How much information do marketers possess?

Companies such as BlueKai and its competitors offer a broad view of the variety of consumer information available to marketers, because its tools gather data, including specific keywords, product research behavior and price searches, from multiple websites. 

BlueKai, which sells the information on its Data Exchange, advertises that it “offers over 30,000 data attributes across in-market, demo, geo, psycho and occupational categories.” Its exchange also includes data provided by companies like Nielsen and Acxiom. Buyers get access to cookies, but don’t learn the actual names or addresses of the people they are reaching.

“Because people spend so much time in social media… in areas of low context… there has been an order of magnitude rise in impressions that are not contextual,” adds Omar Tawakol, CEO of BlueKai.

The BlueKai tool offers a revealing window into the ad networks, especially because BlueKai has moved to more completely identify which network has what information.

Immediately apparent in this reporter’s profile is that while individual networks generally get it right overall, they haven’t coordinated their information, which can lead to mistaken or contradictory information on age, income or other tags.

Among the information listed: Estimated household income, age, sex, city, whether a car is new or old, whether a person makes online payments, what type of dwelling they live in, if they hold a mortgage, what categories of products or interests are preferred, and the types of products they have purchased.

BlueKai offers a donation to a charity for each person who changes their profile information.

A different model is offered by Akamai. Instead of demographic data, Akamai gathers information from a cooperative of 550 marketers about consumers’ online surfing to offer a predictive model of a company’s potential purchasers, says Tom Burg, director of the company’s product marketing advertising decision solution.

Each day, the company uses algorithms and information on what consumers have done to re-rate 140 million consumers on a half dozen data points. Akamai compiles data including what kind of sites people went to, whether they made purchases, what they purchased, whether they filled or abandoned shopping carts, and the number of product pages visited.

“Our business is predicated on driving transactions,” says Burg. “Based on predictive algorithms and all the shopping behavior, we want to find somebody in the market to buy a specific product today.”

“We view it as a form of addressable audience,” says Curt Hecht, CEO of Publicis’ VivaKi, a main buyer of the information. “Finding the right audience [on the Web] is as important as direct mail has been.”

For marketers, new information presents new choices, but is the information significant enough to reconfigure marketing spending?

“Should you stop doing everything else? Probably not,” says Forrester Research analyst Joanna O’Connell. “It’s still a relatively immature market.”

Clarification: An earlier version of this article stated that BlueKai gathers data from multiple ad networks. BlueKai does not gather data from traditional online ad networks such as those offered by Google and Yahoo. We regret the error.

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