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'Good Data' Works Well for IronPlanet's Latest Ventures in Digital Marketplace

IronPlanet's Chief Marketing Officer Matt Ackley discusses how social media and online marketing techniques can make events like the Florida Auctions a huge success.

Thu March 23, 2017 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Matt Ackley, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at IronPlanet.
Matt Ackley, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at IronPlanet.
Matt Ackley, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at IronPlanet.

Good data is as good as gold for any online business to be successful.

Matt Ackley of IronPlanet knows this and has made it his mission to ensure his company and its customers — bidders — know exactly what they're seeing and bidding on, as well as IronPlanet knowing exactly how equipment is selling.

Prior to joining IronPlanet as the company's chief marketing officer, Ackley owned a similar business and sold it to eBay. Subsequently, he went to work for eBay, and then Google. For the past eight months, he's brought his Web prowess and considerable marketing talents to IronPlanet. Specifically, Ackley is working hard to apply technology and online digital marketing to drive global buying action by helping to create new cutting-edge buying and selling platforms for IronPlanet.

“The fascinating thing in the heavy equipment market is that we are on the precipice of online bidding becoming more and more of a component,” Ackley said.

That was evident during the recently-concluded Florida Auctions in Kissimmee where bidders and industry veterans noticed that items selling online (but not on site) experienced no price drop-off — something IronPlanet is able to boast about because it shows the true power of online bidding.

Under Ackley's leadership, IronPlanet has been ratcheting up its “online play,” and in particular, how to get people to the site online.

Using Facebook

One of biggest surprises has been with Facebook's ability to draw bidders to sales.

“Facebook is a channel in which we can market this type of equipment, and it has actually proven to be an amazing channel for IronPlanet,” Ackley said. “Understanding Facebook's algorithm and realizing that much of it involves creativity is the key. You need to ask yourself, 'Are you changing the creative enough and most important, do you have interesting creative?' We work in an industry with the best creative around, so when you are constantly putting up images of big iron, that is interesting to people and it naturally works well with Facebook — and Facebook loves serving everyone ads. So, it's cost-effective and less expensive because of the creative aspect that we utilize to drive traffic to our website.”

Data Analytics Equals Pageviews and Conversions

Data is the lifeblood of business, such as how eBay, Google and Netflix gather data to tailor its services specifically to its customers, and IronPlanet is following suit because it's going to play a very important role going forward in the construction equipment industry, Ackley said.

The main goal is to measure traffic to IronPlanet's site. Page views and conversions are the gold standard to which all websites are judged.

“We have ramped up our analytics capabilities,” Ackley said. “We have a recent hire from eBay, who is our vice president of analytics and machine learning, and we've just started using this machine learning (and deep learning) to learn more about customers' needs, such as what eBay and Google do with their data.”

IronPlanet uses deep learning also called machine learning, to predict outcomes of auctions and can run simulations that use prediction models, which look at each piece of equipment and its own particular data, along with competitor data to determine and understand what a fair price for a given piece of equipment should be.

“After understanding the pricing, the simulation will then flag each item if the demand is not where it should be,” said Ackley.

IronPlanet tracks demand in real time to help predict how bidding for a given item should unfold. If the result does not match the price prediction, IronPlanet then knows that the given machine needs more attention due to its predictive analytics. The company also uses data that's been collected prior to the sale from advertising efforts to also determine how a given machine will do when at auction.

IronPlanet Unveils New Platform

IronPlanet recently debuted its new Marketplace Direct platform that offers advanced, self-listing functionality for larger-scale equipment sellers. Unique to the industry, Marketplace Direct provides an innovative listing and reporting solution that enables sellers to better manage their assets and directly control their listing management process.

With Marketplace Direct, sellers have an enhanced cloud-based platform to increase sell-thru of inventory, improve price performance and reach the most buyers through the channels of their choice.

“On the heels of relaunching allEquip with Buy Now and Make Offer functionality, and the launch of Truck Locator, which meets the needs of multi-unit and fleet truck buyers, IronPlanet is proud to announce another industry innovation that provides customers with unique, value-added services and a cutting-edge, technology-driven platform designed to improve return on investment,” said Ackley. “Marketplace Direct enables sellers to market equipment to their current client base in a private setting or publicly to IronPlanet's 1.7 million registered users worldwide. Through the process, we provide sellers with more control and choice over timing, price, and formats than they would receive in a typical live auctions-only setting.”

To learn more about this new platform, visit

Improving the Auction Experience Through Data

Yet another example is IronPlanet's use of QR codes, which the company includes in its auction catalogues, to assist bidders with finding virtually all there is to know about a given equipment item, including ownership history, work performed on the machine, preventive maintenance history and more.

The Sky (or the Cloud) Is the Limit

IronPlanet's intense focus on data-driven business solutions and using this invaluable information to improve the customer experience for both buyers and sellers should prove fruitful for the predominantly online marketplace. And quite literally, under Matt Ackley's leadership, as well as the efforts of the entire IronPlanet team, the company appears poised to lead the technological charge in the heavy equipment industry.—CEG

For more, information, visit

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