Marketers have a wealth of personalised data available to them to better target their messages to consumers. But those same marketers do themselves a disservice if they do not drill beneath the headline claims of service providers to understand fully the quality of the data.

Take demographic data as an example.

Typically, none of the data that a social platform, email provider or shopping site receives is tested or validated to any level of legal proof — customers rarely, if ever, supply documents like a passport or driver’s license.

Instead, in those environments It’s up to the user to declare their information. If they choose to describe themselves as a 25-year-old female earning $120,000 when in fact they are a 49-year-old male earning $50,000, there is nothing stopping them.

The situation when you are using data from, for instance, a telecommunications company is very different.

The relationship between a telco and its customers is a legal one. Customers are required to provide ID and sign documents promising that the information they are providing is correct. The customers also need to go through a 100-point identity check, which requires legal documents like passports, Medicare cards, driver’s licenses and credit cards.

In this way, the age and gender information a telecommunications provider collects is a 100 per cent verified and an accurate representation of the customer.

There is another significant benefit to telecommunications data. As location-based data from telcos is derived from mobile phone towers, it can be used to understand customers’ movements as well as their historical journeys.

This is different to other location data sources like GPS, WiFi, and IP addresses, as it allows brands to analyse the routine movements people make — and therefore to better understand their habits.

Analysis of this data also allows brands to identify locations such as where customers work, and where they live, based on the amount of time they spend there.

If, for instance, you are Starbucks, and you can see that a set of consumers pass your storefront at the same time each day on their way to work, then you can target those consumers with relevant ads at the point when they are dreaming about a fresh croissant with their morning frappe.

Mobile phone towers are widely dispersed, but importantly they are specifically located in the kinds of places that attract high volumes of people. This includes airports, shopping centres and sports stadiums, for instance.

The data is so precise that you can target people on a postcode level with the kind of granularity a brand needs to drive traffic to specific stores.


In addition to using verified demographic data points like age and gender to target consumers, telco data allows brands to build custom segments that specifically meet their particular needs.

Brands will typically want to reach a consumer who is actively searching products like those they provide. Telco data enables brands to use segments containing clusters of URLs that users have visited while searching for products and services.

For a health insurance company, for example, a sample segment might include URLs like iselect and might compare the market in which people are researching and price-matching.

By using this segment, the health insurance company can target people who have visited those sites wherever they are on the Internet. ensuring they are precisely targeting people who have shown strong intent and interest in insurance products. By doing so they embed their brand in the consideration set of that consumer.

Here are four simple questions marketers should consider asking the next time a company tries to sell them on the virtue of their data set:

  • Where does the data come from?
  • How is it collected?
  • How is demographic data declared?
  • How is it different from other second-and third-party sources?

Companies have made great strides in personalising their campaigns and ensuring that the right message reaches the right buyer at the right time. However, it is easy to make lazy claims about demographic data quality. The more verifiably accurate the data is, the more effective campaigns will be, ensuring the brand best maximises the return on its advertising dollar.

Liam Walsh is the managing director – ANZ at Amobee which is a member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply. 


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