Demystifying Data: Where to get it and how to use it

Last month I attended the Wild Digital conference in Malaysia to present a workshop on The Future of Digital Advertising. My main focus was uncovering some of the unexploited opportunities that exist around data in order to drive advertising on social and video. As mobile phone usage grows, we’re accumulating mountains of data just waiting to be used to enhance digital ad campaigns. But marketers need to understand how to truly harness the power of data to grow their business. Here were some of my key points.

Navigating the digital data landscape

Facebook and Google have put great efforts into building a comprehensive database of users which has allowed them to seize the lion’s share of the market. Last year alone, companies saw huge opportunities in digital advertising on Google and Facebook, which grew their market cap by over $120b. Their real value comes from linking all of their properties together to build a vast amount of data, which has the potential to make their native platforms extremely efficient and targeted.

Both tech giants have extended the reach of their rich data assets even further through Facebook Audience Network (FAN) and Google Display Network (GDN). This allows advertisers to utilize Google and Facebook’s rich targeting across 3rd party apps and websites. There are also other sources in addition to Facebook and Google that can be used to obtain valuable data on users. Facebook can be applied for mapping out demographics and interests and Google can provide greater behavioral data. However, critical data on location, app usage, call and text circles, web browsing, transactions and offline retail buys are data sets that exist outside of Facebook and Google. That is why advertisers should be looking for other additional sources to provide such data. These are crucial data points which allow even more targeted advertising, and in turn, greater ROI.

Make the most of your data

So where to start? Use your own 1st party data first. it is where you will have greatest insight into your existing audiences. Use your own CRM data to understand your audiences and segment them into relevant buckets to re-target, upsell, cross sell and more. From there, you can start targeting different audience segments, create lookalike audiences or target by affinity to acquire users on digital platforms.

Once you have a strong understanding of your own data, you can start to overlay it with 2nd and 3rd party data to create even more targeted and granular audience segments.

Understanding the relationship between 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data can be challenging, particularly when their applications overlap. However, in order to drive the most highly targeted ads, you need to be using all three in concert.

The beauty of having different data sets is that you can make your ad campaign even more powerful by combining your 1st party data with four or five unique data sets from other sources to be able to target a smaller, more specific audience appropriate for your ad.

Telcos and apps

Telecom companies and apps are two incredibly rich sources of data that can be used by marketers to gain user information. On one hand, apps are really powerful in terms of knowing what your consumption habits are, recognizing topics that a user is interested in just by tracking applications they often use. For example, we can easily identify that a user is frequently physically active because they frequently run around a park and use a particular sports app to monitor progress.

On the other hand, telcos, for example, can map a person’s affluence depending on their close networks, usage patterns, travel habits and more. Data from these providers are what we call unique data and when combined together, provides us with a 3D profile to allow segmentation.

Is all data accurate?

Some information given by different databases may not always be relevant to your campaign. Suppose you want to target frequent fliers for example. If a user frequently watches travel videos, it doesn’t mean he wants to travel. An airport employee will frequently visit an airport, however holidays aren’t high on their agenda. That’s why you should mix data to exclude irrelevant audiences, create audience subsets and target them accordingly.

Don’t forget to segment

In any business, consumers are classified into top, mid and low segments depending on their consumption patterns. So based on this approach, ask yourself, “am I using the right creatives and the right messaging? And,  “am I spending the right amount to acquire each audience segment?”

Targeting everyone and choosing to settle with lowest cost per install may be a reason why advertisers lose out on the harder-to-convince-market, but they could be the ones who subscribe to your brand for a longer period of time. Lifetime customer value should always be your chief metric.

In summary…

  • Be conscious about your data strategy – and ensure that you have one.
  • Understand your customers and give utmost importance to 1st party data.
  • Segment your customers into smaller, relevant and more targeted audiences based on their consumption patterns, LTV, or other relevant business metrics specific to your business.
  • From there build different ad creatives, messaging, formats and content to efficiently target different buckets of your customers.
  • Increase your reach and efficiency by layering different data sets available to you through your partners or data providers.

At Adknowledge Asia, our team of data experts consult our customers on their data strategy. We look at what data they have access to, what else they need and help them connect both ends. Very often, companies already have all the data they need. They just need professional insights to analyse and apply it strategically. That’s where we ensure that our experts are up to date on the latest options and offerings, and where the market is heading and how to pull in the right data to target their customers. From there, we execute tactical campaigns and drive real meaningful business insights which can be applied to social and video advertising.

Found this interesting? Have a question? You can get in touch with me here on LinkedIn, or send me an email at

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