Profiting from patterns in audience data

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Once upon a time, it was enough if audience developers could show the number of C-level executives on the subscriber rolls. As technology continues to develop and metrics continue to evolve, however, that comparatively shallow view of the customer is no longer satisfactory. Improvements in tracking the behavior of subscribers make demographic targeting much more focused and offer audience developers (and advertisers) a deeper view of the end consumer. And that deeper view can “offer powerful marketing performance gains, business insight and competitive advantage,” said Stuart Hayes, head of database marketing and analytics at the Financial Times. The Financial Times looks for typical patterns and interactions with the product that describe digital profiles of its subscribers. It's called the RFV, which stands for recency, frequency and value (page views). “We also try to spot unusual patterns and signals in the data,” Hayes said. “[For example, when] someone ... consistently visits the site on a weekly basis but then [decides to] visit every day: What might this tell us?” Hayes likened such analysis to detective work, saying the analyst must “ruthlessly keep demanding: "Why did they do that?' “ Examining such data can help advertisers target consumers very specifically by location and behavior. Bill Furlong, VP-business development at b-to-b ad network Bizo, said although audience behavior was initially only tracked by marketing companies, publishers are now starting to realize the power of their databases and their ability to leverage the long-term relationships they've had with their subscribers. “The brands are important to people, and there is a very high trust level there,” he said. “With all the ways that publishers relate to businesspeople, advertisers and marketers can find many ways to decipher the information.” As a result, Furlong said, he has seen an uptick in publishers hiring experts in analytics and expects that trend to continue. Data software provider Omeda's latest tool, Olytics, allows publishers to track the Web behavior of their customers. The company is working with digital-editions publisher Texterity Inc. to beef up the publisher's behavioral tracking to provide lead generation, target advertisers and hone editorial content, said Randy Renner, VP-sales and marketing at Omeda. “So the unknown majority navigating the website becomes known,” Renner said. “ "Executives' spend more time on page 6. Individuals in "Manufacturing' hit page 4 more than any other industry group. This behavioral-tracking functionality provides the "who' as well as the "what.' “ EE Times Group tracks simple metrics such as engagement with its newsletters, e-mails and website content, but it also monitors complex behavior that, for example, shows time spent in webinars and courses taken at hybrid conferences. “All user behavior is then attributed to a single user and aggregated in separate buckets as engagement/affinity ratings,” said Amandeep Sandhu, manager-audience engagement and analytics at the publisher. “These buckets have been predefined to reflect various topics of interests in the electronics ecosystem,” Sandhu added that the end goal is to serve “the user effectively and efficiently by intelligently anticipating their needs and expectations ahead of time.” But Sandhu isn't forgetting the advertising and marketing revenue possibilities. The information gathered will help advertisers reach the right customers and get sales-ready leads, he said. Bizo's Furlong also said advertisers embrace the move toward more targeting. “The broad assumption is that anything that has better targeting will yield a better ROI, and knowing audience behavior creates an opportunity to target marketing much more directly,” he said. “Most marketers will lap it up.” John W. Rockwell, VP-marketing and e-media at Access Intelligence, said the shift to pinning down more complex behavioral patterns is needed, and that for far too long audience developers have been focused on the jobs of subscribers rather than their actions. “Here at Chemical Week, we're in the early stages of being able to track back to the individual C-suite executive what stories they read, white papers they download, events they attend and their overall level of engagement,” he said. According to Furlong, better targeting in audience development isn't a phase. “The more publishers understand about their own audience data, the more powerful and lucrative their businesses can become. This is clearly going to be a long-term trend.” •
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