IAB Releases Online Data 'Lexicon'

With the growing reliance on audience data in online advertising have come questions about how data is collected and shared, how long it should be stored and what limits should be placed on its use. While debate continues around those questions, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has published a new guide to help media planners, publishers and data providers at least be able to communicate more clearly about data.

The Data Segments & Techniques Lexicon aims to streamline the ad-buying process by giving relevant parties a common set of terms and collection methods around the use of data to create audience segments for online campaigns. The effort builds on the IAB’s release of a data usage and control primer last year, which laid out how behavioral advertising works and some of the privacy and other issues related to the topic.

With the Lexicon, the trade group provides more hands-on instructions concerning employing data in behavioral campaigns. “This is very specific to segments and techniques for data collection,” said Patrick Dolan, EVP and COO of the IAB, and lead for the organization’s Data Council. "If looking at buying a segment, these are things you are going to want to know about it.”

The document outlines four broad categories for defining data segments:

Source: Where is the data acquired? Was it obtained through online or offline collection?

Attribution: What is the relationship between the data collector and the user? Was the data obtained by the owner of the Web site or from a third party?

Derivation: Which techniques are used to transform source data into a segment? Is segmentation based on information provided by a user or from observed user behavior and other inferred methods?

Modality: What is the temporal state to which the data is being positioned? Is the information descriptive of a user’s current state or is it predicting future behavior?

The Lexicon also defines the differences between terms like first- and third-party, “declarative” and “inferred,” and “predictive” and “descriptive” user data. It further provides examples of how campaign data fits into each of the four categories.

By addressing the questions raised in each of the four areas, advertisers and publishers can better avoid some of the confusion about data use that might otherwise impede campaigns. “This is about taking some of the complexity and friction out of the supply chain,” said Dolan.

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