Audience Data: Three Rules you Need to Know

Data con­trol is a hot top­ic this year with pub­lish­ers con­tin­u­al­ly updat­ing their poli­cies in order to bet­ter pro­tect their num­ber one asset – audi­ence data. As the vol­ume of restric­tions around the use of audi­ence data increas­es, mar­keters are being chal­lenged with find­ing new ways to not only enforce this leg­is­la­tion but also to adapt their dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strate­gies to enable them to meet their objectives.

For those of you unaware of such restric­tions, take a look at Google’s lat­est leg­is­la­tion ban­ning the use of third-par­ty data in Re-mar­ket­ing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA).

With this in mind, here are my top three Do’s and Don’ts designed to ensure you are mak­ing the most out of the audi­ence data you have avail­able to you today.

1. Under­stand the rel­a­tive val­ue of each audi­ence data source. Econ­sul­tan­cy recent­ly asked over 300 senior mar­keters to rate first, sec­ond and third par­ty data against 4 dif­fer­ent state­ments. As a reminder, first par­ty audi­ence data is defined, col­lect­ed and owned by your busi­ness. Sec­ond par­ty audi­ence data is defined, col­lect­ed and owned by a trust­ed part­ner and third par­ty audi­ence data is defined col­lect­ed an owned by a data provider (such a eXe­late, Visu­alD­NA etc.).

category of data

Source: Econ­sul­tan­cy – The Promise of First Par­ty Data 2015

Clear­ly a brand’s first par­ty data deliv­ers the most val­ue when acti­vat­ed against a mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. Data Man­age­ment Plat­forms (DMPs) pro­vide the infra­struc­ture for a brand to acti­vate all three type of audi­ence data there­fore, be sure to choose a DMP that has the abil­i­ty to col­lect and acti­vate the largest amount of your first par­ty audi­ence data as pos­si­ble. A good exam­ple is Adobe’s DMP, Audi­ence Man­ag­er, which has a native inte­gra­tion with the mar­ket lead­ing web ana­lyt­ics plat­form, Adobe Ana­lyt­ics. This allows the mar­keter to define and acti­vate first par­ty audi­ence data (both online and offline data) across mul­ti­ple third par­ty plat­forms (DSPs, Ad Servers etc.) with­in a uni­fied workflow:

dmp - data management platform

The chal­lenge is that there is often not enough first par­ty data to ful­fil all of a marketer’s needs (espe­cial­ly around new cus­tomer acqui­si­tion). That’s where sec­ond and third par­ty data can be used to help fill the gaps but be care­ful! Some publishers/networks, like Google, have begun to restrict how these addi­tion­al data sources are used. This leads me to my next point…

2. Gov­ern the use of your brand’s audi­ence data. Be sure to under­stand the rules and reg­u­la­tions around the types of audi­ence data you are choos­ing to acti­vate for every plat­form where you are choos­ing to acti­vate it.

Here’s an exam­ple of leg­is­la­tion regard­ing any brand’s use of third par­ty audi­ence data to tar­get Google’s RLSA campaigns:


This means brands are not allowed to send third par­ty audi­ence data to Google for tar­get­ing RLSA cam­paigns. The big ques­tion is how can the use of third par­ty audi­ence data (or any oth­er audi­ence data for that mat­ter) be gov­erned with­in a business?

Since the Data Man­age­ment Plat­form (DMP) is typ­i­cal­ly where this audi­ence data is col­lect­ed and sent out to third par­ty plat­forms, look here for con­trols on how each type of data is used. Set­ting the cor­rect gov­er­nance with­in your DMP will ensure your brand uses its audi­ence data in accor­dance with every third par­ty platform’s pol­i­cy and will ensure cam­paigns remain active and cor­rect­ly aligned to your mar­ket­ing strategy.

Adobe’s DMP, Audi­ence Man­ag­er, has 3 key fea­tures as part of the Data Export Con­trols it offers to meet these needs:

- Auto­mat­ed con­trols to com­ply with glob­al pri­va­cy poli­cies, cor­po­rate gov­er­nance & part­ner­ship agreements.

- Enable­ment of tru­ly cross-chan­nel mar­ket­ing cam­paigns to offer uni­fied, per­son­alised expe­ri­ences across a brand’s web­site, email, dis­play, search, social and video channels.

- Flex­i­ble con­trols for every user of the DMP which can be cus­tomised based on their indi­vid­ual requirements.

3. Enable your mar­keters to get the job done. Whether it’s the ana­lyt­ics team, the CRM team, the brand mar­ket­ing team or the per­for­mance mar­ket­ing team, there are many groups with­in your orga­ni­za­tion that will need to use audi­ence data in dif­fer­ent ways to meet dif­fer­ent objec­tives. It’s impor­tant that the gov­er­nance sys­tem with­in your DMP allows for flex­i­bil­i­ty across these teams so that each of them can func­tion with­in both your organization’s pri­va­cy pol­i­cy and those of every third par­ty plat­form your orga­ni­za­tion uses to exe­cute mar­ket­ing campaigns.

For exam­ple, whilst there might be restric­tions imposed on the Paid Search Team around using third par­ty audi­ence data to tar­get audi­ences in Google RLSAs, third par­ty audi­ence data can be used by the Dis­play team to run look-a-like mod­els to find new prospects who have nev­er vis­it­ed to the web­site before but look sim­i­lar to a high val­ue cus­tomer seg­ment (i.e. repeat purchasers).

Here are a few exam­ples of the types of gov­er­nance rules which can be con­fig­ured in Audi­ence Man­ag­er to ensure each team can meet their objectives:

data governance

With the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing ecosys­tem con­tin­u­ing to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s high­ly like­ly the leg­is­la­tion gov­ern­ing the use of audi­ence data will con­tin­ue to evolve along­side it. Hav­ing a robust, flex­i­ble sys­tem in place to gov­ern the use of your organisation’s audi­ence data will ensure a future­proofed solu­tion for success.