It’s Time For A Data Intervention

Data-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 Jennifer Byrnes, associate director of data strategy and insights at Varick.

Facebook recently decided to shutter its partner categories feature, which many advertisers relied on for targeting via third-party data brokers. Google later announced a similar decision, limiting access to user data via DoubleClick ID.

Reaction to these changes seemed to fall into two separate categories: panic (see Acxiom’s falling stock) or indifference. For marketers who fall into the first category, I’m here to tell you that it is really a blessing in disguise. The industry is shifting to accommodate for user privacy, and there is no better time than now for a data intervention.

Data detox

It’s time to rip the Band-Aid off and stop using nontransparent third-party data – today.

Many advertisers already have data resources internally, such as sales or CRM data, that they are not using to its full potential. While third-party data has had its time in the spotlight, brands should be taking the steps to activate their own data instead of relying on inferences made by big-data companies. Marketers must build out a way to connect internal data and insights across their media strategy to align with their brand goals.

Examine relationships

We know the industry can get complicated and the number of partners a brand may work with can quickly become overwhelming. Brands must take a closer look at who they’re working with and what they are providing, outside of the simple performance metrics.

Partners should be providing valuable reporting and brands should be making use of it. If a partner is simply using data to optimize but isn’t providing actionable insights that can be used to set up customized targeting for campaigns, they are part of the problem, too. Brands must look for partners who have their long-term growth in mind.

Take action 

Brands should be applying insights from in-house sources and partners to a wide range of decisions, such as:

  • Audience development: Advertisers can find untapped audiences that have an affinity for a brand and learn about their unique behaviors to expand market share.
  • Marketing mix: Data tells us how our customers consume media; those signals will point to new mediums to engage audiences before competitors get there.
  • Messaging and personalization: Ad messaging should be appropriate for the audience being targeted. Sending a brand’s most valuable customers different messages than those sent to new prospects is crucial. And they shouldn’t shy away from developing a creative optimization strategy.
  • Attribution: Being able to apply data pertaining to a consumer’s purchase path is highly valuable. By analyzing a consumer’s online and offline actions, a brand can create lookalike models for future potential consumers.
  • Predictive analytics: Brands can take their data to the next level by predicting how and when their audience will take actions based on past behaviors. This can even translate to offline success.

Moving beyond third-party data might seem daunting for marketers who have been relying on it for so long, but in a quickly changing industry, marketers must always be willing and ready to adjust to see success.

While Facebook and Google’s recent data decisions opened the floodgates of concern for some marketers, it must also be seen as a positive turning point. By getting ahead and taking action, marketers can use the data, partners and insights at their disposal to expand their digital strategies beyond targeting.

At the end of the day, homegrown data is an invaluable resource that all marketers should be using. A data intervention can be as simple as some internal soul-searching, partner vetting and taking action to get their relationship with data as healthy and fruitful as possible.

Follow Varick (@VarickMedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Third-party data is only rarely cost-effective on a CPA basis once you factor in the incremental cost. Completely agree with you, Jennifer – this is a blessing in disguise and an opportunity for marketers to expand their playbook into more effective first and second party data options.