Would You
Date Your Data?
Why data quality means better matchmaking (and more successful campaigns) for brands, agencies, and data providers
Chapter 1:
Marketers are romantics

Chapter 1

You wouldn’t know it from looking at them, but digital marketers are romantics at heart.
They spend time and money searching for people who tick all the right boxes, and then lovingly craft personalized messages just for them.
That’s where third-party data can be really powerful.
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In 2018, U.S. marketers spent over $ 19 bn on acquiring and activating third-party audience data.
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When a carefully targeted campaign hits all the right notes with a new audience, magic happens.
Except...
... it doesn't always work out like that.
Sometimes targeting a new third-party data audience segment feels less like a match made in heaven, and more like an ill-advised blind date.
Third-party customer data has a transparency problem, and it's time to clear it up.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2:
It takes three to tango

Chapter 2

Today, a lot of the third-party data market effectively runs on trust between brands, media agencies, and data providers.
Here’s how it works...
Data providers compile anonymized online and offline user data and group it into segments...
– based on observed, declared, or inferred user behavior.
Media agencies then use those data sets in media plans they pitch to brands looking to target specific audiences.
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That could mean segments like...
Men aged between 00-00 - , living within specified zip codes, whose car leases will expire in the next 6 months.
But right now, there aren’t enough guarantees around data quality.
No one’s vouching for the accuracy of third-party data.
And unreliable third-party data can make for some pretty embarrassing marketing
(not to mention wasted budget).

Chapter 3

Chapter 3:
When Gillette welcomed women to manhood

Chapter 3

“Welcome to manhood” had all the makings of a great campaign.
In 2017, Gillette decided to target the new generation of shavers – young men about to turn 18 – with a promotional package containing a free razor and a how-to shaving guide.
And then built their audience using third-party customer data that included teenage girls and middle-aged men and women.
What happened
Some names are gender-neutral.
And some people enter any-old-date on age verification prompts.
The data wasn’t verified.
Its origins may not have been transparent.
It was inaccurateinaccurate inaccurate data.
This kind of gaffe isn’t just embarrassing
– it demonstrates why trust alone isn’t enough to base decisions on.
Without solid facts, provable insights, and above all, transparency, you’re ultimately just playing a guessing game.
And you’re spending too much money to be guessing.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4:
Why bad customer data means bad blind dates

Chapter 4

Without transparency, quality and inaccurate third-party data are indistinguishable.
And that means marketers have no way of knowing whether their campaign is going to be a smash hit or a huge flop.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to verify the quality of third-party customer data – so you can be sure you’re actually speaking to the people you think you are.
Four data-quality warning signs

1. The data is old

Male, 25-34

Likes: Travel, adventure, bourbon, fast cars

1. The data is old

Male, 25-34 46

Being happily married and forgetting to deactivate his profile

Old data may have been accurate and valuable when it first came to market, but it’s just not a reliable reflection of the audience you’re trying to reach today.

2. The data is wrong

Male, 45-54

Likes: Waxing his luscious hair, conditioning his leather jackets, being 6’3”

2. The data is wrong

Male, 45-54 49

Wearing hats, lint rolling his sweater vests, standing on his tiptoes

Inaccurate data happens for a lot of reasons: the user accidentally or deliberately entered false information, or the data provider wasn’t rigorous enough in its validation efforts.

Either way, it's a waste of time.

3. The modeling method is unknown

Female, 27

Likes: Being confident, an introvert, a natural leader, a healer

3. The modeling method is unknown

Female, 27 46

Personality tests, Myers-Briggs, Astrology, Auras

For third-party customer data to feel like it refers to real people, it’s essential to know how it was modeled.

  • - Is it constituted mostly of directly observed behavior?
  • - How much is deterministic, or probabilistic?
  • - How much has been inferred?

All these approaches have their place, so long as you factor in their strengths and weaknesses into your planning. If your data supplier can’t provide a clear answer to modeling questions – think twice.

4. There are privacy/ethical concerns

Male, 47

Likes: Being handsome, being a good cook, being a good dad boyfriend

4. There are privacy/ethical concerns

Male Female, 47 13

Not telling her Dad about the dating profiles she’s made for him

This is a big one.

Now more than ever (in a post-GDPR world) it’s essential that your third-party customer data comes from an ethical, reputable source. Data providers should have demonstrable proof that every piece of information they work with has user consent attached to it.

But it’s not enough to just avoid bad blind customer dates.
You need a long-term data quality strategy...

Chapter 5

Chapter 5:
The answer is third-party data transparency

Chapter 5

A more transparent third-party data economy means data providers, media agencies, and marketers can become much smarter about reaching the right people with the right message.
But how do you know you’re dealing with transparent data ?
For a start, you can see the data is:
Recent
Demonstrably accurate
Modeled transparently
From a trusted source
The result is that running campaigns doesn’t feel like a blind date any more.
You’re more confident with what you’re walking into, and you already know what kind of results to expect.
More transparent data is essential for the whole industry to succeed.
It means...
...marketers and brands can quickly evaluate data quality and segment accuracy
which means...
...brands can develop real, reliable insights based on the performance of their campaigns
which means...
... media agencies can generate more value and build stronger relationships with the brands they work with
which starts with...
...data providers providing more transparency and engaging with third parties for verification
Perhaps, most of all, it means customers receive a better digital experience, created by smarter marketers.
Want to learn more ways to activate your third-party data?

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