Since 2003 I founded and operated a growing B2B Media company – and 10 years before that , a high-tech B2B marketing firm. Over the subsequent 27 years, I watched the business data life-cycle evolve; first with postal, then email, and now digital. History repeats itself. If you want to improve your digital marketing campaigns today, you need look no further for the answer than yesterday:
In the 1960s renting postal mailing lists and sending direct marketing thru the US mail was a novelty. A fella (and friend) by the name of Dave Florence seized the opportunity and founded Direct Media to fill the void advertisers had for accurate 1st Party postal data. Dave created the first Data Warehouse where mailers could contribute their “customer names” allowing fellow contributors to send promotional mail too, while at the same time renting “customer names” from fellow contributors to send promotional direct mail of their own. Invariably, the source of the rented data consisted of actual customer purchases and prospect inquiries for products & services. Transparent, highly-accurate, 1st Party data. Direct Media went from $0 to $250m~ in revenues very quickly. Many a successful postal mail-plan succeeded because the audience data was 1st Party sourced. Eventually, all manner of data compilers, purveyors, and others rushed in to “fill the gap” with lookalike data from 3rd Parties. Even so, direct-mail today is still a $44 billion dollar a year industry.
In 2001, before I founded BusinessWatch Network (BWN), and the dot-bomb economic explosion – email marketing was born. Much like its postal predecessor, email marketing came onto the scene quite rapidly. In 1998 the firm I was leading had 150,000 high-tech face-to-face event attendees with opted-in email addresses. Transparent, highly-accurate, 1st Party data. At the time, an opt-in email list of 1st Party B2B high-tech professionals whose inbox could be delivered a relevant offer simply did not exist – and even if it did, there was not nearly enough supply to satisfy demand. Many a successful email campaign was delivered to audiences within that 150,000 1st Party data source. I recall that particular list generating something like $7 per/record per/year for several years. Inevitably, the internet scrapers, harvesters, manufacturers and other “data” companies rushed in to “fill the gap” with 3rd Party data. In spite of that, today email marketing is a $3 billion dollar a year industry.
Serving impression advertising is like nothing that has come before it – and also like everything that has come before it. Behind massive 3rd Party digital audience data stores, gleaned from bots and widgets whose cyberspace communication is relegated to esoteric machine language protocol – you’re advertising campaign sits in the que. The cookie ID’ed audience you hoped would hit the target sits in binary XO formation ready to be served up to your target at a millisecond’s notice. It all sounds so, well, ahh – programmatic. However, just as postal and email before it, the entire digital ecosystem is built not on the technology stack, nor speed, nor the ability to properly serve messaging to a customer prospect, although all those things are important – its built on the quality of the audience data being served.
Most of the unsuccessful B2B impression ad campaigns result because the quality of the 3rd Party data is poor. In spite of the limited availability of 1st Party Data at scale, digital advertising is $333 billion dollar a year industry. The more you and your team tap into 1st Party audience data – the more successful your (digital) campaigns. True then – and now.
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