Marketers are no strangers to the importance of “relevance” within their communication to potential customers; it’s frequently merited as the one of the most significant attributes of successful advertising, and yet solid advice on how to actually achieve it remains somewhat elusive.

Acxiom’s European marketing director, Jed Mole, believes the path to achieving personally-tailored advertising, that consumers will be wont to engage with, lies in the use of intent data.

The subject forms the basis of his session at PMI: Europe, so before diving deeper in Amsterdam, we caught up with Jed to get to grips with the subject.

First of all, could you give us an introduction to the far-reaching world of ‘intent data’?

Jed Mole: Intent data is data about the sites a consumer visits or the searches they’ve made.

By using a tag, this navigational information can be brought together to manage a picture over time. This allows DMPs and companies offering intent data to create segments based on the pages and terms they’re interested in.

While an individual may look at a wide range of things, when there is a regular or deep interest in something, it becomes accepted as likely intent. The intent data is aggregated into logical segments that brands and ad tech partners can use, linked to the cookie, to influence the ad served and so help improve the relevance of it.

This information is great from a reach point of view because it can be generated for every web user, however, panels are also used to help classify individuals into segments using look-a-like modelling.

Could you touch on its varying applications among different marketing channels, such as search and programmatic?

JM: We’re seeing the gap close here, with search and programmatic able to link the intent data to generate greater accuracy.

DoubleClick is an example of someone helping make this happen with Google. Search and programmatic are obvious channels for intent data but we must not forget that there is offline data and indeed intent data and there are offline channels. This is where we’re seeing a lot of potential change.

How do marketers go about gleaning this kind of information? Is there a need for sophisticated tracking technology?

JM: The principle is relatively simple; through smart tag management, intent data can be generated. The sophistication comes in terms of how that data is then used and increasingly, how it is connected to other data and channels

What kind of advancements have been seen in this area in the last year or so?

JM: DMPs are increasingly looking for CRM onboarding, and this is where offline data can be used in the previously anonymous digital space.

Through online-to-offline matching, customer data such as whether the person is a customer or not, whether they have the product or not, can be linked to the programmatic world and can therefore work with intent data to influence the ad.

For example, there may be a great deal of intent around luxury cars such as the BMW 7 series, Audi A8 and Mercedes S class, but this person may be a professional driver who has a great interest in the cars they drive; chauffeuring someone in the back seats but with very little likelihood of being able to buy the car themselves.

How does the use of intent data overcome some of the many challenges facing the online ad industry?

JM: There are evolving challenges that the marketer has to overcome but the driving force in all marketing should be that the consumer will reward relevance. If we can ensure the ads and offers seen are relevant, we will diminish the need for and effect of tools such as ad blockers, which would ideally become something that would frustrate consumers rather than help them.

Are there any well-known campaigns that are exemplifying its use to a textbook level?

JM: Within the industry, it seems that providers of broadband are recognised for strong campaigns. They’re using offline customer information to be able to link the intent data and verify if the product is available in their area, to identify whether they’re an existing customer or not and to build a better understanding of the household.

We believe this is very close to best practice with intent data and a very futuristic approach – namely combining intent data with other sets and ad tech to make advertising and messaging more relevant

What’s the end goal of this? That consumers will welcome every ad they’re served?  

JM: In an ideal world, yes. Relevance is a fundamental of consumer satisfaction and marketing success. We should set ourselves this lofty goal and continuously look for smarter ways to use data for driving relevance.

The best ads will provide something relevant that a consumer is in a position to act on, but even if they can’t act, at least the ad will have been relevant and unlikely to create frustration or dissonance. I think we can do this and therefore have consumers welcome ads if this is the definition.

Read more about Jed’s session here, as well as viewing the full two-day agenda which brings biddable media, affiliate marketing and lead generation together under one roof.