At a time when the use of third-par­ty data is under increased scruti­ny, con­trib­u­tor Bri­an Hand­ly touts the ben­e­fits of using your own.

In the bat­tle for cus­tomer acqui­si­tion, data plays an impor­tant role in mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy, along with a desired prod­uct and excel­lent cre­ative. There’s also the chal­lenge of reach­ing a tar­get audi­ence where they spend most of their time, which today is with­in mobile apps and brows­ing social media.

When we look at Google, Face­book and Ama­zon from the per­spec­tive of an adver­tis­er, we see that they uti­lize much more data for their own ben­e­fit than they make avail­able for audi­ence seg­men­ta­tion.

Amazon’s data has always been a walled gar­den. Their incred­i­bly deep his­tor­i­cal data on buy­ing behav­iors and pat­terns gives them a siz­able advan­tage, lead­ing to what many argue are cut­throat prod­uct deci­sions and incred­i­bly tar­get­ed prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions.

I expect Face­book will increas­ing­ly become a walled gar­den after over­ex­pos­ing and inef­fec­tive­ly mon­i­tor­ing third-par­ty data use. By shut­ting down their Part­ner Cat­e­gories pro­gram, they’re rein­forc­ing to their adver­tis­ers that Face­book audi­ence data is the pri­ma­ry source for cam­paign seg­men­ta­tion.

How to cope in such an environment?

While numer­ous data sources are avail­able for tar­get­ing across most dig­i­tal prop­er­ties, one of the most effec­tive ways brands can tar­get is by bring­ing their exist­ing opt­ed-in datasets to social media. This fre­quent­ly pro­vides a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage over the “walled gar­dens” of the major tech­nol­o­gy play­ers, as your own data is typ­i­cal­ly much more rel­e­vant to your mar­ket­ing efforts.

The four major sites — Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­ter and Snapchat — all pro­vide adver­tis­ers the abil­i­ty to cre­ate cus­tom audi­ences using their own data, and in some cas­es to use third-par­ty data sets.

The work­flow is sim­i­lar across all sites:

  • Pre­pare your data.
  • Upload it.
  • The social media sites hash and de-iden­ti­fy the data.
  • Your data is then matched to the social media site’s user base.
  • Your cus­tom audi­ence is cre­at­ed.
  • And your orig­i­nal data file is delet­ed.

Typ­i­cal­ly, the most uti­lized datasets to match against are email address­es, identifiers/tags pro­vid­ed by the social media sites them­selves and mobile adver­tis­ing IDs. Most sites require a min­i­mum of 1,000 records in order to cre­ate a cus­tom audi­ence. This is for pri­va­cy rea­sons (to ensure data is aggre­gat­ed and no indi­vid­ual could be iden­ti­fied), and to ensure that the seg­ment is large enough to deliv­er appro­pri­ate­ly.

The perks of using your own data

The abil­i­ty to cre­ate cus­tom audi­ences on social media allows adver­tis­ers to reframe many of their exist­ing mar­ket­ing tac­tics. They can encour­age repeat vis­its, whether in-store or online, from exist­ing cus­tomers, or try to win shop­pers from com­pet­i­tive loca­tions.

Brands with­out phys­i­cal loca­tions that seek to go direct­ly to the con­sumer can use cus­tom audi­ences to reach their mar­ket on social media as well. Most sites also allow adver­tis­ers to cre­ate “looka­like” audi­ences to help increase the scale of the cam­paign. They look for com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics from the audi­ence you’ve uploaded and find sim­i­lar con­sumers for your cam­paign to reach.

One final exam­ple of how you can use your own data is to dri­ve mobile app acqui­si­tion. Build­ing a cus­tom audi­ence from exist­ing cus­tomers cre­ates a seg­ment with a much high­er propen­si­ty to down­load and use a mobile app, espe­cial­ly when paired with appro­pri­ate incen­tives.

A key com­po­nent of such strate­gies has always been, and will con­tin­ue to be, ensur­ing that the datasets you’re using have opt­ed in to mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and adver­tis­ing. Expect to see more trans­paren­cy required on behalf of the end user, espe­cial­ly as the Gen­er­al Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR) goes into effect next month.

Aside from being able to reach a rel­e­vant audi­ence, bring­ing your own data to a social media site can also result in per­for­mance improve­ments and cost sav­ings. The cost sav­ings stem from being more rel­e­vant — in Face­book par­lance, this is hav­ing a high­er rel­e­vance score — which can result in low­er cost-per-click fees because you can poten­tial­ly win the auc­tion for a giv­en impres­sion at a low­er price.

Brands, adver­tis­ers and the agen­cies they work with have been hun­gry for the right data to help them reach the holy trin­i­ty of right time, right place, right per­son. Using their own opt­ed-in data sets will become an increas­ing­ly impor­tant tac­tic for the marketer’s over­all cus­tomer acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy to achieve that goal.