Spot Top Talent: Data Science in Online Advertising

by Modis on August 20, 2013

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Searching for the right data to improve your online advertising.

You may remember the early days of the Internet when marketing was simple — an image, a link and some text. Today, the online advertising industry is worth billions of dollars. Techniques like predictive analytics, behavioral targeting and content personalization are quickly becoming the new ‘normal.’

And it’s all thanks to data.

ComScore and Digiday report that over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to audiences in the U.S. last year. From small businesses to Fortune 500 brands, nearly any company can tap into this ecosystem to reach prospective customers.

In Advertising, Ambiguity Is the Norm

Online advertising is booming but may lead to with more questions than answers. How do you maximize the predicted probability of an ad click? What is the relationship between ad unit placements and user engagement? What metrics are best for capturing ROI? Should websites run CPM, CPA, or CPC based advertising to increase revenue?

“In 2013 brands will be challenged more than ever to find and reach their next viable customer prospect,” wrote Eric Wheeler for FastCompany.

Data science needs to guide your company’s online advertising program, whether your annual marketing budget is $1M or $100M. We’re sure you’re well-aware that every great strategy starts with building the right team.

Identify Your Company’s Strategic Needs

Your company needs analysts to tackle business questions, IT specialists to build massive information systems, reporting analysts to track performance and statisticians to build predictive algorithms.

The right strategy begins with an in-depth analysis of your company’s unique needs. You may need to hire a consultant or senior analytics manager to develop your organization’s analytical vision. Once you understand your goals from a business perspective, you’ll be well-positioned to understand your biggest staffing needs.

Recruit Personalities, Not Technical Solutions

Exceptional talent is tough to find, especially for quantitative and technical roles.

“While there is a surplus of job seekers, some companies are facing shortages in critical areas where they most need to attract and keep highly skilled talent,” said Robin Erickson, Jeff Schwartz, and Josh Ensell in a recent Deloitte Review study. “In other words, high unemployment rates do not mean that the talent you need will be there when you need it.”

Deloitte calls this dynamic ‘the talent paradox.’ Despite a surplus of workers, candidates with exceptional quantitative, analytical and technical skills are difficult to find.

Your team needs to keep in mind that many technical skills are trainable and teachable. If you find a strong quantitative strategist who doesn’t have experience in the predictive models that your company needs, don’t rule that person out.

Look for people with a willingness to learn.

The online advertising landscape is highly dynamic. Things are constantly changing. No matter what roles your company is trying to fill, look for team members who can master new skills on the fly.

How have your candidates learned new skills to solve a business problem in the past? What are these individuals most passionate about? The answers to these questions are infinitely more valuable than a laundry list of programming languages and PhDs.

Top Talent Gravitates Toward Challenges

When interviewing candidates, develop a sense of how these individuals respond to new, complex and unique challenges. Exceptional analysts, data scientists and programmers have a track record for diving into ambiguous situations without second guessing themselves. They’re confident in their abilities to succeed.

Your organization needs team members who feel comfortable pioneering a rapidly evolving space. They are equal parts creative, ambitious, analytical and technically inclined.

As robust as the online advertising industry has become, there is still plenty of work to be done in helping marketers connect with their target audiences. Data science is the key to navigating this multi-billion dollar space. Your team members can take a big vision and transform it into something real.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Darragh McCurragh September 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

Should you really increase the probability of an “ad click at all cost”? (As suggested above.) Not only seems there to be a massive fraud scheme whereby bots click on ads to the tune of almost ten billion (!) Us dollars per year (and never buying), also “too enticing” ads often only invite curiosity from people who are just surfing and killing time. I believe it would be much better to try and increase the probability of the audience being really buyers – a condition that may be met with Google’s ads above their SERPs, but much less so with random sites that display all kinds of keywords that attract curiosity but not necessarily buyers.

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