My takeaway from both, and from many of my conversations after each event, is these top five reasons why 2010 will be the year that data becomes king -- and how to capitalize on the data movement.
1. The time has come. Everyone now finally understands that the right data drives conversions. It sounds simple, but the bulk of advertisers out there are not direct marketers. They haven't grown up in a world where data on their consumers was as easily accessible as it is today. The Internet is the first mass marketing medium where so much data is not only available, but also rich, meaningful, and so simple to obtain.
2. Figuring out the most meaningful data points that are critical to increasing conversion is the biggest opportunity for marketers. Which data points really make the biggest difference to your business? A panelist at one of the events explained that there are really two kinds of data that marketers should consider: data on intent and data on your audience. There is a lot of debate about which is better and which has more impact. At this stage, I think both are worth investigating. Retargeting of anonymous profiles is also the big buzz right now. There must be two to three dozen companies that boast these retargeting capabilities. The jury is still out on how privacy legislation will impact this piece of the industry, but it's definitely a sexy topic right now.
3. There is a fierce debate going on right now about privacy and the use of data by Internet marketers. Many in the industry are expecting big changes to the way advertisers and publishers disclose what they are doing with data and how they are using it to target their advertisements. More transparency is coming, and probably some type of opt-out for the consumer. I sure hope the industry keeps this simple. Some are expecting the FTC to take some type of action. Stay tuned.
4. One of the biggest mistakes a marketer can make when it comes to data is to overcomplicate the pitch, adding confusion to the marketplace. Clients are ready to talk data 1.0, but marketers are spurting about data 5.0. We need to follow the KISS guidelines when explaining how we use data to our clients if we want them to see the relevance and potential.
5. I still think the best way to target and the best way to build quality data points is to get a consumer to opt-in to the advertiser's database and gather self-profiled information that the consumer is willing to share. This creates the best user experience, and is the most transparent and straightforward approach. And for advertisers, it's the easiest to understand and has much longer-term benefits, as they can market to the consumer over time, and build their trust and loyalty.