Data-led targeting: it's time to get emotional

22 Aug 2013  |  Ian Woolley 
Ian.Woolley

Is there a way for brands to optimise marketing spend with accurate data-led targeting, whilst allowing publishers to maintain the value of their premium inventory? 'Emotive data' - capturing a person's personality, attitudes and motivations - could be the answer says VisualDNA's Ian Woolley.

Innovation in advertising technology means it is now technically possible to put a specific ad in a specific place at a specific time - for a specific price. Coupled with this, the explosion of big data means our understanding of the person behind the screen is getting better and better. Programmatic media buying brings this powerful technology and rich data together in one place.

In that light, it's not surprising that programmatic sales are growing, with the latest IDC report stating that 52% of UK digital inventory is now traded automatically. So why is it that so much online advertising value remains in direct brand campaigns - that is, where advertisers buy impressions direct from publishers?

It's all about data. For all the technology in the world, an advert can still miss the mark if the advertiser has little real understanding of the person viewing the advert, or what they actually want.
Simply put, advertisers trust that publishers understand their own audiences.

In other words, they have great data, and are therefore by extension the most capable channel through which to run targeted campaigns. Further to this, some inventory can only be bought direct as some publishers continue to withhold premium inventory from programmatic platforms, concerned that it may be devalued.

So while third-party data has the potential to power super-targeted, relevant advertising, neither publisher or advertiser is currently capitalising on the technology or data that's available.

Is there a way for brands to optimise marketing spend with accurate data-led targeting, whilst allowing publishers to maintain the value of their premium inventory? Perhaps the answer is surfacing in the form of emotive data.

Moving beyond the limiting demographics of age, sex and income, emotive data reflects a person's personality, motivations, outlook, interests and attitudes. Our method is to collect this data through opt-in personality quizzes, creating rich profiles, group people with similar traits into anonymised 'emotive segments', to power more relevant advertising.

We anticipate a growing demand for emotive data from both advertisers and publishers. Advertisers recognise the value of the right message in front of the right person in the right context - not just because it's a waste of time and money to talk at the wrong person - but because of the potential damage to brand reputation when things go wrong, as illustrated when Sky and M&S pulled ads from Facebook in late June.

In turn publishers need to prove to advertisers that their customers can be found, and reached, in their audience, and raise the value of their inventory. The inclusion of emotive data in inventory offerings can provide that proof and increase the value of ad sales; whether it's powering targeted high-CPM brand campaigns through ad networks or non-premium inventory through programmatic.

We all know brands want to connect with people on a deeper more human level, and there is huge potential in emotive data to bring together brands' customers and publishers' audiences using personality traits.

With the means to move beyond basic age and gender targeting, it's getting easier for advertisers and publishers to connect with an audience on the basis of who they are not what they are.


Ian Woolley is chief commercial officer of VisualDNA - a data company that recently launched emotive segments and audience profiling tool WHYanalytics.

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