We all know that data is the source material for ad targeting. Whether from Nielsen in the form of demographics for TV households; cookies that connote recent purchases or content affinities; social data that indicates interests or search history that manifests intent, an advertiser depends on vast amounts of information to place the right ad before the right audience.
As a result, programmatic systems are filled with data that determines whether to show someone an ad. Do they fit the right demographic? Are they in market for the product? Does their browsing history indicate an appropriate affinity? Check the right boxes, and that person is matched with the appropriate content. We call this “buying audiences.”
Ad Tech Can Add Insight
But that’s usually where the use of data for media planning ends – which means that half its value goes unrealized. Instead, ad dollars can, and should, do double duty as research dollars.
We can use the same signals that deliver ads to also drive customer research, thus allowing us to create a more holistic picture of an individual just by better utilizing the current exchanges and systems that are already in place.
We’re scratching the surface of programmatic’s true capabilities when we focus only on delivering ads and leave out insight gathering. For example – let’s say that a minivan brand wants to target moms over 34 with a household income of $100K.
But that doesn’t look too deeply into the target. With access to all the data points used to seek out a desired customer, ad tech can report back rich analytics on the audience reached and the audience that engaged, looking for adjacent affinities and in-market opportunities.
If the minivan advertiser could tell that the 15% of the moms who engaged with its ad were also interested in skiing, what would they do with that information? They might put a ski rack on a piece of creative and then show that creative specifically to a profile of “Mom 34+ HHI 100k+ Skiers.” Ad tech can be a window into audience segmentation, which is a huge untapped value.
The research opportunities to drive more informed ad buys and audience segmentation are endless. To take the minivan example one step further, what if 50% of moms also liked skiing – they might forge a new marketing partnerships with a ski or cold-weather gear manufacturer.
People Are Complex — And That’s a Good Thing
We are all much more than the right profile for the ad of the moment (or of the nano-second), and the data that the decision engine sees can be used as a mirror to reflect our other dimensions as well. If we believe that a great deal of a consumer’s interests are represented as data on their devices – search history, browser history, cookies dropped on the basis of content affinity, social activity, content shared – then ad-selecting algorithms that can identify a specific demographic and the advertiser’s requested psychographic markers will be able to accurately deliver their content.
But we are not just our demo and those few psychographics. We are complex individuals – and in addition to the data that places us inside the targeting paradigm, there is a wealth of data around our other interests and affinities.
Social media taught us that listening is as important as speaking. There’s a great untapped earful waiting in ad tech if only we pump up the volume. Every media dollar can do extra duty as a research dollar – you just have to ask.