Supercharging customer research through big data

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The ability to create and address unique audiences based on consumers’ behaviors when doing customer research can give companies a vital edge in digital advertising, with the difference in campaign outcomes “like night and day”, according to GeoSpock’s VP Product Management, Ben Manning.

Beyond the basics of trying to hit the right audience demographic, the ability to understand target audiences and their interests, behaviors and interactions – especially in the offline world – is fundamental to driving better outcomes and campaign effectiveness. Central to that is transforming vast swathes of data into an accessible and coherent form that supports the overall campaign planning, execution and reporting process, highly relevant to each specific company.

Campaign reporting can also benefit: data gathered and organized can allow companies to identify not only top-level ‘success’ metrics – which do not tell the whole story – but also a full view of the context that drove success. This provides valuable guidelines for future campaigns in terms of time, location, and audience interests and behaviors.

In this regard, two companies in the ad-tech world currently dominate, although Amazon is attempting to shake up the Facebook and Google duopoly which has left others scrambling around for a foothold.

“The reason why they are dominant is because of the data they have about consumers, allowing them to build a compelling picture of who they are and run targeted advertizing to those audiences,” Ben says.

“The trend recently has been for telecommunications companies to beef up their ad-tech stacks, bring their unique data into play and try to catch up and compete. Other players can compete and win if they’re smart with how they use the data available to them.”

Additional datasets

At the heart of campaign planning and customer research is defining an audience that is unique to the advertizer in question, within a given budget and goal. The more specific and highly refined that this is done, the greater the competitive advantage that can be unlocked.

“One emerging strategy for identifying a unique target audience is bringing several datasets together to enrich and contextualize your specific audience. This helps you carve out and address unique segments, bringing costs down and campaign success up,” Ben says.

Seeking such a competitive advantage can even apply to companies that have a hyper-local approach. For example, an advertizer may be keen to target ‘men in their 50s who like outdoor pursuits and live within five miles of a supermarket’ – all of which could be added into the data-segmentation process.

This campaign is already a world away from many campaigns run today that would simply be targeting ‘men in their 50s’, but could this target audience be optimized by targeting ‘men in the age range 50-55, interested in hiking and within 10 miles of a supermarket’? Making this process simple and easy is key to unlocking the additional value that’s on offer.

“We help with audience segmentation by bringing datasets together and empowering companies to test out different combinations, to understand the impact on cost and audience reach,” Ben says. “In comparison with working with fixed, predefined segments, it is like night and day, because of the accuracy, speed and flexibility that is available.

“We can help clients to unlock additional value from data, which can provide a more universal view of consumer behavior. What are the places your target audience regularly visit? How often, at what time of day, and where do they go next? Reducing the potential vast complexity and scale into something actionable and simple is the goal.

“In marketing, the margins are tight for return on investment, and the currency is data – and specifically being smarter with data than your competitors.”

Visualizing data

GeoSpock is able to crunch various datasets into visualizations that can be seamlessly interacted with – for instance filtering by audience characteristics, location behaviors or time of day – to predict the most appropriate types of consumers for a campaign. The subsequent extraction of the raw dataset, for instance, mobile advertising IDs, means the identified audience can then be addressed via media-buying platforms.

Operating effectively as a hyper-efficient query engine for extreme volumes of data, GeoSpock’s software can handle datasets of petabyte scale and beyond, essential for the scale of data generated within customer research and the digital advertising ecosystem. Results are brought to life by a unique visualization tool.

“We can help clients to make sense of the data firstly through a highly intuitive visualization solution meaning honing in on the audience of interest is quick and easy and secondly by enabling programmatic extraction of the entire identified data subset through APIs or SQL queries,” Ben says.

“The next step is targeting that audience directly, further deep analytics or machine learning applications that take the data forward, for instance, to build lookalike and predictive models.

“Ultimately, the outcome is greater intelligence into the whole advertising process, insights into who your customers really are and how to be as efficient as possible to reach more of them.”