Why Digital Marketing Needs The Right Data


2017 will be a record-breaking year in digital marketing. For the first time ever, spending on digital marketing will exceed TV advertising spend [Zenith Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, 2017]. Turns out, that trend is showing no signs of slowing down.

As a result, digital platforms and tools are becoming more sophisticated, with Facebook in particular being heralded as the king of targeting. With all these tools at a marketer’s disposal, it might be tempting to assume that all the data work has been done and that any other data collection or analysis is superfluous.  

However, I feel this is far from the truth. In my last blog post (Data, Data, Everywhere) I started to talk about the importance of truly knowing and understanding your customers and prospects, and using behavioural science to help you achieve this.  Here, I would like to share more detail on this.

Clear Signal

Today technology is empowering the marketer to reach consumers in ever more sophisticated ways. For example, a Data Management Platform (DMPs) is an essential tool for today’s digital marketers. It integrates data across multiple sources, helps segment online audiences, and delivers ads to those audiences across multiple channels.

DMPs also house vast amounts of cookie information, based on the websites you visit and the ads you click. And they do so to work out your consumer preferences and (online) behaviours. These are particularly useful if, say, you’re trying to reach people who like TV drama with ads about an upcoming drama on your TV service. This is the case of Internet users giving a clear signal about their preferences – people who visit TV drama related websites, will likely be more interested in your drama-related service.

The Data and Research That Changes Behaviour

But what if the consumers you want to reach do not give a clear signal? Online data is powerful, but limited to well-defined online user actions such as purchases or website visits. 

What if you are trying to encourage a change of behaviour? In the example above, what if you are trying to encourage those who are interested in TV drama to go to the theatre to see a drama live on a stage? 

In this case, you clearly don’t want the already-theatre going public, or the people who are never going to go to the theatre no matter how much you spend trying to reach them. But you do want to find that audience that could be persuaded to go to the theatre. You want to hone in on a signal that does not exist digitally.

Enter, research and data science! At CA, our approach to this problem is to first identify the unique patterns of attitudes and psychometrics that would cause someone to consider changing their behaviour based on, say, a series of engagements through online ads about theatre dramas. This is done through our sophisticated research methodologies we have been developing over 25 years. Through developing survey instruments with our in-house behavioural science team we are able not only to identify what action someone says they will take, but the underlying controls, attitudes, norms, for example, that lead to the decision.   

We then combine this with extensive databases of consumer and demographic information, and analyse the thousands of data points of information collected with state-of-the-art data science techniques. 

With this potent combination of research and data science, we relate our target audiences’ inner behavioural motivations to the language of marketing. Before, targeting was based upon relatively unsophisticated indicators, such as demographics,; now through our research and data science, you can not only identify unique audiences, you can deliver high impact messages that significantly improve the  likelihood of success.  Better understanding = better targeting = better results. 

The Future of Digital Marketing

In this age of programmatic ‘data-driven’ campaigns all we seem to be doing is alienating our customers and prospects due to half-baked targeting. Just think, how many times have you been ‘chased’ around the internet by retargeted ads trying to sell you a product you don’t really want?  Here's what adding a layer of behavioural understanding and insight to your modeling, segmentation, and messaging can do. It allows you to truly target the right people with the right message at the right time.  Isn’t that what we really want to achieve?  

If you are interested in seeing our behavioural science in action, why not take our personality quiz at