Finding the Key to the Customer

Adobe’s acquisition of Demdex within its Omniture business unit, AOL’s acquisition of The Huffington Post, Meebo’s acquisition of Mindset Media…the list goes on and on. Acquisitions occur within the online marketplace in an effort to better differentiate against the competition and offer a more holistic solution for advertisers, brands, and consumers. So what is this latest round of acquisitions telling us?

The ability to gauge insights about target audiences is in demand.

Be it leveraging back-end data platforms that feed advanced targeting tactics or the ability to reach influencers driving purchase decisions, it all comes back to the consumer. This begs the question: How do we best reach users in the mindset to gain optimal response and engagement? If any of the current acquisitions are indicative of where we find the answers, then it would be the data.

The power to aggregate and apply useful knowledge from third-party data providers with first-party website and advertising analytics data gives the knowledge and power to better define our target audience segments. In turn, the data provides insight into what type of content and messaging with which they are more likely to be receptive within the online advertising space. Additionally, data allows the opportunity to be knowledgeable about who comes to a brand’s website, what they do while they’re there, and how all of these things change with the economy, seasonality, and competition.

As more marketing dollars are shifted online, most campaigns include some sort of digital component, and with this bring a higher degree of accountability. Here within lies the data that attribution can help direct what is working in successfully moving the needle.

Are We Missing Something?

While data is a vital piece of consumer insights, we must not forget consumer empathy. We often take the data, interpret the results, and tell a story to guide recommendations. But what story is it really telling? Since data can come from a number of sources, it can tell whatever story you want it to – depending on what you are looking at and your objectives. There is always more data to add or additional caveats to discount when a theory or correlation does not hold true. Yes, data is wonderful, but human interaction and the ability to recognize the consumer’s problem first and foremost gives us direction and insight that the numbers simply cannot provide.

The ability to understand your customer from their point of view is essential in creating and maintaining a valuable product, service, experience, website, etc. The data may tell you what they did, but it can’t tell you why they did it. The data alone, the black and white or science end of it, cannot be enough to make conclusive recommendations and continue to bring value and generate positive results. It is a combination of the art and science that allows one to consider the dynamic of the changing environments in which consumers live and engage.

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