Advances in Audience Buying: What's Next?

  |  June 2, 2010   |  Comments

Audience data can greatly enhance the accuracy of demand side platforms and real-time bidding. BlueKai's Omar Tawakol discusses data quality and the future of the data market in a question-and-answer interview.

As marketers and advertisers seek new ways to connect with their customers online, the use of third-party data has become more commonplace. Data providers enable advertisers to target specific audiences and better tailor their campaign content to reach valuable consumer segments.

With demand side platforms (DSPs), third-party data can be integrated into campaign algorithms and improve targeting capabilities. When this approach to audience buying is combined with real-time machine learning, performance patterns are observed and ad buying can become even more precise, resulting in potentially greater ROI for the advertiser. But with the rapid growth in use of audience data, our customers still have a lot of questions.

Those questions include: How can I determine the quality of data? How best can this data be implemented into existing and future campaigns? What's next for the data market and how can I keep up?

I sat down with Omar Tawakol, CEO of BlueKai, a third-party data provider and DataXu partner, to discuss the audience data market, data integration's future, and data privacy concerns.

Mike Baker: The market is seeing a lot of new data companies offering consumer targeting data. How can a buyer of third party data evaluate a vendor's quality of data?

Omar Tawakol: As a buyer of third-party data, there are five key areas to evaluate to determine the quality of data:

  • Scale: Data needs to be applicable to a large population in order to be effective.

  • Freshness: Data focused on purchase intent tends to deteriorate in value over time so make sure the vendor has high-volume sources of data that continuously drive fresh attributes.

  • High-quality source of data: Data is everywhere but only select websites can offer quality data that is indicative of near-term purchase. Look for data providers who work with these top tier sites and who instill strict rules around data qualification and classification.

  • Data categorical depth and transparency: Data buyers should be savvy enough to not settle for vague definitions like "in-market car buyer." Look for third-party data providers that enable granular audience definitions such as in-market to buy specific products and brands, such as a Toyota Camry.

  • Performance: Test, optimize, and see what data works and what doesn't.

MB: How do you see the market for online consumer data evolving over the next few years? Where is it headed?

OT: Over the next few years, marketers will become more aware of the availability and differences in data choices and having a trusted source of high-quality data will become more and more important. As awareness of data quality increases, a standard will develop around where to obtain the highest quality data for audience-based targeting. Marketers will learn to question non-specific audience definitions and demand transparency into what data is powering their online campaigns. As quality data becomes more accessible and manageable it will gradually be integrated into all DSPs, ad networks, portals, trade desks, creative optimizers, etc.

MB: How has the recent advent of demand side platforms and real time bidding affected your business as a data provider?

OT: The recent advent of DSP and RTB has helped BlueKai tremendously. As targeting decisions get closer and closer to the end consumer in shorter periods of time, having a reliable, high-quality source of data integrated into a DSP and/or RTB platform becomes critical. BlueKai has met this need by launching integration technologies and a comprehensive library of APIs (define) for DSPs to easily plug into our platform, which offers the added benefit of improved analytics and optimization across a broad audience base.

MB: Seems that regulators have their eye on data use online - how do you see this debate being resolved over the coming months?

OT: Increased regulators' attention is a good thing. We have always believed that the data economy cannot grow without clear, transparent communication and control to consumers. BlueKai has been at the forefront of bringing transparency and control to the consumer, while adhering to strict guidelines for data retention, precisely because we believe that is a good thing for the industry overall and the right thing to do for consumers. Increased regulator attention has created pressure for the industry to self-regulate. In the coming months, we should see specific guidelines set forth by industry organizations like the IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] and NAI [Network Advertising Initiative] to enforce standard practices around data use online. I think it is a great opportunity to educate the lawmakers and consumers about the value of online advertising tools and technologies that are available, which puts the consumers in control of their online experience.


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Mike Baker

Mike Baker is president and CEO of DataXu. He has been pioneering digital media platforms for 20 years and is a widely recognized thought leader in interactive advertising. Before cofounding DataXu, he was vice president at Nokia, where he created and ran Nokia Interactive. Baker came to Nokia through its acquisition of mobile advertising leader Enpocket in 2007, where he was the founding investor and CEO. Baker was previously a partner at venture capital firm GrandBanks Capital. He has also been executive vice president at CMGI and Engage Technologies, an innovator in online advertising and behavioral targeting. Baker holds degrees in law and telecommunications management.

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