February 6, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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Marketers’ consumer data may be extremely flawed—how Truthset is aiming to change that


Ad Age: Say I’m a marketer, and I have a third-party list of what I think are 5 million of my ideal target consumers. I go to you guys, you take a look at the data, and you say only 3 million on the list are actually my target consumers. So I’m losing reach, but in a way not really, because my relative response rate should actually go up if I just target the 3 million.

Chip Russo: Yeah. Like, if you’re looking for dog owners, and you market to people who don’t have pets in the house, you’ve wasted every dollar, right? Every dollar that didn’t get to that target is total waste.

Ad Age: And what if I’m a marketer who still really needs to reach 5 million? Can you help me merge various lists that you’ve cut down so that I can get back up to 5 million?

McKinley: Now you’re talking about multi-sourcing, as opposed to single-sourcing from one data provider. The world of audience segments involves buying a lot of hay in haystacks to get to the needles. But we’re moving toward being able to compose piles of just needles.

Ad Age: What’s the level of amenability and cooperation among various data providers to a client coming back and saying, “Hey, Truthset tells us this list is only 45% accurate to our target, so we only want to buy 45% of these names”?

McKinley: Well, first of all, they know that their data is not perfect. A lot of it is probabilistic and modeled. The second thing is all data is not created equal.

But that’s OK, right? I mean, I can buy a $10 bottle of red wine or I could buy a $1,000 bottle of red wine—there are markets for both types of wine, right? So sometimes you do want to pull down the data-accuracy threshold in order to hit the reach threshold. The point is that just because we offer the ability to shrink an audience to absolute certainty doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone’s going to buy that. Another thing is we’re actually helping these data providers price based on quality—they’ve never been able to do that before. 

Our philosophy is all boats rise with data accuracy, except for the ones that shouldn’t be in the game in the first place.

Russo: That’s why the Truthset Data Collective is so important. These are the industry-leading data providers, all knowing that if they come together, it’s going to be for the betterment of the industry.

And, you know, they’ve been working with us for three-plus years. We’re just publicly announcing the Data Collective now, but we’ve been laying the groundwork for a long time. Every single quarter, they ship us their complete consumer data file. And then we do analysis—we essentially do data governance for them. That helps them make really smart strategic decisions about their own sources of data. And because we’re measuring quarter-over-quarter, they see trends. Like, “Hey, we invested in this one thing, or we did this modeling exercise to this one segment, and boy, did it change—it changed for the better, or it changed for the worse.”

The Data Collective, in and of itself, knows that it’s raising the awareness of data accuracy. Because if you’re a part of it, then you’re leaning in—you’re making a statement that you’re a data provider that cares about accuracy, that you’re willing to offer transparency and insight. And that’s a big differentiator.



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