Rise Made Big Bets on the Staying Power of Media Data— It’s Paying Off Now More Than Ever

Before I was a marketer, I traded stock in the financial services world. It was the late 1990s, and the industry was transforming from the trading pits on the floor of the exchanges to computers. Suddenly, being the best trader wasn’t just about having a solid strategy and taking smart risks, but also how fast your computer could access the right data and send it back to the stock exchanges. Traders alike were in denial about what was happening and didn’t invest in the new skills required to adapt and compete in this new environment. Unfortunately, they were left behind.

Now, as I ponder tectonic shifts occurring in the marketing industry, I can’t help but think, “I have seen this movie before.” What’s crystal clear, if you’re paying attention, is that technologies, agencies or solutions that have relied on third-party or non-consented audience data are facing an evolve-or-die moment. 

Some Rise competitors have gone to market with an identity-first approach as their differentiator, leading with large proprietary data sets of individuals’ information to enable one-to-one personalized marketing. The value of a large database of email addresses with associated behavior and demographic data diminishes drastically, however, as consumers revoke their consent to be tracked.

When it comes to the future of audience targeting, there are many unknowns. It’s unknown, for example, how many people will opt into solutions like UID 2.0, and whether regulatory bodies will accept them as privacy-first enough. It’s unknown how consumers will react as they encounter non-personalized ad and website experiences. And it’s unknown how solutions like Google’s Privacy Sandbox will shake out. I’ll explore all of this in more detail in the next installment of “Late Night with Larry” and make a few predictions on what the future holds. 

But as I think about the future of audience targeting, I’ve come to an even bigger realization: While consumer preferences, regulations and walled garden players will influence how marketers get their messages in front of the right audiences, the need for ad sellers to measure and prove their impact will never go away. The ability of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Walmart, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and dozens of others to show advertisers the results of their investments will continue to evolve. This means that marketers will always have access to how each ad platform reports its success. This type of data, which we call “media data” or “performance data,” should exist no matter what. 

The ability to access and act on media data from advertising platforms is insulated from changes in privacy preferences because this data never touches PII or any one-to-one identifiable activity. Of course, the efficacy of these ad platforms and the results themselves will be influenced by the quality of the data they can use to target the right audiences as well as the level of visibility they have to end results. We’ve already seen the impact Apple’s ATT has had on Facebook’s ad performance. While brands can’t directly control browser and operating system restrictions, they can avoid the trap I saw many of my trading counterparts fall into— they can evolve. Today’s marketers can be on the forefront by taking the data and insights available to them in each ad platform and applying the lessons of what’s working across channels, audiences and tactics. 

Helping marketers find smarter ways to leverage media data to make better decisions is at the core of Rise’s Interactive Investment Management philosophy and the foundation of our Connex technology. I’ve always known that showing the performance data of each ad platform side-by-side was key to understanding where we should advise our clients to spend their next dollar. What we didn’t know, when we first began this journey, was just how indispensable this data framework would be as other types of data— like audience targeting data— became fundamentally altered. Rise and our clients have never been better positioned to tackle the changing digital marketing landscape thanks to the years we spent investing in and building the most robust, comprehensive and granular cross-channel data infrastructure in Connex. Fueled by this media data, we’re able to compare and act on an infinite number of performance insights across platforms, audiences, messages, locations, goal types, funnel stages and more— in real time. 

To better illustrate how we’re unifying, normalizing and comparing media data across platforms, here are a few typical scenarios:

1. A home services marketer with three primary personas wants to understand which ad platforms drive the best top-of-funnel engagement for each audience.

For each persona, Connex stack ranks engagement metrics like CTR and visit rate across each platform. The marketer can see that Facebook does a better job of engaging Persona A while YouTube is more efficient at driving engagement from Persona B and adjusts strategy accordingly in real time.

2. A CPG marketer is buying relevant non-branded product keywords across Google Shopping, Amazon Sponsored Ads and Walmart Advertising for their five highest margin products.

Connex shows metrics like total revenue, ROAS and CPC side-by-side for each keyword on each platform so the marketer can determine where they’re best off scaling spend— the right mix of Google, Amazon and Walmart for each product.

3. A B2B marketer wants to understand which funnel stage is worth investing in higher cost CPM platforms like LinkedIn.

Connex shows performance such as cost-per-visit and cost-per-lead form completion by funnel stage across LinkedIn, Google and The Trade Desk to illuminate which platforms make the most sense based on different funnel goals.

What these scenarios have in common is the ability to use a sophisticated data infrastructure to make full-funnel optimizations across audiences, messages and tactics by unifying and analyzing media data from each ad platform. The deprecation of audience data does not diminish our ability to make these insight-informed decisions. 

Ambitious marketers— I am speaking directly to you. Now is the time to get your data infrastructure in order so that you can glean the best insights from each of your ad platforms and use it as fuel in others:

  • Fill your programmatic contextual targeting keyword list with your best-performing paid search terms. 

  • Push spend to the retail media network driving the most efficient sales for your top products. Test which messages resonate with different audiences in programmatic for quick and inexpensive insights.

  • Scale the learnings to other channels and measure the impact. 

You have an advantage the ad platforms don’t— only you can see data across the walled gardens. Use your advantage. Or get left behind.

Let’s continue the conversation—  message me to talk more.

04/19/2022 at 09:52