Expressed Data: The Future Of Targeting

timmayerupdatedData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Tim Mayer, chief marketing officer at Trueffect.

For years, the display advertising space has targeted users based on inferred data, which is derived from the types of media people consume, rather than who they are and what they do offline. This approach relies on third parties that collect behavioral data across websites by using cookies and tags to determine the sites a user visits and the content he or she consumes.

But third-party cookies are on the decline, largely due to consumer privacy concerns. And with fewer cookies available, it becomes increasingly expensive to use them for retargeting purposes – and it costs even more to prospect for new customers. Fortunately for marketers, new forms of data, including expressed data, are becoming available.

Expressed data is more accurate and powerful than inferred data because it is personal information that the users themselves willingly provide to brands they want to be associated with. The brand can then leverage the data to further its relationship with the consumer.

Facebook Explores Expressed Data With Atlas Ad Server Launch 

Facebook has made expressed data available to advertisers on its website for some time. With the launch of its reinvented Atlas ad server platform, it extends the reach of expressed data beyond its site to the entire web. This launch has made all expressed Facebook data, such as demographic and psychographic information and a person’s likes – not a cookie – available across many external inventory sources within its ad network. I predict LinkedIn will follow suit and start providing a similar B2B offering in the near future.

Enterprises Activate First-Party Data

First-party data is typically collected from registration forms, on-website behaviors and metadata. Many enterprises are already storing much of this information in their technology infrastructure, but it is not connected in a way that makes it actionable for user targeting, programmatic bidding or creative decision-making in display advertising. More often, this data is traded with companies in parallel industries, such as hotels and credit card companies, to provide a more accurate, 360-degree view of customers and prospects, but this turns the first-party data into second-party data for those collaborating.

Mobile And Wearables To Provide Highly Expressive Data For Targeting

The rise of mobile is delivering another form of expressed data, bringing location to the forefront and tracking personal media consumption as people watch TV and video on mobile devices instead of traditional televisions. This kind of information will reinvent advertising for location-based businesses and help migrate TV dollars online.

Wearable devices will also start delivering expressed data and move it even further along the inferred-to-expressed continuum to include users’ hopes, aspirations, fitness and physical activity. Although there’s a market for high-tech glasses and watches, fitness devices are the most popular consumer wearable and therefore generate data from the broadest user base. This information can enable a ski store to target skiers with the right skis based on the number of vertical feet they’ve skied per day, or allow a restaurant to text a coupon to a nearby hungry office worker right before lunch time.

Looking Ahead

Before we start mourning the decline of third-party cookies and behavioral data, we should think about at all the powerful new expressed data that will be generated in 2015 and beyond. The key to higher-performing campaigns is not just access to these superior data sets, but also having the technology to make this data actionable at the point of delivery for ad decisioning, programmatic bidding and targeting.

Follow Tim Mayer (@timmayer), Trueffect (@Trueffect_Tweet) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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