Data Rights — Do You Know What Yours Are?

If audience data is the gold of the Information Economy, then the Data Rush of 2013 is in full force. We all know that every time a user consumes online media, they leave behind a trail of “digital dust” which contains a tremendous amount of potentially valuable data. Like gold dust, this raw audience data has some intrinsic value, but it must be filtered and processed before it can be fully appreciated. In this light, understanding and properly leveraging “Data Rights” is an increasingly vital topic for media companies of the future.

Although the raw data refinement process has proven itself profitable for DMPs, DSPs, and ad networks, many media companies are still missing the opportunity to gather and mine their own audience information. They are unaware of what rights they could have to claim the data, the best practices for collecting the most valuable data, and how to display it in a way that positively affects the ecosystem. Ironically, the companies that have the most to gain—and lose—from these rights i.e. the companies that rely on digital audiences for their business, are not properly leveraging the data, or worse, are unknowingly handing their data over to the wrong parties.

I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the 2012 NewsFoo (“Friends of O’Reilly”) conference in December. It was amazing to spend quality time with inspiring news industry leaders discussing the future of media. As the “Data Rights” theme kept recurring, it really hit home that everything we have been working so hard for at Umbel is more important than ever to the future of media. The way companies leverage their Data Rights will literally determine their failure or success.

At Umbel, we are committed to helping define and explain what Data Rights mean. We help our clients implement future-forward, ethical data usage practices. Companies must ask for the right to access and analyze data about the people who consume their digital media delivered on websites, social networks and mobile devices. They also have a responsibility to gather this data in a secure manner, and they must be aware of the intentions of other companies they allow to access this data. As the value of this audience data becomes more transparent, optimizing and understanding these rights and how they apply to government regulations, interactions with customers, the media industry, and other businesses becomes critical.

Unlike gold dust, data dust can be a renewable resource, and when used properly, it fuels a symbiotic relationship between media companies and their digital audiences. The digital audience has grown accustomed to receiving content and advertisements personally curated to their taste and expect media companies to provide them richer digital experiences and relevant, entertaining advertisements. Insights gained from audience data can strengthen current brand/audience relationships, foster new growth markets, and increase direct sales revenue to support sustainable, high-quality media. Media companies that want to stay alive—and thrive—during this Data Rush need to become experts on not only what their audience likes best, but how to use their audience data to provide them with the content they want.

We no longer have to guess what audiences like. One of the easiest steps to staking claim to your data is implementing a social login on your site or app. Many companies stall from taking action with their data because they are confused about the ethics of data gathering, don’t know what permissions they should require from their users, or don’t know what to do with the data once they have it. Trusted companies like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or user management platforms like Janrain or Gigya offer social login which simplifies logins for end users and unlocks reliable engagement metrics such as demographic, geographic, and interest data. Implemented properly, social login is a win-win for both the property and the consumer.

Media companies, online content providers, and consumers alike can benefit from the Data Rush of 2013, but you have to act fast. Regaining control of your audience’s data should be a top priority in your marketing and advertising plans this year. Umbel and our partners are here to help you navigate these waters—from social login to Data Rights to content strategy. We’re here to advocate for our fellow data miners, efficiently process the data they collect, and do what’s right with the nuggets. As Brad Peters of Forbes mentions, the potential is “almost unlimited.”