Chapter 1 Motivation and Structure

“Something is better than nothing. But is there anything in it for me?”

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 book 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. 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.