How Advertisers Can Make More Out of Their Data


We’ve been told for years that advertisers need to be storytellers, but increasingly they need to be data scientists as well.

The old approach to advertising was to blast a campaign to as many people as possible and hope that some would embrace the message. The new understanding is that consumers will only gravitate towards messages that they find relevant. To do that, you need to unearth the best data possible.

This is especially true in the media environment of 2016 in which discovery is supplanting search. From the Netflix recommendation engine to Facebook and Twitter’s feeds, consumers are increasingly relying on algorithms to tell them something new.

In light of this evolving use of data, we encourage advertisers to look at data in three new ways: As a creative experience, as a means of targeting and as a mechanism to shape content.

Data as a creative experience

When marketers think about data, they often picture applying it to back-end KPIs -- that is a proof point. While this is a valid use of data, it can also be used as a creative element. We are just at the start of tapping the wealth of consumers data to provide better experiences for consumers, more creative ads and more creative topics. For instance, ads on mobile can use data about the weather to send very targeted messages, like “The UV index is very high. Here’s a coupon for sunscreen” or “It’s scheduled to snow again. Here are some quotes on flights to the Bahamas.” The goal is to break down consumers’ defensives by offering them messaging that is timely, accurate and says something surprising.

Creating products and content that consumers want

The time-honored way of creating products is to run focus groups, research the competition and then release your product to the world. This often doesn’t work. In the network TV business, for instance, the success rate for new shows is around 35%. For the first time though, advertisers and media companies can use proprietary first-party data from customers to offer products and content that consumers want.

Continued education and optimization

The ultimate impact of using data to inform your creative approach is better brand experiences. While we can work with our partner agencies to use data to make sure we’re hitting the right CPCs and CPMs, we can also collaborate to create better brand experiences, which are informed by data.

When talking about data, the creative approach often gets lost in the mix. However, using learnings from media companies about applying data to content production, we can help revolutionize our messages as well.

It has been said many times that today brands are publishers. To really navigate this current environment, you need to look at data the way publishers do.  For instance, via our Huffington Post unit, we work with clients on their own videos and can help them create custom made videos using data points around how we know our segments are going to react to the content before it comes out.

This level of data-driven confidence about a creative approach is new in the advertising world. We believe it will soon be the norm.

Dan Carroll,
Director, Programmatic Ad Products, AOL Canada

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Tags: advertising, data, creative, marketers, brands