect to help you go back to the drawing board to try again.

Tune in to MTC Podcast for visionary Martech Trends.

Lisa Abousaleh, Co-CEO and Founder of Neutronian

Lisa Abousaleh is Co-CEO and Founder of Neutronian, a SaaS company revolutionizing data privacy and quality verification. With a standard evaluation framework, Neutronian provides independent data privacy “credit scores” and in-depth quality certification. Boosting trust in the marketing ecosystem, their solutions empower marketers and brands to identify growth partners and reward privacy-compliant data providers. Lisa's extensive experience includes leadership roles at Comscore and J.D. Power and Associates, along with an MBA from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Oakland University. LinkedIn.
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