Higinio “H.O.” Maycotte is the Founder and Chief Executive for Umbel. H.O. previously served in founding roles for several companies including the Texas Tribune, one of the first online non-profit media organizations, Flightlock (acquired by Control Risks) and Finetooth (now called Mumboe). As the great-grandson of the Mexican general who shot off Pancho Villa’s leg, H.O. embodies the spirit of a true revolutionary
Smart Data and Audience Identity — Or How to Monetize Your Audience Like Facebook
Media companies have one core task: connect with the audience. That’s it. That’s the goal. Do it well and that audience becomes loyal, bringing in the metrics that matter to boost your bottom line. In a digital world, though, it’s hard to know where exactly to connect with your audience, and doing so in every medium takes a budget that won’t necessarily give you returns.
In this arena, try to guess which platforms will increase views and time on page, or even convert — you’ll be successful only if you’re lucky. And news flash: most brands out there are guessing; cumulating likes, followers and views based on brand awareness or pure luck alone.
So, how can your brand ensure success? Simple: leave the guessing game behind.
The Surge of Smart Data
Enter smart data, the next wave in audience intelligence that gives businesses the power to connect with viewers on a truly one-to-one basis. Unlike big data, which can be overwhelming and ambiguous, smart data turns mountains of bytes into actionable pieces of information. It monetizes your audience no matter how or where they connect with the brand. No guessing needed.
Smart data starts with the individual consumer. Using identity, ideally by leveraging social logins via Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and/or Twitter, you can tap into your audiences’ digital DNA on an individual basis – all while protecting privacy and enhancing on-site user experience. In essence, you can do what Facebook does: serve your audience content and experiences you already know they are predisposed to like. Sound like a pipe dream? Not really.
Why Audience Identity Takes Priority
Audience identity is a foundational part of smart data, because with it, companies can understand customers on a granular level and tie previously unrelatable behaviors together. Audience identity credentials include social login data, registration data or any other kind of first-party data that allows a company to identify the exact consumer on the other end of each piece of content or ad. Facebook is the largest holder of first-party data in the world, followed by LinkedIn. Data is available from these giant social networks when you follow the rules, and when combined with a media company’s own first-party data, the possibilities for customization become highly sophisticated.
Media companies can utilize this first-party data with behavioral data to paint a detailed map of their audiences. From there, creating an intelligent acquisition, marketing or awareness strategy is easy. After all, you can clearly see what the audience wants and then deliver.
How It Works
There are many ways to put Smart Data into action, from optimizing communications, to accountability to sponsors with more meaningful metrics. Let’s look at how deep knowledge about an audience can allow us to monetize undervalued assets. Say a cable network notices that a reality TV show is doing particularly well among mobile app viewers. In response, you want to create more original content for that series, and will need to produce it exclusively for the app. How do you get signoff from your boss on this investment when it is much more difficult to monetize? Easy. Use audience data to identify key sponsors and secure funding for the series with a data-backed story to potential sponsors. In addition, your deep understanding of the consumer will help customize that content to the mobile experience and your engagement options, uniques and subsequent monetization potential will rise. The alternative might have included an off-the-shelf ad network or exchange, which would have likely yielded an unsuccessful project.
Retaining, Not Just Attracting New Sponsors
Smart data isn’t just about finding the ideal sponsor. In fact, smart data works to help you build a long-term relationship with your audience and your advertisers – and makes you more money – when you can offer extremely tailored channels for premium content and new inventory.
Let’s go back to the cable network example. Via smart data, you can see that web users are more into skydiving than hiking – which is popular with your app users. Your audience data for the app shows most people live in Miami, Austin and L.A., where college sports are popular and outdoor activities accessible year-round. Smart data connects the dots and provides reporting data based on specific needs and campaigns, to each sponsor. Ultimately the sponsorship grows (via data-driven audience acquisition), pulls in multiple monetization channels, and results in the retention metric your premium sponsors demand. Who doesn’t want better margins and higher deal sizes?
Smart data is the ability to ask and answer any question relevant to your content, your audience and the brands sponsoring this effort. With it, brands can fund more compelling campaigns, promote products to audience members who won’t just click, but who will likely buy, and actually monetize digital audiences with every new article, ad or outreach.
The Bottom Line: Context Is Everything
Generating alignment between your content, your audience and the brands that pay the bills is the key to running a sustainable media company. In today’s complex multi-channel world, smart data is the only way to bring your most timely and relevant content in front of your audience.
No guessing. No luck. Pure data.