Even the most clever and eye-catching ads in the world are ineffective if they are not seen by the right audience. If you spend money to advertise but don’t also invest in analytics, you might as well be throwing those ads at a digital dartboard! Perhaps once in a while, you will luck out and hit a bullseye (and your ad will be seen by the intended target audience), but more often than not you may be throwing blindly and landing in undesirable real estate on the board (or in the case of digital advertising, on the Internet). There is no need to waste your precious ad spend on campaigns that aren’t tied directly to reputable data. Access to the right data can do a tremendous amount to improve your performance and click-through rate and some of it may be at your fingertips already!

If you want to improve ad performance and see better returns on your marketing investments, we will walk you through some surefire ways to achieve this with the power of raw data.

Hone Your Targeting Skills

No, we don’t mean your dartboard skills; we will put that analogy aside and focus on targeting your audience. The beauty of tech giants like Google and Facebook is that we can take billions of pieces of data on a database and whittle them down to very specific groups, and digital advertising (when done correctly) can get you in the front of those specific groups, who may be an audience for your product or services.

Even when we choose the appropriate topics and targets, our ads can still wind up in the wrong places on this information superhighway. This is inevitable, and it will happen in all campaigns from time to time, but the power to correct it is yours—thanks to AdWords!

Within AdWords, if you view your “placements,” you can sort the sites by costs and impressions. Once you have sorted them, take a look at the poor performers. If there are some websites that are not performing well and simply don’t seem like a good fit for what you are advertising, you can exclude them. This is as easy as a click! On the flip side, you can take your best-performing sites and move those to “managed” placements.

This big data source is at your fingertips and it is up to you to use it to take corrective action that can and will lead to improvement as performance.

Don’t Forget Demographics!

A demographic database is some of the best and most valuable raw data we have in advertising. It plays a huge part in identifying and defining audiences, but advertisers need to be consistent in evaluating how it plays into their campaigns.

Imagine this scenario: you have a product or service geared toward users (women over 50 in Midwestern states). You check your ads to see that they are being seen by twenty-something men in urban areas. Talk about missing the mark altogether! If you have taken the time to research data to inform decisions about your audience, you must be vigilant in ensuring your campaigns are reaching that audience. This is a problem that can be corrected, but it takes constant monitoring to ensure ad campaigns end up in the right place and are seen by the right end users.

Data Management Platforms Will Become the Norm

Because it is abundantly clear how advertising in the digital age is driven by big data analytics like Google Analytics and Google AdWords, most advertisers are now using Data Management Platforms (DMPs). Those who are not yet on board will be soon as this is quickly becoming industry standard. DMPs act as a central hub for a business—they collect, store, and analyze all of the business’s customer, audience, and marketing data. And the best part of all, they present this data in easily digestible formats.

Anecdotes are the enemy of productivity and innovation in corporate culture—one team might not want to try a campaign based on an old story about why a previous effort failed. Those in accounting might scoff at a price without fully understanding what can be gained in return. DMPs filter through critical data to inform decisions based on data analytics, not anecdotes.

DMPs can pull from a company’s own systems, such as CRM software, as well as data from third parties. Think of the DMP as the most sophisticated research team you could hire (but this team won’t ever take sick days!)

DMPs are a growing and competitive market so we will likely see even more innovations in the future that make these platforms a must-have for every advertiser.

The Bottom Line on Raw Data

Raw data is one of our most valuable resources in business, but only when it is used effectively. Data that is not analyzed appropriately, or worse that is reported incorrectly, does little to help advertisers improve performance or help a company’s bottom line. All businesses need a plan for reporting and analyzing raw data, whether it is done internally, funneled into a DMP, or provided by a third party. Data and data integrity can inform every decision about advertising, from when and where to run a campaign to when to tweak it to react to a changing market. All parties in the digital advertising world have to make decisions that can be traced back to raw data and getting those decisions right means making the very best use of the data.