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How to make big data meaningful

With all the big data questions being raised by marketers, the answers are still unclear for most. But it's not just about the data; it's where you go with the data. In a Spotlight presentation at the iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, Texas, Nathan Woodman, COO and co-founder at Digilant, emphasized that as an industry, marketers need to rethink how to approach data.

In the battle for consumer attention, marketers need more than data ad technology to gain consumer insights and achieve marketing success. Woodman suggests looking at the data dilemma as people vs. machines. People are no longer the experts. And it's a mistake for marketers to think they are the expert when approaching an algorithm. "Just like a doctor versus an MRI, the doctor is more inclined to be wrong than the data collected," Woodman said. Instead, marketers need to become the pilot -- work with data -- and drive the data where it needs to go to be the most effective.

The tools and services offered at Digilant cater to this approach, offering clients "actionable data" to reach the best audience for a specific campaign. Here are five ways to incorporate this into your data strategy:

  • Get comfortable with the data algorithms.

  • Learn from the algorithms.

  • Feed the algorithms what you want.

  • Give algorithms breathing room.

  • Let algorithms make decisions.

Another way to look at the interaction between marketers and data is this: "An algorithm is like a teenager," Woodman said. "You want to influence it, but you want it to think that it's in control."

Digilant has one product, called "Campaigns By Design," that typically includes three components to help clients better understand and refine the data:

  • Page index: page, context, and relevancy

  • Audience index: relevancy of cookies

  • Boss: consists of the performance of the campaign

This breakdown of Digilant's approach -- a "white-box" strategy -- gives clients more transparency with the information collected and guides the advertiser and the future of the digital marketing campaign. To better illustrate this methodology, Woodman presented an automotive case study.

  • Page index: Input endemic auto URLs (relevant to the inputs) that will broaden the reach and scope of the campaign, which can be in unexpected domains. In this case, there was a substantial amount of endemic automotive on Flickr.

  • Audience index: The habits of automotive customers are revealed, clustered together through Digilant's technology, to provide solid learnings for the advertisers to better target its audience.

  • Boss: An algorithm shows the performance output of this campaign -- in this case, endemic auto.

Woodman strongly emphasized the importance of getting comfortable with the data even though it can seem messy. Ingest it to see what works for your advertiser, and what doesn't, to create the best results for the campaign.

iMedia Communications, Inc. is a trade publisher and event producer serving interactive media and marketing industries. The company was founded in September of 2001 and is a subsidiary of Comexposium USA.  ...

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