Commentary

Implementing A Data Strategy With Your Programmatic Buying

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 16, 2017
Diving into programmatic advertising without a data strategy is like charging into battle without using your archers. If you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan, you know this method isn’t effective. Yet many advertisers are eschewing a first-party data strategy for their digital media campaigns. In other words, they aren’t using their own data to guide strategy — nor are they using their campaigns to capture more data.

Often, marketers and brands that are relatively new to programmatic (or are letting vendors do it completely for them) don’t have a data strategy mapped out. Either they don’t know that they could have one or they aren’t sure how to implement it.

Sure, this is a gross generalization, but if you’re putting any budget into digital media, it’s vital to have a data strategy to maximize its potential. And if you consider data one of your greatest assets (and you should), it’s unthinkable to discard this golden opportunity.

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What Is Data Good For?

First-party data, which advertisers collect directly from customers, is a byproduct of every customer interaction and can be harvested from every touchpoint, including your Web site, mobile app, and support center.

You may be surprised at the boost your programmatic ad buying strategy will get when you capitalize on your first-party data. This data gives you customer insights and a deeper understanding of individuals’ preferences and patterns, which can be used to optimize campaigns and, thus, boost ROI. In fact, 81 percent of marketing managers surveyed by Econsultancy reported strong ROI when leveraging first-party data, as cited in an iPerceptions blog.

Unfortunately, many companies vastly underutilize this tool. Some don’t collect the data. Others store it but don’t use it to learn more about their customers. Still others readily give up rights and control over that data to partners.

Regardless of how advertisers want to collect, store, and analyze first-party data, any programmatic advertising efforts require some form of a data strategy.

A Well-Mapped Digital Data Strategy

Huge streams of first-party data are already being created (and lost) by marketers. Stem the tide with these basic priorities:

1. Establish your plan and goals. Figure out specifically how you want to leverage your first-party data. Do you want to upsell existing customers, reach out to new ones, or do something else? Once you have a road map of your goals, you’ll be able to focus on the first-party data that matters most, as well as how to pull insights from it and how to segment it. You’ll also be able to apply it to the right internal processes in your organization — who has access to it, and what are they allowed to do with it?

2. Understand your customers. First-party data is worthless unless it leads to insights. The goal of any digital data strategy is to accurately identify your customers, segment them into realistic groups, and reliably model their future behavior. You can then effectively adapt your media integration to resonate the loudest.

3. Plan for future data. Decide whether you will manage your data yourself or take on a partner to help you with the technical and logistical challenges. This affects how you staff  your marketing team and what technology you invest in. If you go with a partner strategy, just be sure to maintain control over that data so your partner can’t share it with other clients.

Once you’ve started maximizing first-party data for your own benefit, you can find ways to monetize it. For instance, a company in a complementary market might be willing to swap first-party data, essentially giving you access to a new set of customers.

If you didn’t already have reason enough, there’s never been a better time than now to plan, create, and execute your first-party data strategy.

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