The Little Known Reason Display Ads Are A Big-Data Angle (Agencies, Brands, & Pubs)

Digital marketers are lucky.

The term big data easily competes for one of the biggest buzzwords of the past decade, or more. You’ve heard things like, “every company is now a data company” or “data is the new currency,” but it’s not always clear for every business model how those philosophies are supposed to take root. Fortunately for those of us in digital marketing, ad-tech is the most advanced (and best funded) big data project to date. Google, Facebook, and essentially every other ad-tech titan is heavily invested in some big data strategy. To compete with each other, most platform data strategies aim to give their best advertisers (biggest ad spenders) more access to the campaign data created from running digital ads. Fortunately for small businesses, the trend towards walled gardens will un-lock much of the same insights for the little guys who go direct too.

In a big way, big data is responsible for driving the latest innovation in digital marketing (and other industries like AI). A few marketers have been onto the more robust abilities of digital data-driven campaigns for a few years, but the vast majority still over-look the big data angle in online marketing and only look to digital for its long-held and better understood benefits, namely improved costs, new interactivity, and device placement. It’s great how digital advertisers can track data, but many still fail to gather most of it and fully leverage what is available.

Advertising data is a real marketing currency.

Even though Facebook, Google, and many others make your campaign data available, they won’t exactly push you to look into it. Your favorite platforms have a conflict of interest here - if you run more efficient campaigns, chances are you are cutting ad waste and possibly spending less. Reduced spend isn’t in the immediate interest of your ad purchasing platforms. If you buy online ads, even smaller budgets can net hefty data sets that provide invaluable ROI saving insights. Most platforms allow their client advertisers to access the campaign data from their ad spends, but they don’t tell you very much about what all is available, what it is worth, or how to use it. From years of experience spending millions of dollars on digital campaigns for top brands, I’ve come to expect that your platform rep is only likely to highlight the tools and trends that equate to an up-sell, and there are always a few of those polished offerings ready for you in the “support call” agenda.

Though my work generally focus on larger advertising budgets for enterprising brands, let’s use a $1,000 budget for the purposes of this example. Recently Facebook CPMs average $7.19 meaning you’ve just bought 139,000 impressions. While 139K may not sound like a staggering number of impressions, each served ad impression actually contains its own 20+ data-points. To understand these data points let’s quickly consider everything that came together for a single ad impression to take place. For starters, it occurred at a time of day & day of week. Those are your first two data points. Let’s not forget the location which could be as granular as an IP address or as broad as a country code. It also happened on a specific type of smart device, running a certain type of OS, and in one of the various types of browsers (or apps) which displays the ads — hardware/software brands and version numbers are all stored for every impression. These more obvious examples represent your first 10–15 data-points for each ad impression you buy, and as the term CPM implies, you are buying by the thousands. All of the sudden, with our $1,000 budget we are talking about at least 2.78MM data-points. Is your $1,000 of data interesting yet? Make sure you are capturing it! Most platforms only hang onto certain parts of the data for so long cutting off access beyond your 7, 14, or 30 day historical view.

It is important to keep in mind how big data analysis can inform your brand beyond just the online bidding. Don’t ignore your existing big data. Get your $1,000 worth of data from every dollar you spend and have an expert help you learn to leverage it. An experienced programmatic marketer can help you extract the dollar value (in data) from your campaign spend. You are already paying for it!! In the next post I will outline an example of how to use some of those data-points mentioned above. ← here’s that

That’s it!

Any thoughts? Please leave a comment or get in touch if you have any questions. Usually deep in reporting and metrics, I’m new to writing, so please like and share if you found this interesting. Thanks!