Don’t leave your social media data trapped in walled gardens

Opinion A few years ago it seemed the rise of apps was unstoppable. With smartphones and tablets attached to everyone’s palm, the implications for marketers seemed clear: As consumers spend more time in apps and social media on their mobile devices, this is where marketers’ ad spend should be concentrated.

When the main apps competing for our attention are the social media giants, many then began directing spend in this direction, which explains why the IAB’s latest figures showed a 45% year-on-year increase in social media ad spend.

But mobile and social is only one side of the coin, and marketers cannot afford to neglect those parts of the web where so many of us still spend so much of our time; nor should they ignore the power of the insights learned from social activity and fail to apply them to their marketing across the web. This is especially important when you consider app downloads are falling fast – as much as 20% in 2016.

But this doesn’t mean the same insights gleaned from apps can’t be used across the web. In the past, outside of the “walled garden” ecosystems of the social media giants, digital marketers have traditionally relied largely on people’s web browsing behaviour, in the form of cookies, to target ads. Yet this is not only inaccurate, as the majority of cookies expire within just a few days, but also means marketers are unable to confidently reach users across mobile devices, where cookies just won’t work.

The rise of social, where consumers freely offer up huge volumes of highly personal information about their aspirations, interests, intentions and life events, is a veritable gold mine for advertisers. This in turn has enabled the industry in recent years to pursue “people-based marketing”, using this enormous pool of highly-relevant data to deliver campaigns that are far more personal (and more effective) than could ever be imagined a few years ago.

The insight provided by likes, follows, hashtags and mentions is invaluable, but marketers must appreciate two things. First, this information can only deliver its full potential when combined with other first- and third-party data to create an holistic view of each consumer; and secondly, that these insights can be applied across the whole digital ad spend, and not just on social media marketing but across the whole of the web.

With effective people-based marketing, that can combine social media insights with an advertisers’ own first-party data and social insight from dozens of social platforms, such as Viant Social, it’s possible to build profiles of individual users, their interests and personality traits, to deliver highly personalised advertising to real people wherever they are on the web, and whatever device they are using. If you know what brands or influencers people follow, their personality traits and their preferences for certain music, celebrities, sports, TV shows, movies, you have a much clearer picture of their behaviour.

The more you know about the characteristics and behaviour of your audiences, the more effective your advertising can be. The real power lies in combining all these rich data sources to create relevant, meaningful advertising that’s personalised to each consumer. Not only will this improve ROI for targeted campaigns, but help marketers meet the growing cross device challenge head on. 

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