Do You Know The Value Of Your “Known Customer Data”?

No one disputes that data is valuable. But how valuable? And how do we know? Furthermore, how can local media harness their unique audience and advertiser data assets to transform data management from a catch phrase into an actionable strategy?

On LMA’s recent Texas Innovation Mission, visits to Austin-based Umbel and Under Armour Connected Fitness helped attendees “get real” about how to unlock – and unleash – their data.


At Umbel, a venture-backed data management platform (DMP), the clear focus is on first party data, or “known customer data,” which the company espouses as “more valuable than anything Nielsen can tell them.” Rather than getting mired in second-and-third-party data sets, data appends, and look-alike audiences, Umbel stresses that there’s much more value that media companies and brands can extract from their own audiences.

To enable this, the company built a multi-pillared data platform centered on what VP of Client Services Olivia Derr calls the “4 A’s: Acquire, Access, Analyze, Act.” The data life-cycle begins with acquisition. Commonly this occurs through contests, promotions, and other marketing tactics that surface key data identifiers such as email addresses and social “likes.”

Kerr noted the importance of “data depth,” not just “data breadth.” In other words, it’s just not about capturing as many customer contacts as possible, but architecting multi-dimensional audience profiles that can contain data from up to 12 key sources, including Facebook location, beacon and WiFi data, website and mobile traffic, and purchase history through ticketing platforms.

While many local media struggle with effective data acquisition approaches, the bigger challenge as Umbel sees it is how to “unify all the data to make quicker and smarter decisions.” Media companies have begun to push their data assets into the Umbel platform, where the company then adds a layer of data science to determine what data hasn’t been found, or to create custom segments for hyper-targeted campaigns.

Umbel’s next step: assigning clear value to each data asset collected, specific to the platform or channel in which it was collected (see the 12 key data sources above). Ultimately, a media company must know the lifetime value (LTV) of every piece of data it acquires and then activates.


“Our brand mission has always been the relentless pursuit of innovation. Historically, that’s been in the way athletes dress. Now, through Connected Fitness, it’s changing the way they live.”

The transformation that Under Armour Connected Fitness (UA CF) Director of Product Ben McAllister describes is guided almost entirely by data. The data that UA CF has collected across its portfolio of connected devices and mobile brands (MapMyFitness, MyFitness-Pal, Endomondo) – most assembled through acquisition – has enabled the company to build a digital health community of 192 million users, adding 100,000 new users daily. Those users have logged 1.8 billion workouts and 8.8 billion foods. In fact, Under Armour’s MyFitness-Pal is now the world’s largest nutrition database, an un-expected and eye-opening learning for attendees!

McAllister sees UA CF as a “holistic system for how people live,” spanning fitness, nutrition, and sleep. Extensive data is tracked across all three dimensions; now that data is being unlocked as insights that can trigger specific actions or behavior changes.

The latest dimension of disruption at Under Armour, via Connected Fitness, is media. And the mission ties directly to the company’s core values. “We want to provide a platform for brands to tell a great story,” Kenneth Hurta, Head of Media Solutions, said. “Brands can integrate and act as a critical advocate on the path to health and wellness.”


Umbel and Under Armour Connected Fitness weren’t the only companies on the Texas Innovation Mission that are uncovering new ways to acquire and activate data. We saw this at local media companies as well, and even in academic research institutions.

At Advocate Digital Media, the full-service agency at the Victoria Advocate  newspaper, General Manager Jason Holmes and his team are building “owned technology” to differentiate them from hordes of competitors. The first product they built – Track – is entirely focused on surfacing new data insights that help them better under-stand their audiences, and their advertisers’ audiences.  Essentially, Track is a market research tool (think: Google Surveys, but proprietary). As users engage with content, ADM can ask them anything they want to know, capturing e-mail addresses and then fingerprinting these users to remarket to them across other platforms. It’s proven to be a particularly powerful tool for sales prospecting.

At the UT Engaging News Project, it’s a very straight-forward philosophy: before media entities make expensive investments in new technologies, they must first test users to gather the necessary data points by which to support or refute their hypotheses.

Take push alerts. According to Dr. Talia Stroud, Director of the Engaging News Project, while many may assume that younger users are more natively mobile, and thus should be more receptive to push alerts, data tells a different story. In fact, surveys reveal that older respondents are far more likely to keep push notifications on their phones.

“Want to Learn More about How Data Can Fuel Your Growth? Join Us in Boston, June 26-28!” 

LMA’s next regional Innovation Mission is headed to Boston for 3 days of dynamic meetings with progressive media and disruptive technology companies. If you’re looking to build out a data management strategy that powers both audience and advertiser growth, then this trip is for you! 

We’ll meet with prominent startup HubSpot to learn about their best-in-class content marketing and lead generation techniques, as well as their innovative culture. We’ll also enjoy a private dinner with Doug Franklin, the CEO of The Boston Globe, where he’ll share the company’s aggressive strategy to grow digital subscriptions. 

See the full agenda here! (Sign up now and get a private tour of Fenway Park, plus tickets to a Red Sox game!)