August 24, 2010

Data Marketing

Many of us use data every day for work. Data helps us make better decisions and, when used effectively, can help to persuade an audience. Web analytics, behavioral targeting, social media monitoring, and CRM are just a few examples of processes relying on data. This flow of data towards marketing is now being reversed, with a flow of data towards the consumer, otherwise known as linked data”. The goals of linked” data are to increase visibility, enhance relations and build the brand.

I am not a big fan the buzzwords web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0” but the outline provided by @chiefmartec has the quality of being clear and concise and simply explains the changes we have seen over the evolution of the web:

• Web 1.0: linking pages — giants that emerged here are Google and Yahoo, they help us to find content on the web.

• Web 2.0: linking people — social media experienced a tremendous growth, allowing us to connect through content with the people we know.

• Web 3.0: linking data — the leaders in this area are yet to be defined.

Web 1.0 brought us web marketing and search marketing. Web 2.0 brought us social media marketing. Web 3.0 brings us a new concept: Data Marketing.

WTF is that?

It’s about data for the consumer and not data about consumers. What data can we share with a consumer, a prospect, or a partner to strengthen a company’s relationship and build its brand?

Today digital marketing is mainly based on content promotion through search marketing, ads and social media. Data marketing can take diverse forms: SEO++, API, Mash-up, Linked Data, communication and data visualisation.

First let’s consider SEO and SEO++ as named by Scott Brinker with analogy to C and C++ (yes, Scott is a bit of a nerd). Have you ever come across Google’s Rich Snippets, Yahoo’s SearchMonkey, or ecommerce standard GoodRelations? By reading formatted data structures like RDFA and microformats, search engines display results enriched with opinions and prices etc.

Second let’s consider APIs (Application Programming Interface). For years they have been provided by big players like Google, Amazon, or Twitter, offering the following advantages:

• Generate traffic to initial service.

• Build brand authority by becoming the reference source of data for a particular sector.

• Bring revenue through affiliation.

• Solidify relationships with power users and their respective communities.

• Accelerate innovation beyond internal development resources.

The success of Twitter is fundamentally linked to its API, allowing numerous third party applications. Today organizations as diverse as: The New-York Times, Netflix, Compete, and have their own API. The quality, viability and utility of this data impacts the company that publishes it. Also developers greatly need new sources of data with which they can enrich previous data sources and create mash-ups. This has led to an explosion of iPhone, iPad, Android apps. It is here that the change of flow of data has been most visible.

Convergence towards a semantic web

The real pain with APIs is that they differ for each service. The interface and format of the data are always different. This makes it really tricky to merge different sources. The semantic web was born to deal with this problem. By providing a common language around data, the semantic web makes it easier to publish and consume new data sources. This encourages developers to create more applications, which in their turn will invite more editors to share their data, hopefully is a repeating positive cycle. In this context publishing data becomes more popular, and semantic web standards more visible.

The idea of a programmable web is finally coming true.

This could seem like a nerd illusion, but big players are rapidly joining the movement:

• Google purchased Metaweb the company behind Freebase.

• Twitter started with Twitter Cards.

• Facebook with its Like button and Open Graph are making the whole web taggable.

• Apple purchased Siri, personal research assistant.

• Microsoft bought the search engine Powerset.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Just like companies quickly used search marketing and social media as a competitive advantage, they will take advantage of the programmable web in a similar manner.

« You should do an inventory of the data you have, and you should think about the value each element has for your entity but also for your partners and more generally the outside world. »
Dixit Tim Berners-Lee

• What data sources can be a reference in your market?

• What data will be exported into exciting third party applications?

• What will be the new standards?

• What data will be most connected to other datasets and generate a positive return for your company?

Data marketing implies these strategic questions that companies need to address to not miss the opportunities of tomorrow.

Next post
Charles Darwin and APIs Last summer in San Francisco, Sam Ramji exposed the analogies between Darwin’s theory of evolution and the appearance of API (Application