Epsilon’s Journey in Revolutionizing First-Party Data and Privacy-Driven Advertising

Technological prowess, industry adaptation and team culture has propelled Epsilon to the forefront of the ad

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Dec. 30, 2023
Epsilon’s Journey in Revolutionizing First-Party Data and Privacy-Driven Advertising
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Two years ago, Joe Doran painted a vision of the future of advertising in an interview with Built In. He predicted a market pivot to first-party data, with Epsilon leading the way in developing privacy-by-design products.

As Epsilon’s chief product officer, Doran more than understands the transformative power of personalization in advertising. The vision he laid out in 2021 became a roadmap for how the company would reshape the adtech landscape.

“People want to have intimate experiences with a brand. They want to make sure the brand knows who they are, and the brand can actually react to them,” Doran said in 2021. And while some marketers have spent the intervening time scrambling to scale their personalization strategies, the Epsilon team continued to build martech and adtech solutions without solely relying on third-party identifiers, as the company already had been doing for years. 

Since 2021 — when it was known as “a software and service company that offered media activation capabilities,” Doran said — Epsilon has undergone a remarkable transformation, unifying its product suite to a singular platform that empowers marketers to recognize and reach their customers. 

Adam Skinner, managing director of global unified retail media, highlighted the significant evolution across the entire retail media landscape. He explained that, previously, retailers were using on-site providers to message customers on owned channels and off-site providers to reach the same customers elsewhere online. Those retailers are now seeking a single-source solution, which Epsilon can provide. 

The company’s commitment to innovation goes beyond meeting client expectations; it’s about setting industry standards. “We were the first company to offer a unified retail media solution back in 2021, and we continue to innovate our product,” Skinner said.

Doran’s mission continues to be supporting those clients in making a personal connection with customers. “I get up every day thinking about our clients and what they are trying to achieve using our capabilities,” he said. “We help clients manage their first-party data so that they better know and understand their best customers. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do to help unlock their data and insights to message their customers, whether they’re doing that in digital media, email, SMS or another channel.”

I get up every day thinking about our clients and what they are trying to achieve using our capabilities.”


Even with Epsilon’s support, clients need to stay internally aligned to ensure that available tools are delivering on the full potential of the technology. Dave Melnick, managing director of data platforms, emphasized the changing dynamics between chief marketing officers, chief information officers and chief technology officers on many teams. 

“The CMO, CIO and CTO need to be more aligned than ever before because the consumer — their customer — demands it through their brand experience,” he said. “Adtech and martech can no longer be divergent or seen as side solutions to a company’s operational systems. What we’re seeing now is an increase in the convergence of adtech and martech, as it has become critical to the growth strategy.”

In supporting that growth, Epsilon has stayed ahead of the curve in order to lead client conversations and help guide adtech and martech decision-making. For Doran, data deprecation and the elimination of third-party identifiers across devices and browsers have remained significant concerns, but Epsilon’s “Privacy by Design” approach keeps him confident that the company’s product solutions are prepared for the continued changes across the industry.

“Delivering solutions in these two areas has been our bread and butter for more than 30 years, and we continue to be at the forefront of the industry,” he said. “Most importantly, it ensures that our clients can rest assured that they are going to be able to reach their customers well into the future.”

Beyond technology and processes, the heart of Epsilon’s success lies in its team culture.

“We’ve created an intellectually curious, challenging and safe environment that allows us to develop the best possible products for our clients,” Doran said. “We cannot be complacent; that’s when your competitors catch up and jump in front of you.”

We cannot be complacent; that’s when your competitors catch up and jump in front of you.”


Whether the team is holding regular syncs to ensure they are staying focused and accountable on driving client-critical outcomes or hosting strategy workshops across the entire retail media team, staying in close and open communication is crucial to keeping the globally distributed team aligned and successfully collaborating.

A focus on the personal is more than just part of Epsilon’s tech — it’s also at the heart of the product team’s culture. A strong network of interpersonal relationships supports the team’s work and helps keep the structures and systems healthy and collaborative.

“Success starts with building relationships with people,” Melnick said. “You have to be a good listener and willing to get to know people so you can understand where they’re coming from as you work together toward a common goal. It really does take a village; you can’t do it all by yourself.”

Epsilon’s journey over the past two years is not just a narrative of adapting to industry trends but of actively shaping them by anticipating client needs. As the company navigates the ever-changing industry and regulations around data and privacy in the digital age, Epsilon provides its clients with the tools they need to succeed.

And looking ahead, Doran is optimistic about Epsilon’s trajectory.

“As we look to the future, we’re going to continue our constant drumbeat of new product innovation from our position at the center of Publicis Groupe,” he said. “I’ve been very excited about not only where we’re going as a company but the pace of innovation we’re setting for the industry along the way.”

Read MoreAt Epsilon, Longevity Through Continuous Growth Is Part of the Culture



Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Epsilon.

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