Online marketers and publishers are turning to emerging data management platforms to go beyond mere personalization and extract more revenue from website visits.
You could call it the "big data-ization" of digital media buying and banner ad trafficking, but it is much more than that, say officials at Lotame Solutions Inc., the 7-year-old provider of Crowd Control, a unified data management platform that collects, unifies and analyzes site-visit data to create and enable real-time personalization for individual visitors.
Where traditional ad management systems are fairly cause-and-effect -- because you clicked on one type of ad before, that means you will click on another one just like it -- Lotame's platform enables marketers to look at a composite view that covers many variables: It can tell users that someone went to a site, but also what that person was reading, posting, sharing and searching. Still, don't call all of that "big data."
"The term 'big data' is not as much about the unification as it is about deriving insights from data that are actionable and useful," said Andy Monfried, founder and CEO of New York-based Lotame (pronounced LOW-tah-me). "[What we're asking is] how do you drive insight, and how do you make data actionable in real time to drive a better result than you would without it?"
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Users of Crowd Control are able to leverage the more complete picture of a site visitor's context to serve ads that could lead to more actionable results. For instance, according to Monfried, The Weather Channel uses the tool to combine website usage information with its proprietary local weather data and come up with predictions as to how changes in weather might impact consumer behavior and purchases -- like the desire to buy a generator or get a car tuned up.
Another customer, digital advertising agency Targeted Victory in Alexandria, Va., runs Crowd Control for clients that include the Republican National Committee and many other GOP-related candidates and organizations. Working from a database with information about all the registered voters in the U.S., Targeted Victory uses the data management platform to turn site visits into votes or other actions, such as donations and volunteering.
Michael Beach, who co-founded Targeted Victory four years ago, has found that beyond creating those actions, Crowd Control has the potential to change his business to deliver even more value to clients trying to reach particular individuals.
More data produces need for more content
"The data obviously is really extremely valuable in terms of just being able to narrow your targeting," Beach said -- and that, he added, is going to translate into increased demand for content or advertising that can be delivered. "So, if we had 10 people making ads in the creative process before, we are going to have 50 people," he said. "All these organizations are going to be building up their creative capacity."
All that user data coming into a site -- and that content coming at site visitors -- is going to invite data privacy issues. That's why Lotame recently announced a partnership with The Media Trust, a provider of advertising transparency, verification and reporting services in McLean, Va.
"There are a lot of companies out there that are [doing] what I call staying one degree above the ethical line of not informing people when they are taking data or dropping cookies," Monfried said.
The Media Trust's data scanning service enables users of Crowd Control to monitor cookies or other bits of code or tracking software that could be embedded into an ad, Monfried said. "It is a very big stake that I think is needed in data management, which is, who in fact is collecting the data."
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