The first time I noticed an acquisition of a company’s data assets for a lot of money, somewhere in the range of 2 million dollars, I was wondering what the big deal was about data. That was in the early 2000’s. Now it seems like many whole companies are bought and sold solely for the data they provide. Why do businesses care that much? For large companies like Walmart and Amazon specifically, more data can help them understand many different elements from how a company organized and managed it’s operations, insights into consumer touchpoints and purchasing habits of a particular industry, and simple process-oriented improvements that make a large difference in their own workflows, not to mention it potentially opens up new markets of opportunity. The amount of data due to our primarily digital workplace is astounding and it should get more interesting as the years go by. Those that can aggregate and make data useful for business purposes are the ones that see the most impact.
For a digital marketer, data is what we get when we run campaigns to targeted users and have our channels tracking appropriately. Specifically, the data we receive are metrics and KPI’s that tell us whether users saw the ad or clicked on it and additional metrics that can provide insight into the targeted audience’s actions with an ad and our website. Our vendors have data or tap into 3rd-party data sources that allow us to target specific audiences defined by actions people take on the web based on topic, interest, demographic, gender and more. As a side note, digital marketers don’t have the individual IP addresses for this data (it’s illegal to use Personally Identifiable Information), we simply take the interpretations from other vendors through their proprietary sources and use the data provided to target specified audiences across the web.
Data sharing is done through data providers setting up an Application Program Interface (API) that allow others to build software applications using this data. These API’s let other people interact with the data in defined ways. For example, there are several software programs that I use to pull data from multiple Google Analytics profiles into one excel file via a piece of software that our company purchases that uses Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and other vendors API’s. Thanks to these API’s the software tool that we purchase helps us pull in this data into one location or spit it out into multiple dashboard reporting tools. This is done via prompts and queries defined by the software itself, sometimes using primarily API specifications and other times creating their own special formulas on top of these API’s in order for our agency to use the data the way we would prefer.