THE ADNEWS NGEN BLOG: An unexpected love of data

25 February 2013

We all have that friend who is a serial ‘Facebook stalker’. Mine happens to be a really close friend from uni who shall remain unnamed. She has this insane ability to find the guy she met last night, whose name now eludes her, simply by trawling through the endless amounts of information available on Facebook.

Once found, she looks at posts on his friend’s walls, events he might have attended and photos he’s tagged in. By this stage she knows what he likes to do on weekends, how old he is, who his friends are and of course whether he’s in a ‘Facebook official’ relationship! Although I find her behaviour completely unnerving, I’ve come to realise how useful this digital trail people leave behind can be.

You see, one of my primary day-to-day tasks is to track my clients online campaign performance. In some cases, that even involves analysing the amount of attributable revenue our advertiser has generated during the campaign - you can’t tell me that’s not cool? Initially this data was all just a bunch of numbers, until I started to understand exactly what they all meant and the methods used to gather the data.  It’s absolutely intriguing, albeit a little scary when you realise the Hansel & Gretel cookie sized trail you leave behind you every time you use the internet.

I have no doubt that this is not breaking news to anyone who works within this industry. However, I do believe that the wider population does not completely understand the degree of information we collect from their internet usage habits, or how we use it. Our ability to target a consumer through the terms they search for, their demographic information, what their Facebook profile says about them and much, much more is completely fascinating. This explosion of online data has opened up numerous opportunities for marketers and made strategies such as behavioural targeting a commonplace aspect to every online campaign.

For a graduate entering the world of advertising, the exposure to all of this is completely eye opening. My expansion of knowledge of the digital landscape since starting work at UM has been exponential. I am now completely enthused and excited when it comes to analysing the numbers we’ve collected.

There are two reasons behind this enthusiasm. The first is that the data allows us to optimise our campaigns to enhance their effectiveness thus delivering stronger results and ROI for our clients. Secondly, we are able to deliver more relevant advertising to our audiences, which will hopefully enhance their online experience causing a positive reaction to our advertising.

The reason I chose to write on this topic is that I’ve been taught throughout uni that there are so many different and interesting aspects of advertising but most of these centre around creativity. What I didn’t expect was that I would find data to be one of the areas I enjoy most.

Oh and just to be clear, I don’t condone in any way my friends addiction to ‘Facebook stalking’, I simply have a greater appreciation of the value of data.  
Maddie Dutton
Account Executive

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