With all of the latest advances in digital media, we are still in the infancy stage when it comes to data intelligence and informative decision making. Consider what is currently happening in the display advertising space. Data and media are continuing to diverge as two separate commodities. On one hand there are data exchanges making cookie files or user information available for purchase. On the other hand, there are media exchanges that make media available for purchase letting businesses use primary or secondary cookie files from other sources to make the ad decision.
This new divergence between data and media, coupled with the notion that bigger is better when it comes to data, makes for an interesting dynamic in today’s industry. Companies are looking to build their own, large cookie pools. In some cases, these are companies with no real technology or mathematical expertise. The natural assumption is that by having large data sets, it would allow for informative ad decision making and that assumption is absolutely warranted. But again, we are only in the infancy stage when it comes to data intelligence and information decision making so it is important to understand all layers involved while pursuing the “data” path.
There is an entire meta-layer between data and media, and that layer is around delivery and optimization. It’s the ability to marry delivery, performance, and backend metrics with data collection and custom audiences. Without this connection, data is meaningless. Imagine for a second you spent $5,000 on the latest and greatest Flat Screen High Definition TV, $600 on the latest Blue Ray DVD drive, but decided to use old audio/video composite cables instead of investing the extra $150 on some good HDMI cables. Your investments in the television and the Blue Ray drive aren’t even close to maximized unless an additional investment is made in the “connection.”
This is unquestionably one of the most important, yet most overlooked aspects of today’s ecosystem. Data is only as valuable as the intelligence or “connection” behind it. In the coming months, the companies that are positioned to efficiently collect and segment data and, more importantly, are able to tie that data in a meaningful way to media through enhanced delivery and optimization techniques, will see an increase in sales, margins, and ROI. By valuing audiences and media separately, there is also a new arbitrage opportunity available to those that truly understand the three aspects of data, media, and delivery.
At the end of the day, companies will need to make smart investments on technology vendors and third party solutions in order to help achieve their goals. As the economy continues to shake out, as costs and expenses continue to be cut, and as resources continue to be reallocated, it is all that more critical for companies to make sound investments that contribute to increased efficiency and productivity. In order to do this, companies will continue to turn towards “data” in order to make informative decisions, to both business and literal ad serving.
(Disclosure: The post can also be found at Lotame Learnings. Lotame is my current employer)