Where in the world is Tala? Lauren Moores in Porto, Portugal

Ever wondered what it’s like to host a 24-hour challenge for a group of data scientists in the middle of Porto, Portugal? Lauren Moores, our Head of Data Analytics, can tell you!

Lauren joined the Tala team with a wealth of experience in “chasing data.” She also serves on the analytics and Hackathon boards of I-COM Global and recently wrapped her 3rd Hackathon — amid the enchanting sunsets of Porto, Portugal. Here, she shares how her time in advertising technology (adtech) informs her work leading data insights for emerging markets at Tala.

Lauren (R) pictured with Claudia Perlich (L) — Chief Scientist, Dstillery, USA

I-COM is…
A global forum for marketing data and measurement that consists of many member industry organizations, agencies and brands. It has evolved from an original media measurement focus to exposing emerging global data and technology to its members and attendees in marketing services.

Three years ago at I-COM in San Sebastian, we launched the first data science-for-marketing Hackathon. We had four teams using Twitter data to solve a marketing question in 24 hours. We have grown to running two parallel challenges at once with a total of 21 teams. The idea behind the Hackathon is to provide an opportunity for new and experienced data scientists to solve a brand’s marketing needs but present a solution that can fit many in the industry. For the teams, it’s a professional development opportunity and for the agencies and brands, and a possible pipeline of new data scientists or exposure to potential new solution partners.

My role as Co-Chair of the Hackathon is…ensuring a cohesive story.

Besides running many of the operational points for the Hackathon with the I-COM staff, my role is to ensure that teams present more than a model and data results. Teams are not only scored by their data science abilities, but by their ability to tell the business story to marketers and the general I-COM audience.

The most meaningful part of I-COM for me, besides seeing long-time colleagues and friends, is working with all the Hackathon teams. Usually three to four data scientists, the teams need to apply their expertise, collaborate and solve a very difficult problem in 24 hours.

A few hours later, they need to present the business case and results to a jury and their peers. They create a story out of something they received just 24 hours earlier and in some cases, provide more insight to a marketer than a consultant could present in 5 months at a higher expense. The best feedback I got all weekend was “the teams had such great fun!”

Why was Tala present at a conference for marketing science?
A good question!

The role of emerging data and technology in advertising is disruptive and continues to change how marketing reaches audiences. The role of emerging data and technology allows Tala to exist.

Tala was included on a panel called “Data Science in Real Life,” along with IBM, Dataroma, and Foursquare. I’ve found that our story fits in well with the adtech story. Tala hacks data to solve a problem that couldn’t be solved prior to changes in technology and data availability. Specifically, we use mobile data to make real-time decisions similar to any mobile or cross-device adtech platform bidding on advertising.

We reach our customers on mobile technology in emerging countries, using mobile data and our instant loan product to provide a financial identity. If — and when — we provide more people access to the financial system, our customers become integrated into the economy at large.

After the panel, many came up to me with comments from ‘wow…look at what you can do with the data!’ to ‘you brought tears to my eyes to know of the impact that you can possibly have!’

Like any attendee at I-COM, at Tala, we are creating something that hasn’t previously existed, and we’re all learning how to do it for the first time.

A highlight of my time in Porto was…

Spending time in a new country, watching people walk down the pedestrian Rua das Flores from the balcony of my AirBnB, drinking port and getting to experience it with one of the world’s best data scientists, who just so happens to be one of my best friends!

In addition, my time there solidified that joining the Tala team was the right choice. I can’t say it’s easy work, but I came here for the ability to change lives with data and technology.

Many of us data nerds advise non-profits, teach or volunteer to help others use data and technology to solve more altruistic goals. At Tala, it’s one and the same and I get to do both in one job.

Want to hear more from Lauren and how Tala hacks data? Hear her speak at Big Data Day LA on August 5th, 2017!