Chapter 1 Motivation and Structure

We live in a connected world. No matter which website we visit, which app we use and which people we interact with: We leave a digital footprint.
Day by day, there is more behavioral data created and it often makes using the internet more comfortable. Here is an example: Netflix concludes from user data which movies we like and subsequently optimizes which videos are suggested to us individually. Google individualizes search results and advertisers measure the effect of ad impressions on purchase probability. Tracking data helps companies to better understand consumer behavior and to customize their services. Moreover, it allows them to better target potential customers.

This little booklet 1 tries to detail how tracking in web currently works, how advertisers use the tracking data to target consumers and finally analyses the question if targeting helps advertisers to improve their marketing ROI. The book is written for the data-driven marketeer, to show the benefits and drawbacks of the current practice.

The book is organized as follows; first it details the basic mechanism of real-time advertising, followed by a more detailed view on how online targeting data is gathered. It tries to show that targeting data is rather crude in most cases and data providers have limited incentives to increase data quality. Taking the view of a marketeer, it analyses the effect of targeting on marketing ROI. Finally, it questions the current (mis-)use of tracking data in order to achieve higher sales and better ROI. Each section closes with a couple of questions marketeers might consider.

  1. A short note on the book title: The book itself is a small experiment on the Amazon marketplace. In digital content distribution it is commonplace to optimize headlines. This practice seems not to have taken hold in the book title generation so far. I used a simple web-service to test various multiple titles to increase “clicks”. As a result I got this catchy and click-bait title.