Data Monetization: Then & Now

Data monetization is not new, but the changes in the last few years are nothing short of astonishing. When I think back to my 23-year-old self and my choice to move from list brokerage to the data world I realize now I had no idea what I was getting into. It was the compiled data world that got me hooked, but it’s the evolution of data monetization that excites me today.  20 years ago, data monetization was mostly about the rental or sale of postal lists. It was an extremely lucrative opportunity for list owners and those in the business of selling data. Today those revenue opportunities still exist, they’ve just shifted into new channels.

My specialty has always been segmentation, data overlays and creating custom audiences. I love what I do.  I get to be creative and analytical at the same time; helping marketers better target and enable list/data owners to generate new revenue streams from their assets. Being in sales, listening and learning is key.  Each day, I am working with end users to develop and refine target audiences that drive better response. Today, the options available in data segmentation are limitless. I have watched core demographics such as age, income, marital status, and presence of children expand into thousands of data attributes.

Data has always been data. What has changed over the years is not only the richness of the data but how we are using it.  Now those attributes are helping brands and organizations leverage audiences and connect them to their online and offline worlds.  Where once consumers were once tracked through their conventional responses, now virtually everything is linked to an individual’s digital identity. As a result, we have identified opportunities to monetize web traffic, email activity and mobile downloads, all which lead to new sources of income. Marketers will pay a premium to be able to make those valuable connections.   

I have heard some say that list and data monetization is not exciting, not worth their time.  I could not disagree more. For some data owners that revenue stream can be reinvested directly into their own marketing programs. At a time where marketers are looking for every opportunity to reduce their marketing costs, they often overlook their own valuable and untapped assets to fund programs. Think about the real opportunity here. If a mid-sized retail brand generates even $50,000 in incremental income from their data, and it costs them $15-$20 a year to acquire a customer, those dollars can be used to generate another 3,000+ new customers. Those 3,000 customers for an upscale brand with decent repeat purchase rates and an average order of $100-150 could generate more than a half a million in incremental sales just in year one.  Not bad.

I continue to be impressed by the way companies maximize the value of their data. Recently, Forbes reported: “Data monetization is the next frontier in digital transformation. While many companies are entrenched in programs to use big data to help make better-informed decisions, the next step for CIOs and their C-suite counterparts is to turn that information into profit.”

I could not have imagined the way the data world would evolve over the years, which makes me think, is there a limit to what we can do with it or how we make money from it?  I think not!