Why Publishers LOVE Real-Time Data

The time-honored phrase “get real” has taken on a new, urgent meaning in the world of digital publishing and marketing. Real-time data has become the Holy Grail for publishers and advertisers alike, although many publishers finding the pursuit of these treasured numbers an uphill battle. Let’s take a quick look at the value, benefits and challenges of using real-time data.

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The Numbers Tell the Tale

Why does real-time data matter so much to publishers? Well, for one thing, it matters to marketers in general — including the advertisers that help support publications. According to research by CMO.com, real-time marketing boosts consumers’ willingness to try a brand by 22 percent. Real-time bidding (RTB) has become the new state of the art for digital display advertising, a market expected to grow from an already-healthy $20 billion to a staggering 2019 haul of $38 billion. And the price you can expect to command for your ad impressions depends on how fresh and compelling your online visitor/subscriber data is.

Chasing Down a Moving Target

Your target audience may be coming to your publication’s website from any direction, particularly in this era of mobile devices and multiple media channels. Real-time marketing has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of a wide range of such channels, from permanent web pages and online search to social media. But real-time marketing depends on the ready availability to up-to-the-second data.

For ad agencies, personalization is the name of the real-time data game. Advertisers need their audience information to be as accurate as possible so they can deliver high personalized ads. This applies to every possible demographic, including location. For example, if a Cleveland native happens to be surfing the web from cell phone during a visit to Chicago, those Chicago retailers want to know it — not next week, but right now. If he just bought a bike five seconds ago, then local retailers want to be right there to offer a great deal on cycling pants or a helmet. Even the slightest delay could miss the heat of the moment for that consumer.

The Search for Timely Solutions

Fortunately, digital publishers are potentially in a great position to profit from this marketing data Gold Rush. If you’re collecting information from your visitors and subscribers by getting them to sign up for premium content or special offers, and if you’re monitoring their online behavior carefully, you’ve probably got a pretty valuable treasure trove of data already. The question is, how quickly can you weave those metrics into personalized data, both for your own purposes and for the advertisers whose dollars you hope to attract?

Digital publishers are running some hard barriers in their efforts to make their data profitable. One of the biggest issues is taking data from multiple platforms and massaging it into a coherent set of definite, easy-to-understand audience behavioral patterns before the data grows stale. This may be one reason that only 27 percent of publishers have managed to achieve real-time analytic capability, according to CIO. Fortunately, new analytic platforms, solutions and providers seem to pop up on the horizon every day — and it can make very good sense to outsource this function to a dedicated third party who can give it all the moment-by-moment attention it deserves.

Real-time data can make a real difference in how responsive you are to your readers, not to mention the perceived value your audience holds for your advertisers. Take whatever steps may be necessary to collect and interpret multiple streams of customer and visitor information as thoroughly and speedily as possible. You’ll be glad you “got real” with your data!

What is an example of real-time data leading to actionable decisions? What are the challenges of too much data?

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