/// In the Battle of More Data Vs. Better Algorithms, Better Data Beats Them Both

January 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital


Image copyright kentoh In a series of articles last year, executives from the ad-data firms BlueKai , eXelate and Rocket Fuel debated whether the future of online advertising lies with “More Data” or “Better Algorithms.” Omar Tawakol of BlueKai argues that more data wins because you can drive more effective marketing by layering additional data onto an audience. While we agree with this, we can’t help feeling like we’re presented with a false choice. Maybe we should think about a solution that involves smaller amounts of higher quality data instead of more data or better algorithms. First, it’s important to understand what data is feeding the marketing ecosystem and how it’s getting there. Most third-party profiles consist of data points inferred from the content you consume, forms you fill out and stuff you engage with online. Some companies match data from offline databases with your online identity, and others link your activity across devices. Lots of energy is spent putting trackers on every single touchpoint. And yet the result isn’t very accurate — we like to make jokes around the office about whether one of our colleagues’ profiles says they’re a man or a woman that day. Truth be told, on most days BlueKai thinks they are both. One way to increase the quality of data would be to change where we get it from. Instead of scraping as many touch-points as possible, we could go straight to the source — the individual. Imagine the power of data from across an individual’s entire digital experience — from search to social to purchase, across devices. This kind of data will make all aspects of online advertising more efficient: True attribution, retargeting-type performance for audience targeting, purchase data, customized experiences. So maybe the solution to “More Data” vs. “Better Algorithms” isn’t incremental improvements to either, but rather to invite consumers to the conversation and capture a fundamentally better data set. Getting this new type of data to the market won’t be easy. Four main hurdles need to be cleared for the market to reach scale: Control and Comfort. When consumers say they want “privacy,” they don’t normally desire the insular nature of total anonymity. Rather, they want control over what is shared and with whom.

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In the Battle of More Data Vs. Better Algorithms, Better Data Beats Them Both


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