How Big Data Can Help Advertisers

Big Data Advertisers

We’ve published a series of articles in recent weeks looking at topics as diverse as how big data has changed air travel, how it can prevent world hunger, and how it is effecting space exploration – but what about how it is changing the industry with which we all interact every day – advertising.

Advertising is everywhere. Whether we like it or realise it, it is effecting almost every decision we make. A good advertising campaign can significantly boost a company’s sales, whereas as a bad campaign can irreparably destroy a brand’s reputation. What can those in the advertising industry learn from big data, and how can they use it to their advantage?

Advertisers have a problem managing the sheer scale of big data. The rapidly increasing number of technology devices per household now means that the amount of big data gleaned from various campaigns is almost infinite – it is quickly becoming overwhelming. The key to verifying and using the best data is validity.

Validity doesn’t refer to ensure all the data is completely accurate, but rather implies the importance of making sure that the data makes connections across channels and is relevant for the purpose to which it is being applied. It is making sure data is accurate for a segment in its entirety and, therefore, is giving insights that may not have otherwise been produced.

These improved insights are providing valuable new opportunities for advertisers. 2014 has seen the introduction of programmatic buying, where marketers can bid on advertising space in real-time to allow them to target an advert to a single consumer at a specific place, time or device. Analysts predict that by the end of the year almost two thirds of digital advertising will be automated in this way.

Map Behaviour

The increased validity of an advertiser’s big data also means the industry is now able to tackle one of its biggest challenges, the ability to effectively map behaviour between desktop and mobile. By using geo-location based data, companies will be able to hyper-target consumers with real-time mobile advertising campaigns before, during and after in-store. It will let advertisers capitalise on a lead at the right time and will provide a basis for data that can be used in additional campaigns.

Nonetheless, for some of the world’s largest companies this is already old news. British supermarket firm Tesco, the second largest retailer in the world, was an early adopter of big data techniques. It used its ClubCard loyalty program to predict and understand its customer needs and consequently drive both its advertising campaigns and in store promotions. So impressed were the company’s bosses that in 2006 they bought the company that helped implement the system, Dunnhumby. They have now added Sociomantic to their portfolio and will combine their investment’s data on 700 million online purchasers with Dunnhumby’s insight on 400 million in-store customers to create a first-of-its-kind database of more than a billion shoppers.

Although it feels like we are already living in a world where big data is all encompassing, in reality it is only in the last six months where advertising technologies are finally ready to meet marketers’ demands. Used correctly, big data can now offer powerful insights to allow the industry to reach consumers with a unified message across various channels, whereas in the past untargeted advertisements provided little value for consumers and poor returns for marketers.

By Daniel Price

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