“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 Joseph Lavan, vice president of data and insights at Netmining.
Online advertisers have a New Jersey diner-style menu of options for using data in their campaigns, with a glut of third-party choices, such a demographic, geographic, psychographic, in-market propensities and life-stage events. If you can think of it, you can probably target it.
But with such a wide array of data signals available for targeting and analysis, many advertisers have gotten wise to the fact that being masters of their own first-party data is the first step in making impactful decisions across outside data sets.
Many brands have been gathering customer information for decades, whether it be name, transaction history, length of stay, presence of children, etc. As more and more addressable media opportunities become available to marketers, using this data for consumer targeting is enticing, but it does not come without complication.
There are seemingly as many problems as there are data choices. Some brands are unaware of the data within their organization, while others hold onto CRM files to the verge of hoarding, making it difficult for agencies or technology companies to access the insights.
As consumer connectivity continues to evolve and cross-channel marketing capabilities mature, it’s imperative for marketers to assess the data they can access and then work to break down the walls to get comfortable within a new world of bring-your-own-data marketing.
Assess, Analyze And Activate
The first step is for marketers to initiate an assessment of the data their organization already has on hand, across all departments. The goal of these assessments shouldn’t be overly complicated, either. Think of it as understanding Y to solve for X, and ask, “What am I trying to achieve with my marketing program? Do I have enough data to know who my best current customers are?”
In such a data-centric world it’s hard to believe that this gold mine of data isn’t centralized by one department, but that is one of the biggest challenges brands run into in trying to piece together a string of disparate data sets. A companywide data audit is crucial for understanding what is available, and even more so for locating where the holes are. It’s only after that audit is complete that a marketer can begin understanding what the data says and the best ways to put it into action.
Every data point a marketer can hit provides one more layer of insight into the consumer. Direct mail lists, in-store visitation reporting and CRM data all contain different perspectives that can paint detailed and accurate pictures of customers and the media mix needed to reach them. Marketers may come to find that many of their presumptions about their consumers are inaccurate and they’ve been spending on third-party data and technology in pursuit of the wrong audience. By way of example, consider that not every Harley-Davidson owner could have doubled as an extra on “Sons of Anarchy.” Some are actually clean-cut suburbanites.
An analysis of first-party data reveals the true customer. Even if it’s a picture of a customer the marketer is unfamiliar with, uncovering insights on a nonendemic audience can provide more value than gaining a deeper understanding of the known.
The Future Of Addressable
Right now is an incredibly exciting time to mine for deeper understanding of customer data, as more and more addressable channels are available to marketers for targeting. Even if you set aside desktop, mobile and other traditional channels, looking how far TV has come respective to where it was few years ago and you can clearly see the growth of addressable media.
The ways to reach consumers will only continue to evolve, and as that happens, a marketer’s ability to get the most out of this bring-your-own-data era comes down to preparedness. By gathering the available first-party data and using it to pinpoint important consumer signals and construct an understanding of the ideal target, marketers will have all the insights necessary to jump into the deep end of cross-channel targeting as those capabilities become more widely available.