Audience data has become essential to modern digital media campaigns – and not just for programmatic campaigns. Audience data affects all types of new digital media because it allows marketers to spend budgets more specifically and effectively by focusing on only on their specific target audiences.
Yet, most marketers do not know that audience data is not created equally. Not all provided data is actually good data. Advertisers and marketers need to understand the data that they are receiving and determine when is the right time to use this data – more importantly – how to use audience data.
How Data is Collected
Audience data is collected via first- and third-party cookies. First-party cookie data is obtained from cookies on websites, CRM systems, business analysis tools, etc. This is information that you have personally gathered about your consumers, including past purchases, downloads and overall interests. You don’t have to pay for this data since you own it.
Third-party data is audience data collected from third-party sources. This data is typically large-volume data that includes information about demographics and behaviors. Third-party data is sold on a CPM basis, and it gets more expensive when you add more layers or filters to the data. So getting down to the exact audience that you need to reach typically will cost you more than just “general” audiences.
What does this mean for marketers? Marketers need to set specific boundaries around their data and only use certain data points. This reduces the chances that your budget will be spent on bad audience data, i.e. the wrong audience. This can be just as detrimental to a campaign as not using any audience data at all.
How to Use Audience Data
Marketers need to be smart about how to use audience data. Here are some tips to ensure that campaigns are being run as efficiently and targeted as possible.
- While targeting down to the right audience is the goal, it is not always appropriate to add as many layers as possible to the campaign. It is that sometimes it is more effective to run more general audience campaigns, and then review your click-through data. This click-through data will help marketers understand what types of audiences are responding to their ads and narrow the campaign down from there.
- Some audience data is outdated. Verify that the data that you are using isn’t from older audience data. A recent survey showed that nearly 66% of survey respondents delete cookies after a certain period of time. This means, that the cookies that are being used may no longer exist, or the individual may not be using the cookie the same way as before.
- Sometimes marketers may only want “in-market” audiences. In-market audiences are those audiences that are currently browsing, researching or comparing products similar to the ones being offered by you. For example, automotive dealers/manufacturers need to reach people who are currently looking to buy a car since the car buying cycle is relatively short and not frequent. Therefore using data from people that have been in the market for over 30 days would be less effective than those who have been in the market for 10 days.
- Some data is fraudulent. This typically happens when the cookie data being captured is not completely right, or the cookie is not firing the correct way. Don’t rely on a single data source. In a campaign, you should try to find at least one other data source that has the same audience data available rather than solely relying on a single audience data source. A single data source could be biased, and no one single data source will provide comprehensive information about the audience or the target market. Multiple sources not only offer the opportunity to compare information, they also increase what is known about the audience.
- Never stop optimizing and tweaking. Throughout the campaign, marketers should always be experimenting, identifying smaller group segments and seeing how they respond. Based on this data, campaigns should be updated and optimized with the newest insights.
Audience data can produce great campaign results. Marketers, however, always need to question the data that they’re receiving, compare it to other data sources, review campaign results and optimize as needed.