For Publishers, Sharing Data with Users Promotes Engagement

Consumers are beginning to believe they’re being stalked by marketers. That good news is that targeting has become good enough for people to notice it. The bad news is that it isn’t yet good enough for them to enjoy it. Really good targeting would only deliver ads when and where they are useful. This is the Holy Grail of marketing. Until we get there, more data transparency would fill the gap, because it would explain to consumers why they have been chosen to receive a certain specific campaign. This is a valuable lesson for publishers to learn: giving customers back their data will help them become more engaged with your site.

In a recent Venture Beat article,  the Brent Dykes of Adobe points out that when the music site Pandora shared with him what his behavior was in the past month, it encouraged him to listen to the service again:

I recently caught a small glimpse of the data loop’s potential when I received an interesting email from Pandora Radio. I’m an avid user of their online music service, and they regularly send me various promotional emails. Often these emails feature different artists or upgrade offers, but the one that caught my attention was a monthly email that shared three simple data points:

  1. How many songs I had listened to the previous month (214)
  2. How many songs I had given a thumbs-up rating (6)
  3. What my favorite music channel was (Thievery Corporation)

Besides these three insights, there were no fancy charts, just a question — “What will you do this month?” — and a prominent “Listen Now” button.

LinkedIn offers a similar services that tells people how many users have looked at their profiles. Knowing someone looks at your profile motivates you to keep it up-to-date, and to return to LinkedIn. Facebook offers similar information about the organic reach of its pages — a stat that angers people who now realize they have to pay for advertising, but allows Facebook to monetize more effectively.

Because, you see, businesses have been getting analytics for a long time. It doesn’t seem fair that consumers should not get equal treatment. The only time we, as individuals, customarily receive analytics is when we’ve read the last of the ten free monthly articles on the New York Times, for example. And those serve the publisher, not the consumer. Why wouldn’t I rather know that I’ve read fifteen articles on business and nothing on world events, or vice versa?  If I had that information, perhaps I’d double down, or alter my habits? Either way, I deserve to know, and if I change my pattern when it is called to my attention, that just gives the publisher a more rounded vision of who I am and how I use the site. Ultimately, it makes the targeting more precise, and strengthens my relationship with the company.

…data is an unlimited resource that will only expand with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). As data becomes more pervasive, a healthy data loop with brands will be expected and rewarded by increasingly data-savvy consumers. It’s no longer just about how your company can extract valuable insights from your customer data, but how the data can create value for your customers. It’s time to start planning how your firm can embrace the bi-directional sharing of information and master the emerging data loop.

In an effort to deliver better data to our publisher partners that they can share with their visitors, we have strengthened our reporting tools recently, and we’ve updated our internal dashboard interface.