Why Data May Kill Content as the Key to Local Relevancy

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_1D_5435_72dpiDuring a keynote at Street Fight’s Local Data Summit in Denver Tuesday, Carol Davidsen, chief executive at Cir.cl and a former Obama for America staffer, spoke about the way the campaign used data to avoid breaking the bank on local news advertisements, and how those learnings are shaping the way companies in the private market buy media.

“If you know that your audience watches Honey Boo Boo, don’t judge them for it — buy Honey Boo Boo,” said Davidsen, speaking about the way the campaign used data to buy television advertising. Davidsen says the campaign was able to spend dramatically less on television advertising — nearly $100 per impression — by reaching their audience on traditionally less sought-after programming.

Of particular importance at Obama for America was trying to use data to circumvent the traditional content-driven targeting strategies. According to Davidsen, the campaign was able to organize data around data and time, rather than content, allowing it to predict future results more effectively.

“Content in the past is not the same as content in the future, but Mondays are Mondays and Tuesdays are Tuesdays. ” she told an audience Tuesday afternoon. ” The concept of time is universal — It’s much easier to match data.”

Although many advertising companies have pushed to generate deeper retention metrics, and improve measurement, Davidsen does not believe that perfect measurement — or information — is possible as long as privacy exists. However, Davidsen believes that privacy is a broader societal issue, and one that will inevitably limit the information, advertisers and campaigns can collect about users. 

“There really are no clear cut rules on the campaign on what you can do with data or what you cannot do with data,” Davidsen said. “The primary rule is don’t be creepy.”

Now as the CEO at Cir.cl, Davidsen is focusing on the relationships between people in their social networks, and how those relationships relate to their interest groups and their communities. While the true definition of local is up for debate, Davidsen believes that “local” has evolved, and  is becoming more about community in general — than just physical proximity.

Local is personal in the same way that privacy is personal, Davidsen said. What one person is willing to share might not be what someone else is willing to share. As technology continues to enable globalization, the meaning of local is continuing to change.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.