Putting 3rd Party Data Providers to the Test

Who's Haidee Image

I was surprised to learn I could be so many people at one time!

Disclosure: This is an actual experiment you can try for yourself. We’ll give you some links at the end of this blog. Take a peek – you might be surprised/amused/horrified at who marketers think they really are targeting. 

DMPs and 3rd party data providers have long been promising marketers the equivalent of the holy grail – accurate consumer data, at scale. So many names, so much promise of the ability to develop and target a desired audience with grand reach, I must say it’s very tempting. But for all the hype, especially on intender data, it seems most data providers are missing the mark. In our last blog post, we shared the findings of Deloitte’s study whereby they asked consumers to validate the accuracy of their personal profile from a leading consumer data provider. [tweet_dis]Deloitte’s overarching finding – only 29% of consumers found their data to be at least 50% accurate or better.[/tweet_dis]


As a consumer and a marketer, I was both fascinated and mortified. So, I decided to test Deloitte’s findings myself! The challenge, I’d access my personal consumer profile, the same data marketers around the globe are purchasing for segmentation, targeting and activation, from a major DMP and a leading 3rd party data providers public registry, and compare it against the proprietary data we house here at Resonate to see just how well 3rd party data providers are living up to their expectation of accurate consumer data.

So, here goes… it’s A LOT of data, even massively pared down, but stay with me!

Major DMP – 33% Accuracy

It’s worth noting that DMPs will provide both their own data (if any) as well as an expansive data exchange or “marketplace” whereby you can pick and choose among many 3rd party data providers to build, target and activate audiences.

With this DMP registry, your consumer profile magically appears on the screen. They state that it reflects 3rd party cookie-based demographics and interests associated with the device from which you are viewing as well as the browser you use which may link to other devices. Your profile could completely change if viewed from a different device or browser. That’s comforting! This particular DMP was clearly going for scale as far as audience targeting, including me in multiple bands within one data variable as simultaneously, I….

  • Am single, single/divorced, married and not married [I’m married]
  • Have attended only some college, have graduated from college and have a post-graduate degree [I have a Bachelor’s degree]
  • Am listed in 5 different income bands
  • Own a home that is valued in 5 different bands for 3 different lengths of time [I do own a home]
  • Live in 3 different cities [Nope, just one]
  • Have either one or two children [I have 2]
  • Identify as a Joneser and a Gen Y/Millennial [I’m a Boomer – which crosses over with Jonesers]

The Hobbies & Interest data might have been the most entertaining. I pity the marketers targeting me for….

  • Hunting & Equestrian [Literally never in my life]
  • Arts & Crafts [Nope]
  • Collecting Antiques [Nada]
  • Gaming, preferring XBox & Kinect [Wouldn’t know how to turn either on]
  • Back-to-School Shopper [Both my kids are grown]
  • A Foodie [My poor husband only gets frozen TV dinners]

Professional Interest accuracy was just abysmal. Apparently, I have 18 occupations, none of which are marketing.

Data Exchange Partners – (See Below For Individual Accuracy Scores)

I didn’t have the patience to go through all 2,300 data points from all of the partners in their data exchange, so I got through the first 10 that had enough data to warrant mention. Here is their rough accuracy level on my profile:

  • Datalogix – 30% [They were the #1 data provider in their data exchange as far as volume]
  • Datalogix (DLX) – 20%
  • V12 – 25%
  • Experian – 60% [2nd largest data provider of the 10; – their purchase predictor intent data was almost all wrong, but their psychographics were pretty spot on]
  • Alliant – 30%
  • TransUnion – 5%
  • Profound – 45%
  • Dataline – 25%
  • Media Source – 10%
  • Analytics IQ – 35%

Leading 3rd Party Data Provider – 37% Accuracy

To start, I had to enter my full name, address, date of birth and last four numbers of my social security number just to access their registry. I wasn’t entirely comfortable, but expected that my profile would be pretty accurate as such.

The 3rd party data provider states three sources for their data:

a). Government and publically available records such as website directories, property and assessor files, and government issued licenses; b) Data from surveys and questionnaires I fill out [I don’t recall ever having done that or been invited to] and; c) General data from other commercial entities where consumers have received notice of how data about them will be used [how many of us have clicked Terms and Conditions without reading them!]

This provider lets you request to receive their Partner Marketing Data which is also sold for intent-based advertising, but upon request I received a polite email telling me it would take 7-10 business days to receive my PDF file by email which means I can neither update it nor opt out.

Overall, they provided six main categories for me to examine my profile–all at the household level:


  • Characteristic Data [Fairly accurate, but they asked me 5 out of the 9 data fields in order to access my profile]
  • Home Data [They had zero data for me, even though I provided my home address–so much for publically available records]
  • Household Vehicle Data [Kudos for 2 out of 4 vehicles owned; completely inaccurate on auto policy renewal information though]
  • Household Economic Data [I’ve only made 5 TOTAL offline purchases, spending a total of $780.00 in the last 12 months??]
  • Household Purchase Data [Evidentially I’ve made 14 online purchases for a total of $178 dollars – wait until I tell my husband – he’ll be delighted! ]
  • Household Interest Data [Apparently I’m really supposed to be into arts & crafts and antiques as the DMP reported the same]

Resonate – 87% Accuracy

Unlike the DMP and the 3rd party data provider, Resonate does not rely on 3rd party data. Our single source proprietary data is founded on 200K long form surveys fielded six times per year combined with real-time contextual analysis of 15 billion events per day-that’s over 1.2 trillion words every 24 hours. Using tracked online behaviors and advanced algorithms and technologies, we model out more than 7K attributes on more than 200M US adult consumers at the individual vs. household level. (We’re completely transparent about our multi-modal research approach and our accuracy rate so if you want to know the nitty gritty details check out our full methodology.)

Resonate scored pretty evenly across all 350 categories, with a few exceptions:

I don’t…

  • Have a dog
  • Drive a used Honda that cost less than $25k
  • Buy organic foods
  • Plan to buy a home audio system
  • Currently have GEICO auto insurance
  • Own a connected thermostat
  • Watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show

But what did Resonate get right? Too much to report, but I’ll share some of the breadth of the results. In this case, I confirmed that Resonate got my demographics and basic data right:

I am..HaideeNailedIt

  • A married Caucasian female with 2 children and a college degree that lives in the Mid-Atlantic whose primary language is English, who has not been in the military and serves in an Executive/Senior management role
  • Cat owner, who does not smoke and recycles regularly [Check!]
  • NOT a Minivan, pickup truck, hybrid or sports/muscle car buyer [whew!] Prefer imported cars and own an Acura
  • A hiking and camping enthusiast who prefers personal vacations at the beach, and most often makes both personal and business travel arrangements through Expedia

In addition to this basic information that the other data providers got wrong, I was able to find information (and potential target marketing data points) that more accurately reflected my own interests rather than those of my overall household. The data reflected that….

  • The personal values most important to me are being close with family and friends, financial security, and feeling a sense of accomplishment
  • Verizon is my voice, text & data wireless provider, I have an Android smartphone whereby selection traits important to me are ease of use and the camera picture/video quality, but own an Apple tablet
  • LinkedIn and Twitter are my predominant social media channels, where I am only a moderate Facebook user and have never used Instagram or Snapchat on any device [yes, I’m not hip]
  • My primary credit card is a VISA rewards card, I use online banking, am satisfied with my bank, but would consider switching based on rate increases – and PayPal is my preferred online shopping payment method
  • I will pay more for a brand I trust and that I download apps from my favorite retailers, join loyalty programs and use specialty retailer coupons
  • I prefer in-store shopping, but shop online fairly often and am an Amazon Prime member
  • Local and national network news are my weekday television habits, spending only 2-3 hours watching television per week, and that I almost never watch the MLB, PGA or NBA, but do watch NFL games and prefer college football and basketball
  • Pandora and Spotify are my main music hubs, I listen to music more on my phone than radio or other devices
  • I plan to buy entertainment room furniture and a television [which is spooky because I just picked out a new couch!]

The Takeaway 

[tweet_dis]Bottom line… when it comes to 3rd party consumer data, marketers would have better luck flipping a coin![/tweet_dis]


Marketers have been relying on this data to help them develop segmentation strategies, provide insights as a basis for relevant creative and messaging, and build audiences that will target the right customers and prospects efficiently and effectively. Targeting at a household level, when there are many unique individual buyers, all with different demographics, preferences, interests, motivations and media consumption habits, is bad enough. But targeting audiences when they fall in multiple bands of the same data point or in ridiculously vague general or just plain wrong attributes is even worse. If we’re paying good money for data, I think it’s time that brands and agencies demand more out of their data partners.

But, don’t just take my word for it, test your own consumer profile and see who you turn out to be…

The Digital Advertising Alliance provides individual consumers a list of all data companies that are capturing cross-device consumer browser/behavioral data on them for interest-based advertising. Consumers have the option of opting-out of some or all of these cookies-based collection methods at: https://optout.aboutads.info/#!/

Some 3rd party data providers make their consumer data registry on individuals or households publically available so that consumers can edit their profiles. Here are a few:



Or you can write to them and they’ll send it to you https://www.experian.com/assets/privacy/consumer-marketing-report-request-form_5.7.15.pdf.

Happy profiling!


About Resonate

Contact Resonate to accelerate the ability to accurately identify the right customers or prospects, understand what they care about, know what to say to them, and find more of them across all marketing channels with precision and at scale. Resonate’s level of data attributes and individual insights allows savvy marketers to be more relevant and outperform. Resonate is helping marketers reduce marketing complexity, drive strategy and win more business, while reducing data costs and improving media accuracy.

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