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How an Addiction to Red Hot Candy Led to 20 Years of Success

What were you doing back in 1999? Tuning into “Friends” or “ER”? Belting out Britney Spear’s “Baby One More Time”? Rocking cargo shorts? Like us, crying in your beer as the Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII?

Back in 1999, the co-founders of Digital Element actually worked together at another company in Atlanta (Arris). Executive Vice President Rob Friedman had a red hot candy addiction and the other co-founder was selling the candy to Arris’ employees, and they soon developed a bond over a mutual love of these fireball treats. In one of their impromptu brainstorming sessions, they came up with the idea of geotargeting web content based on IP addresses so that ads and content could be instantly delivered to online users across the globe. Back then, no one thought it could be done! The two raised venture rounds (AOL, Siemens, and local VCs), hired a team…and 20 years later, Digital Element is stronger than ever―having taken an initial idea and growing it into a global business that delivers geolocation data and services for applications ranging from localized content and ad targeting, to fraud prevention and digital rights management, to enhanced analytics and reaching mobile users―and more.

Digital Element’s data is used by many of world’s most recognizable brands, among them Facebook, Hubspot, eBay, Netflix, Pinterest, Twitter, BBC, Sony, Hulu, Adobe, Intuit, and hundreds more.

During the course of these last 20 years, Digital Element has continued to make substantial investments in diverse data sourcing (infrastructure, GPS, Wi-Fi triangulation, etc.); tested data-science strategies; technological innovations; and an extensive network of partners. As a result, the company has reached an important data-quality milestone: the ability to deliver 10 times more unique global locations than its nearest competitor.

Think about it. This is a substantial data game-changer, as websites, brands, security companies, ad networks, social media platforms, mobile publishers and broadcasters now have access to more pinpointed locations to precisely target connected users.

“When you consider that the majority of start-ups don’t make it past their fifth year and the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company is now less than 18 years, I feel very proud about the path we’ve chosen in terms of the evolution of our solutions,” said Friedman. “Our geolocation and IP intelligence solutions were engineered in Atlanta―before the city became a world-renowned technology hub. Our company was one of the few that came out of the dot-com bust relatively unscathed. And, we were making privacy-sensitive data available to companies before it became such an important factor in interacting with digital consumers in more socially responsible and respectful ways.”

Significant corporate milestones that have contributed to Digital Element’s success include:

1999:  First introduced NetAcuity® technology and pioneered the “geo-intelligence” or “geo-location” space

2001:  Introduced new databases, including connection speed, domain name, ISP, language and other characteristics about online users

2002:  Named Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum (and in 2003)

2004:  Issued patent for technology based on identifying location of Internet users to the city level utilizing IP addresses

2005:  Parent company Digital Envoy creates two business units: Digital Element and Digital Resolve

2007:  Acquired by Landmark Communications, Inc.

2008:  Keynote Assessment provided third-party validation for accuracy of location data and collection methods

2009:  Introduced NetAcuity Edge™, the first validated, global, partner-contributed geographic ZIP code and postcode level data

2010:  Opened first European office in London and expanded international sales team

2011: Introduced IPv6 geographic database to address accessibility issues

2012:  Launched NetAcuity Developer’s Edition for evaluation, small deployments and developmental purposes

2013:  Received accreditation for the geographic location identifications reported by its NetAcuity platform from the Media Rating Council (MRC); and issued patent for hyperlocal geolocation technology

2014:  Introduced NetAcuity Pulse™, the industry’s first mobile-centric IP targeting solution

2015:  Launched GeoMprint™, a new reverse geocoding solution

2016:  Received a GLOBE (Georgia Launching Opportunities by Exporting) Award from The International Trade Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development for expansion into Brazil; and became the only provide to offer a ZIP+4 IP-based targeting solution

2018:  Introduced industry’s first IP-to-Point-of-Interest (POI) database; and awarded MarTech Breakthrough Award for Best Geolocation Platform

Read the full press release to see how far we’ve come and to learn where we’re headed in the next 20 years.

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