Age is one of digital advertising’s most basic demographic targeting parameters – but most of the age data available across mobile exchanges is unreliable, according to mobile data company Pinsight Media.
In a report released Wednesday, Pinsight, a wholly owned independent subsidiary of Sprint, found that 72% of ad requests on exchanges do not include age data. But even when ages are associated, 60% of that data is inaccurate. Pinsight declined to share the names of the exchanges it examined.
The open exchange isn’t always known for highly accurate data. Although there’s been a concerted cleanup effort, exchanges have been a notoriously lackluster source of location data, for example.
But age data, unlike location data, is a de rigueur targeting tactic – and as it stands, age data leaves something to be desired.
“If you start off with a faulty premise, the spend will become inefficient,” said Pinsight VP Kevin McGinnis.
In other words, even small errors can cause a series of cascading failures. Gender data, for example, tends to be fairly accurate. But combine that with an inaccurate data point and there’s a problem. If you think someone is 40 and they’re actually 25, it doesn’t matter all that much whether you know that person’s gender.
“Inaccuracies tend to compound each other,” said Matt Habiger, Pinsight’s lead data scientist. “And then hitting soccer moms of a certain age in suburban America suddenly becomes really difficult.”
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