Unlocking The Tremendous Possibilities Of Audience Data

I don’t think it’s news to anyone that there is more readily-available audience data than ever before.

“From the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days… and the pace is accelerating.” – Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

In fact, according to Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt in the book, The Human Face of Big Data, the average person today processes more data in a single day than a person in the 1500s did in an entire lifetime. In the world of advertising, this data comes from many sources, including online browsing behavior and countless offline sources.

Recently, I renewed my auto policy with a nationally-recognized auto insurance provider. During this process, they informed me that that I would be eligible for a significant discount if I were willing to place a small device on my car that measured my driving habits. The details would then be viewable on a secure website that published analytics comparing my driving patterns to other drivers in their insurance network.

Now, imagine how much information is flowing to this insurance provider. They know who I am and what I drive including the make, model and year. They know where I live, how fast I accelerate, how hard I am on my brakes and more. This data certainly has value to the insurance company in pricing my future policy. How valuable might this data be to a local auto mechanic specializing in brakes or to a local restaurant that I pass a dozen times a week?

The truth is that there are several reasons why data will increase in value to marketers as 2014 develops.Maximize Return on Your Investment Arrow Matrix

Increase In RTB Inventory

The promise of real-time bidding has always been that advertisers could leverage data at the moment of impression to determine if they do or do not want to deliver an ad. Advertisers could determine their bid price and even manipulate the content of their advertisement.

In the early days of RTB, inventory was limited; however, in 2014, nothing could be further from the truth. According to eMarketer, RTB inventory will account for 29% of all digital display spending by 2017. Publishers continue to move available inventory to RTB to capitalize on significant demand-side growth.

Facebook’s entry into RTB with FBX and Twitter’s acquisition of MoPub are great signs of things to come. With more inventory available to demand-side sources, the value of audience data gets a boost.

Cross-Device User Matching

To quote a recent article by FBX creator Antonia Garcia, “Mobile Data Sucks Right Now.” It turns out that mobile devices and cookies are not the best of friends. Until now, targeting against audience data in mobile with any accuracy has been limited to first-party data collected and utilized by mobile apps. There are several reasons why this will change.

One development that will be a game-changer in 2014 is the expansion and improvement cross-device matching. There are literally mountains of interest- and intent-based data associated with user IDs or cookies known to a desktop or laptop. The ability to identify and target the same user on their mobile device based on their established data profile will significantly increase the value of data.

Migration Toward “Unstructured Data”

Anyone who has ever been exposed to PPC search marketing understands the value of unstructured data. In the world of search, a marketer can upload hundreds of keyword combinations and bid, report and optimize at the individual keyword level.

For years, display has leveraged data by grouping users into segments, a.k.a. channels, a.k.a. taxonomies. If an auto dealer wanted to target users who are in a “used auto intender” segment, they’d find themselves bidding and optimizing to users based on factors not associated with the data since the originating audience signal is locked away in an opaque segment.

In 2014, marketers will find new levels of success targeting against 1st party and 3rd-party-audience data leveraging technology that allows them to replicate the signal-level bidding and optimization that search marketers have long since perfected.

One look at the evolution of data brokers in our space tells us that, ultimately, unstructured data-enabled RTB is the Holy Grail. The data brokers who once had 10,000 segments now have 30,000 segments. The groupings get refined and sliced thinner and thinner. As display tech evolves to more closely resemble search, we will see the value of audience data continue to increase.

In my opinion, the story in 2014 has very little to do with who has more data or who has unique data. The story will be the steps taken by programmatic solutions to extract maximum value of the audience data on hand. Cheers to new ground being broken and to the continued success of online advertising pioneers.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column | Display Advertising: Programmatic Media Buying


About The Author: is the Chief Revenue Officer for Simpli.fi, a company quickly being recognized as the authority in search retargeting. Since the mid 90’s James has been involved in leading companies who are paving new paths in digital space.

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