Merriam Webster defines insights as “The act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things.” So then why, as with everything else in our online ad ecosystem, does everyone fail to comprehend even basic English?

In my professional lifetime, I’ve been involved in countless meetings with advertisers, agencies, trading desks, and ad technology players. Here’s what I can conclude: your current insights aren’t insights. Even your first party data. You noticed somebody abandoned their shopping cart. So you retarget them. They convert. It drove incremental revenue, but did it really do much to give you an understanding of the inner nature of your consumer? Did it make you smarter in how you engage with that customer? The state of third party data these days is even worse. The third party data that is currently available as “insights” are merely signals that you or your algorithmically optimized buying system uses to attempt to get a modicum of lift in performance. Nobody is digging into the inner nature of things, they’re only clawing at the surface.

Look at any optimization system currently out there. They look at every data point available to see if there’s a correlation between some dependent variable — say, a conversion — and some independent variable — be it age, gender, zip code, temperature that day, or even whether there were any delays in flights to Chicago that day (I made that up but I bet someone somewhere has that in their models). That’s great and all because it may lift performance, but how is that an insight? How does that data really matter at that point? It becomes no different than a store owner knowing that for some reason, when she wears green, she seems to get more sales that day. But why does that happen? Nobody can explain it except maybe the leprechaun sitting on the pot of gold (as you can tell, I’m getting in the St. Patty’s mood – being Irish and all…)

Let’s look at this with a semi-real world example: Because of this deficiency that the ad tech world has placed in Agency XYZ’s collective laps, the agency folks are relegated to tell their major insurance company client that for some reason, luxury auto intenders are converting well on their term life insurance campaign. In the meeting, the client looks upon the account team with awe – not in a whoa, that’s cool way, but more like a “I really pity you” way. It’s messed up and it’s because there’s a severe disconnect between the people that serve the industry and the people that serve the clients. Let’s stop beating up on the agencies. It’s the ad tech world that has refused to understand the underlying problems to solve and has provided incomplete conclusions to the agencies that hold the client relationships.

Let’s be honest, insights delivered today in online are a joke. It’s pure data with no relevance in many cases to the core business you’re trying to serve. Now here comes the plug: with Resonate’s data, not only can you use our insights as optimization signals, but you can also become smarter as a result. We always talk about the “why” here. It’s ingrained in our culture. When we provide insights, we can tell you that your campaign moved sentiment enough to incrementally increase the number of those that said they were interested in a new product your client is launching. But in addition to that, we can also tell you that the core consumer that is interested in your product is inordinately moved to purchase products because they want to be the first to try innovations and they like to feel a sense of self accomplishment. Anyone else would simply tell you this new product purchaser was recently looking at Honda product pages. That’s a great “insight” and all, but not if you’re Apple.