Privacy and the Data Funnel

Posted by Kate Jurras on Tue, Jul 31, 2012

CE resized 600For the July blog series, we asked some of Boston's greatest thought leaders to speak on a particularly complicated (but relevant) subject: tracking, targeting, and privacy. Their responses were surprising, fascinating, and applicable - and we think you'll find this series quite interesting! This post is by Chris Emme. Chris is the VP, East Coast for RadiumOne, an innovative digital media company that harnesses social interaction data through its own first party products and delivers audience scale for today's Intelligent Web. In this role, Chris is responsible for all Sales, Marketing, and Operations functions for the NY, Atlanta, Dallas and Boston offices. He works with senior leadership at all major agencies and brands across the East Coast and Southwest to bring innovative media opportunities for their digital marketing objectives. He has grown the team, revenue and regional presence from the ground up and has been a digital media devotee for over 14 years. He  is an avid tri-athlete and new father to his son, Tyler. @chrisemme

I rarely speak to people outside our [digital media] industry about the details of what I do. The reason I don’t is that when I get to the part about how consumer data is collected to target ads more effectively, their eyes get really wide and I can see a wave of anxiety come over them. No matter how many times I say that only non PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is collected and that the data is used to deliver targeted/relevant messages to them which about things they may be interested in, it doesn’t matter. Their mind is already in a place thinking about what they posted, commented on, shared, surfed or searched and they’re wondering what “they” know about him.

Privacy is important – you heard it here first – but education and understanding is much more important, not only for the general public but also, for marketers.

Big Data is buzzword du jour and, like many terms in our industry; it has been beaten to death and widely misunderstood.

Big Data is not about collecting the largest amount of data, but how that data is understood that is most effective for identifying audiences, targeting and delivering relevant messages.
There is a lot of “noise” out on the InternetP: so much content is being created, consumed, shared, commented on, searched for, and surfed than ever before. In fact, more of this “big data” has been created in the last decade than in the last 200 years combined!

For marketers, it’s crucial to understand the Signal to Noise ratio – this is the science of tuning into the pieces of data that have the highest value and tuning out the irrelevant “noise” that surrounds us online. A brand’s customers are online constantly sending these “signals” about their interests and their intent. They are doing this through the terms they search for, the pages they surf and the content they share. Being able to tune only into the valuable pieces of data allows brands to target an audience that is truly in their purchase funnel.

When we do this, it makes all the “noise” online irrelevant as we are only focusing on the important data signals and utilizing these pieces of information to target and deliver the right ad to the right audience.

Now, marketers don’t have to be concerned about leveraging the right data if they focus on the signal and avoid the noise. And my friend doesn’t have to worry about personal privacy, because only the relevant signals he sends are being heard, and all the other “stuff” is just noise; and nobody is listening to that anyway.