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Need a Map to the Audience Data Mine?
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
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Where is all this data coming from? Every day, as we get more entrenched
and successful with our digital businesses, the data keeps coming. What in the
world do we do with it, what value if any does it have and then how do I
Is There Really Any Gold in There?
Our Web sites, newsletters, virtual events and now tablet applications are
generating copious data that if we don’t figure out what to do with, we are
losing out on a great opportunity to understand our audiences and build a
better story for our markets. Smart publishers are utilizing some sort of analytics package and are deploying
resources around not only making sure the “data machine” works but actually have strategists analyzing that
data. This is just the start of the real opportunity.
Most publishers are well-schooled in what I call the “quantity” side of the data story. That is, they are measuring
and packaging for the sales team the traffic details: unique visitors, page views, visitation trends by time period
and the like. This aligns to the legacy circulation model in many ways, and there is nothing wrong with that,
especially in verticals where digital advertising is still in a nascent stage. The marketer is asking for this, and
most sales forces can take these data points and be comfortable enough selling the digital properties with
Acceleration of Data
However, the acceleration of “data knowledge” is getting faster, specifically on the buy side of digital
advertising. In many markets, the advertiser now wants to know WHO is visiting the publisher’s Web site.
Again, not too far off the old circulation story, but it is not as easy to measure the quality of site and newsletter
traffic and just who actually is visiting. Enter the newest wave of analytics and audience measurement services.
What always has been important to advertisers is the quality and relevance of an audience; now, publishers
have to step up to find out and verify that their traffic is what they say it is. While many advertisers have taken it
“on faith” that, for example, an insurance magazine with, yes, insurance agents read its publication, advertisers
now want you to actually prove it that those same sort of executives are visiting the Web site.
And by the way, tell me more about what they do on your Web site, too! After all, most advertisers are utilizing
sophisticated analytics services like Omniture, Coremetrics, or Google Analytics. They are expecting their
media partners to know everything about their audiences, just as much as they do about their own brand’s
Web-site visitors. Not an unreasonable business assumption, is it?
What this says is that publishers need to generate more detailed profiles of their audiences. Companies such
as Bizo, Scout Analytics and the major analytics companies along with Google, Omniture and Coremetrics can
be good partners to identify and map your property’s visitor demographics and how they engage content within
your Web properties. There are even a few publishers who are building their own database platforms that
combine their offline and online subscriber/Web site visitor profile data to understand just who is engaging their
brands and where are they doing it.
All this will answer the call of the advertiser. The publisher who isn’t in this game will be left behind.
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influential business executives are when it comes to their business AND consumer purchasing power. The
business audience we track comprise heavy buyers of technology, financial services, travel, and high-end
consumer goods to name a few categories. Probably not a great leap of faith here that this is the case, but it
helps when a third party can verify and recognize an audience’s veracity and value to an advertiser.
On the topic of consumer advertising, many publishers have tried to sell the category over the years,
specifically those media brands who own a niche comprised of high net-worth individuals. With all this new
Web-site audience data, it may be time to revisit this opportunity. All publishers need to do is get a handle on
just who their audience is and package them up to whatever appropriate demographic segment they fit. By
partnering with a comScore or similar third-party services, you can actually have an “index” to compare your
audience’s buying power against the general consumer population. And in most cases, the business consumer
will be a good target for b2c brands looking for another way to reach consumers via the business media route.
Also knowing the attributes of the audience and if there is value there for a “b2c play," publishers can elect to
work with an advertising network, aggregate all their audiences into a corporate network or sell direct if the
numbers are substantive enough.
Even if you don’t decide to sell b2c advertising as you build a more comprehensive view of the WHO of your
Web sites, you can at the very least sell those virtues to your vertical market advertising clients—maybe even
have a leg up on the competitors in the niche!
Publishers are getting very creative and taking risks, mostly out of necessity and now, as audience data is
coursing through their online businesses at an ever increasing pace, so, too, must the innovation on how to
utilize these new discoveries. If you know more about your audience, the more revenue you can generate both
for your core b2b advertising clientele and maybe even for some incremental b2c advertising revenue!
Bill Furlong is Bizo VP/business development.
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Another firm that has been a very important player in the b2c space and now has traction in the b2b sector is
comScore. It is conducting very comprehensive panel based research that allows a publisher to demonstrate
what his or her audience’s purchasing power is. In our own partnership with comScore, we are seeing just how