Planning tools are the Sizzler restaurants of the media world

Clients and agencies should treat the Sizzler restaurants of the media world with their convenient all-you-can-eat buffet and data ‘salad bars’ with caution, explains Dan Richardson, Yahoo7's head of data.

The greatest challenge in marketing is to gain a meaningful understanding of your target audience. Unfortunately, the majority of planning tools are out of touch with their audience.

They are too reliant on third party behavioural, survey or panel data. Audience insight tools need to evolve with the added intelligence that mobile app and purchase data brings, and based on actual behaviour from a big enough pool of users to truly reflect the Australian population.

Whilst it’s useful to know your audience’s daily habits – time spent, channel consumption, time of day – this isn’t quite enough anymore.

We know people now spend five hours a day on the mobile, and 92% of that spent in-app. Daily habits are also shifting from desktop to mobile with finance app usage up 30% year-on-year and sports apps up 43%. Consumers are also becoming more comfortable with conducting their shopping in-app, up 25% year on year.

Knowing this does beg the question: why is there not more app and purchase based data informing insights and planning tools? Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings have made recent advancements in this area, despite some initial hiccups.

Bolstering this further with app usage data at category/sub-category level would also be very useful. For example, there are eleven different app sub-categories under ‘Health & Fitness’. A person using weight training apps may be very different to a yoga app user. You can reveal a lot about an audience by looking at the types of apps they frequent.

Connecting insights to action has always been the second big hurdle. There are a few insights dashboarding tools in market having a go at improving this but very few click through from what you see to an actual media buying platform. A demand side platform (DSP) for example.

At the traditional end of the spectrum, a dashboard will generate an excel spreadsheet, typically handed to a media agency planner whose task it is to decipher the data, then figure out which media owners to brief, or programmatic exchange deal to set up. This can literally take weeks. The best insights are those that can be acted on simply, and quickly.

As programmatic advertising overtakes traditional buying channels, this means delivering a key insight, and executing the media buy in the same platform. We need to be providing marketers with better tools that are made for the programmatic ecosystem.

The third challenge for marketers is that insights are too often restricted to a publisher’s own inventory. For example, Facebook Insights are designed to deliver more advertising on Facebook.

Whilst social media is a regular feature of everyone’s day, it by no means covers all of the consumer journey or the breadth of our daily habits. For that reason, insights should be agnostic, diverse and actionable across the full suite of channels available to markets.

Every insight or targeting segment should be able to be activated across all inventory sources, with no bias to one media company’s inventory. It’s about being flexible, and being able to reach the audience everywhere. In comparison, clients and agencies should treat the Sizzler restaurants of the media world with their convenient all-you-can-eat buffet and data ‘salad bars’ with caution. You may think you’re getting chicken breast, only to end up with chicken loaf.

Until we incorporate more fact based purchase and mobile data for planning, in a media agnostic fashion, we’re only seeing half of the picture. We are inferring way too much about the audience, or making it hard for marketers to act quickly and with trust on a gleaming insight.

Dan Richardson is head of data at Yahoo7.


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