The incredible advance of digital technologies has taken marketing light years from where it was a decade ago. The industry today is bolstered by more powerful analytical tools, greater target precision and programmatic delivery of content that can accomplish in milliseconds what once took weeks. We are in the space age of marketing, surrounded not only by new opportunities but also changes that necessitate some adaptation, according to Kevin Tan, CEO for global audience data provider Eyeota. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

This is exemplified by programmatic, with its impressive scope and ability to place the individual at the centre of marketing. It is a needed response to the shift that has occurred with the rise of social media. While making a brand famous was once the key to a strong and growing a customer base, it is no longer as effective in today's multi-screen, multi-device, multi-platform world in which consumers - not advertisers - call the shots.

Programmatic allows companies to deliver their message to very specific target groups, but automatic success cannot be guaranteed. Anchoring people's attention is near impossible with the inundation of brands and messages from every side. The analytics can seem promising - 3 million YouTube views, 7k Facebook post likes, 12k retweets - but these merely represent a fleeting moment of attention given before a person moves on to something else. Companies must not mistake such numbers as indicators of lasting impressions or true engagement; the kind that develop meaningful relationships that sustain an upwards sales trajectory.

So what drives marketing success in this new era? A human strategy. Instead of solely focusing on numbers, considering who consumers are as people brings clarity to what messages will resonate. While juggling work, social life, relationships, family and innumerable other facets of life, individuals will only give attention to something that enables and adds value. If a company's message demonstrates it can help consumers meet their goals - whether professional or personal - then your audience will become engaged brand advocates.

Audience data makes this possible. Made up of sociodemographic, purchase intent, B2B, interest and seasonal data, it helps advertisers to build a better understanding of their target audiences and the world in which they live. Not only on an individual level, but at scale.

"Our Q2 Index report indicates that sociodemographic data remains the most popular audience data type. This is perhaps unsurprising given that it has been the foundation of traditional marketing campaigns since the inception of audience targeting," observed Tan. "But increasingly, advertisers are looking to pepper this data with greater understanding."

The right blend of audience data can help marketers to better understand a more relevant point to engage consumers, which in turn brings greater context to advertiser communications. Used correctly, audience data can make interpersonal relationships between the brand and the consumer possible. This is the foundation of campaigns like Nike's "Find Your Greatness," Red Bull's "Gives You Wings," Beats by Dr. Dre's "Hear What You Want" and Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty."

Not all data is created equal, of course, and it's critical that advertisers set off on the right foot when moving to programmatic. Understanding the role of data and ensuring the right data is being utilised are key - and asking programmatic providers a few questions can help in the early stages of the early-stage process. These include:

  1. Where is the data collected? A good provider will be happy to forward a transparent list of how they have compiled their data.
  2. How fresh is it? Engaging people through timely and personalised communication will only happen if the data is current.
  3. Where can it be accessed? Providers must be able to be integrated with advertiser demand supply platforms.
  4. How can it be used? Communicating the data end goal to providers (for example: social, mobile, display or audience targeting or tracking) will ensure it is as accurate as possible.

Data can be of a very high quality. It does not have to be analytical, cold and robotic; rather it empowers brands to show their human side and convey messages that people pay attention to and embrace. Instead of doing all the talking, it lets a business listen and respond to its audience. Above all, it inspires trust and respect - both of which are priceless in the crowded marketplace of competitors vying for enduring loyalty.

"In this new age of marketing, it is important to apply timeless values to the technology being adopted," concluded Tan. "programmatic makes so much possible, but it is most beneficial when used to deliver a message that is meaningful to the recipient. In this way, it will support long term growth of both the client base and reputation of a brand, taking it 'to infinity and beyond'."