The data battle – how to make sense of the noise

Ben Sharp, MD of AdRoll ANZ
By Ben Sharp, MD of AdRoll ANZ | 19 March 2015
Ben Sharp

We all know there is no shortage of data for marketers. Data provides realms of useful insights around customer behaviour and habits. But, which should be a focus and how do marketers uncover the gold nuggets?

To begin, look within…

Not all data is created equal. Internal and external; each source has its benefits; however it’s a brand’s first party data (information from their website, CRM, subscription database, social channels or mobile apps) that is a marketer’s best bet.

Now, I know marketers have always had access to first party data, but it wasn’t until we saw a rise in online marketing that it became all the rage. It’s now more important than ever. Why? Because it’s completely unique to a brand and provides the strongest performance as it’s the only data source that actually allows brands to see such a strong indication of customer intent.

You see, unlike third party data, which provides users who ‘might be interested’ in a product or service, first party data shows exactly what a potential customer is interested in. It can also show how interested they are - did they look at that shirt for three seconds or two minutes and did they look at it in four different colours?

These insights help brands what the customer is looking for and then serve relevant, personalised content at scale, just when customers are ready to buy. Take the following example. A brand who serves an advert for socks to a previous customer who bought shoes is going to see more success because the ad will resonate more with the customer, than if they were to serve that customer a generic brand advert. Another thing to note is that the data can be collected and acted upon in real-time. Third party data on the other hand can be from any point in time.

So, how is first party data collected?

Retargeting was one of the first channels to leverage first party data and has really allowed marketers to showcase the power of this type of targeting. At AdRoll, this is due to the ability to segment audiences and leverage data across multiple channels such as desktop, social media and mobile. It provides a truly singular customer view.

To collect the data, a pixel is placed on a potential customer’s website which starts the process. AdRoll uses a smart pixel placed into the universal footer. The pixel allows the retargeter to collect the invisible bread crumbs potential customers leave across their site and determine what they find interesting to serve relevant, action provoking content.

Now I have the data, how do I leverage it?

What this means for marketers is that they can create a completely customised campaign for a customer based on the products and services they viewed and their level of intent, across lots of different touch points. And with customers becoming fragmented and having access to so many channels, this a pretty big deal for marketers.

A good example is one of our customers, VendHQ. The cloud software company wanted to re-engage visitors who browsed the website, but hadn’t yet signed up. After using their first party data to add mobile News Feed ads into their Facebook retargeting campaigns, they saw double the click through conversions for mobile app installs and a 1.20% click through rate on the mobile Facebook News Feed. The qualified new leads were not only their exact target audience, but they also got them at a 50% lower CPA than any other marketing tool they’ve previously used.

Their campaign was a great success, but I do want to highlight that first party data can offer more than just an increase in sales. Other brands also promote content and brand affinity. For instance, educational organisations and B2B brands are using it to build awareness among recruits and potential customers. Retail brands are using it to increase customer lifetime value with loyalty campaigns.

The data helps marketers meet multiple marketing goals beyond just identifying the customer’s objective. Brands can now take action and interact with that customer directly. No other data source can offer brands this opportunity. It’s a brand’s most valuable asset and in today’s world should be a marketer’s first priority.

By Ben Sharp

MD - ANZ at AdRoll

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