Are we ready to change the way we read Audience Signals? – Google Firestarter

by Derek Yeung on Friday 27 April 2018

The Forward3D Display team were kindly invited to the first Google Firestarter event of the year which focused on the validity of quantitative data regarding audience signals. Before we get into the nitty and gritty, check out the views from Google…

Consumer Behaviour Vs Data


Now let’s zone back into this interesting data info. Firstly, we were lucky to have Richard Shotton, an expert in consumer behaviour, conducting a talk which gave us a real insight into the way consumers behave online. He then went onto explain how certain actions may not be represented in quantitative data due to social perception. For example, Lady Gaga’s Facebook profile suggests that 70% of her 60million followers are female. However, if we shift to Spotify, only 56% of those who listen to Lady Gaga are female. This suggests that Facebook do not represent the reality, as people must PUBLICLY admit they like Gaga when engaging with her content through a like, comment or share on Facebook. Here, we must acknowledge the fact that just because our data tells us one thing, we shouldn’t accept this but instead we should invest in observed data which reflects a much stronger representation of consumer behaviour.


“People think their brain is the Oval Office, but in reality it’s more like the Press Office, whereby our brains justify our actions from the subconscious”

Richard Shotton (2018)


To contextualise this, we as marketers need to get a ticket into the Oval Office of our audience, aka the audiences’ real mind, where there are no forced behaviours due to social norms. This is something data fails to provide and therefore potentially skews our results – it’s all on you, you “secret” Spotify Gaga fans.


The Future of Data

The Duopoly, of Google and Facebook, have been aiming to further personalise media messaging through using a more persistent ID, which they have done to a small extent through email addresses. However, the way in which we structure the collection of persistent ID’s are flawed against the industry goal of a truly personalised experience.

The question here is “how can we offer a truly individualistic, bespoke message when users are grouped together based on a single activity into the hundreds of thousands?”. Shotton argues that we must pull a number of behavioural signals, online and offline, alongside deterministic actions to target at an even more tailored level.

Interestingly, throughout the speeches, the speakers kept referring to the idea that one day, users will receive a complete bespoke offering; which is ultimately the goal the Display team at Forward3D have been trying to achieve via retargeting cookie ID pools. With innovations in mobile advertising from tracking individuals when they are 100ft away from a store to acknowledging what products they have just purchased. The industry is certainly on track to acquiring richer data as technology now enables us to retarget our audiences at a more granular level. This is achieved through acquiring observational data of our users outside a digital environment which reduces the gap between what people say and what people do.


Data Protection is Integral

Data protection is at the forefront of many businesses within the tech industry especially with the high scrutiny in the media recently around GDPR. Data science is still very much a new phenomenon and we are still learning from our actions, with one speaker highlighting that we are ultimately still adapting to our digital environment. In addition, we’re still waiting to recognise a norm and still need to identify what the barriers are with regards to using our audience’s data (Mark Zuckerberg has helped us out a bit here, though).

We have all been guilty of building media plans from the perspective of meeting targets, but have we ever stepped back and looked at the customer experience? Teams would need to evaluate the trade-off between hitting KPIs or guaranteeing a quality user experience. In a perfect world with a perfect plan, both would be achieved simultaneously.

P.S. I quite like Lady Gaga.