“Real” Data, a Wealth of Information

Staff Writer:  Greta Frusha

Date: 7.11.12

Hairong Li from Michigan State University received a grant from Google/WPP in 2009 to explore the impact of online advertising.  He chose to use data from Chinese internet users.  With an impressive system, he and other collaborators were able to obtain single-source measures of 14,500 users which included millions of records of ad exposures and search strings over a 6 month period.  With this huge data set, they were challenged in converting it into data transformation and analysis.

There is a wealth of user data that is a byproduct of normal consumption of interactive media.  Li feels that this is a goldmine waiting to be tapped by advertising agencies Los Angeles with the appropriate privacy practices in place.  This data is generated every time users visit a web site, conduct a search for a product, post on Facebook, purchase online, or use a location-based service from a smart phone.  With these actions, users leave their digital footprint in these media.  This real-time data have already benefited operations of many Web sites, major research firms and a new generation of data aggregators and warehouses.

Li uses the information in more of a managerial relevance.  Li notes that there are characteristics of real-time data that are unique from a researcher’s point of view.  Real-time data is behavioral.  Taking in all of the user’s digital footprints that they have left behind, the user’s knowledge, interests, preferences and possibly future behaviors can be inferred.

Real-time data are contextual.  Tracked user behavior usually occurs in a specific setting with precedent and consequent paths, along with time and locale.  Real-time data can be huge and because of the interactive nature, media use and online behavior can be tracked continuously which generates endless streams of data.  This data can increase the value of academic research which in turn can generate useful information for any advertising agency Los Angeles.

Li also believes that real-time data increases the relevance of academic research for the advertising business world.  He has suggested that teams of academic and practitioner researchers do research that will benefit both the academic and practice of advertising.  Because of the proprietary nature of  real-time data, it makes it hard for academics to access.

 Li feels that area needs to be explored and to solve the access issue.  He has observed several ways the access issue can be resolved and could benefit the American Academy of Advertising.  He notes that firms do make their data public for analysis.  He has also observed that university initiatives seek industry cooperation in making proprietary data available for analysis and that many research firms make their data available to academics for a fee.

Li feels strongly that mining real-time data of digital media and online behavior can lead to advertising research that is more relevant to the practice of advertising.  He believes that the more this data is used that it will present more information that someday could be used to solve many of the problems that the world faces today.

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