With Data, the Devil is in the Details

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Matt GravesIn this special guest feature, Matt Graves, Chief Data Officer at Infogroup, discusses how marketers can expand their target audiences and bridge the gap between business and consumer data through the use of offline publishers. Matt oversees all data assets of the company including data operations, data platform, and the expanding capabilities around the Infogroup Data Axle®, which connects information hubs across proprietary and third party data sources.

Marketers are often led to believe that all third-party data is the same. But there are tremendous differences between data sets that may be presented side-by-side in the dashboard or platform marketers use, and without an understanding of how the online and offline data is being procured and validated, marketers are risking their budgets and bottom lines on poorly targeted campaigns.

Why Probabilistic Data is Just a Starting Point

To minimize costs and time to market, many data providers compile probabilistic data. In simple terms, probabilistic data is like a best guess, feeding a number of anonymous pieces of information into algorithms that draw conclusions within a certain percentage of probability. Some probabilistic data is necessary– I’m not suggesting it should never be used. The challenge with this approach is that it spends marketing dollars based on assumptions that could be far off the mark.

Deterministic data is much closer to definitive proof, relying on known facts from a number of sources like login or registration information. If you layer on verification to deterministic data, you then have the best data available. The most successful marketers use deterministic data, or some combination of deterministic and probabilistic data to make the most of their marketing dollars.

The Necessity of Data Accuracy

To maximize accuracy, data is collected and verified offline, and then carefully onboarded into the digital space. Linking online data found based on web behavior and purchase history with human- sourced offline data optimizes targeting efforts for marketers aiming to take their marketing dollars as far as possible.

This process is even more intricate with business data, making human verification of data offline even more essential. Validating core pieces of information on a one-on-one basis via phone or in-person, such as company name, address, phone, website, category, primary contact, and whether or not the business is still in operation, is the best way to ensure data is accurate.

Despite that, many providers collect data through web scraping and other automated methods. But with more than 50 percent of small businesses without a web presence, this tactic is effectively blind to more than half the small business market. Further, more than 10 percent of all “new records” sourced from crawling alone are out of business or don’t represent an actual business. Knowing this, the value of verification is clear.

Offline Data: The Key Factor in Online Success

Offline, deterministic data coupled with stringent verification and onboarded for use in the digital space represents one of the gold standards in first-party and third-party data. The marginal increase in cost to know with near certainty the right audience is being reached is not a luxury. This is mission critical for any marketer that wants to maximize the ROI on their digital marketing dollars.

Marketers can spend a little more to reach the right people efficiently, or they can use the spray and pray approach with generic campaigns. While the latter may reach more potential customers, it’s the former that will reach truly qualified buyers.


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