Harnessing first party data in real-time

15 Jul 2016

  • Analytics
  • Data

By JJ Eastwood, Managing Director Rocket Fuel ANZ

Most marketers have access to some kind of first party data, but the enduring challenge with any data lies in creating a framework to harness it effectively. The obvious route is to overlay your own data with some kind of third party data set (like demographics) to unlock the insights you need to maximise your marketing ROI. But there’s another alternative, bringing first party data together with real-time, user and contextual data – targeting the moments that lead to a conversion.

While conventional retargeting with first-party data is used to drive increased performance, it’s very often used in a simplistic way. Without a more substantive insights framework around your data, much of this retargeting spend is wasted on prospects that may match a demographic profile, but in reality have little substantive interest, or perhaps have already converted. On the other hand, leveraging real-time context and user data allows marketers to understand how interested a prospect is and offers the ability to reach them at a moment when they’re more likely to convert.

As an example, let’s consider some insights from the travel industry that offer a glimpse into how non-intuitive, real-time data can offer a fresh perspective. Rocket Fuel recently conducted research that showed that when it comes to booking holidays, on average, Britons book with 29 days to go before their check-in date, later than travellers from Italy (30 days), Spain (31 days), Germany (49 days), and France (54 days), as well as the US (39 days). What’s valuable here is not just knowing how these countries differ in their approach to planning their trips, but the stats force you to consider the very human moments that go towards booking at all.

I’m sure many of us will have experienced a sudden turn in the weather that’s turned weeks’ of half-hearted holiday research into firm purchasing intent. For travel marketers, this transforms a ‘maybe’ into a ‘live’ prospect in the space of a moment. This is the value of real-time data, and it’s one of programmatic marketing’s core strengths.

To harness it, marketers need to work with a media partner that employs models that can automatically identify high performing combinations of data, and determine their relative value. Scoring each moment against all the moments that have come before it, to accurately guess the users real-world context and serve the most relevant message.

The most effective ads are served at the most powerful time, so it’s crucial for advertisers to use first party data to identify non-intuitive links that will allow this to happen. This can include more than 11 million demographic, behavioural and contextual attributes – it’s not just location, time of day, current site, and current device that has a bearing on targeting. Recent events and long-term factors also need to be considered, such as ads clicked and websites visited that day, as well as browsing habits, purchasing behaviour, and interests. All of this is equally crucial in determining the likelihood a consumer will take the desired marketing action. Critically, that means being able to see the channel, device and objectives together, instead of in siloes.

It’s true that first party data offers a wealth of opportunity for marketers, but it must be combined with machine learning, behavioural, contextual and third party data in an intelligent way to reap the rewards. Only by blending the plethora of information can you effectively score every potential moment of engagement, constantly. This means that every subsequent opportunity has the benefit of the learning from every previous one. I believe it’s the best way to deliver optimal marketing performance.

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