Really interesting summation of how media has evolved rapidly into the digital distribution age and what the current generation capabilities and shortcomings portend for the next generation.
This third stage is about the balance between targeting, which reduces waste and increases campaign efficiency, and creativity, which takes into account the message and the placement relevance. Just as in traditional marketing, our goal is to reduce the waste against an untargeted audience and focus dollars on the audience that is most likely to resonate with the message. The difference is that digital media has the capability to get to a 100% targeted effort, whereas traditional media does not.
This stage of media strategy requires data, and data is something that we have in abundance. The issue is not whether we have the data, but how we use it to be effective. There are numerous ways to slice the data, but the most important metrics are the ones that correlate to actual increases in consideration, intent and sales.
Media and advertising has always believed itself to be an industry built on data but the fact remains that the data has been used as a blunt instrument, not a scalpel. Media buyers obsess about two dimensions, demographic data and impressions while publishers respond with, not surprisingly, a focus on demographics and impressions. I think this formulaic approach to media strategy drives the creative side of the industry bonkers, which is one reason why an increasing number of brands are looking beyond their advertising agencies as a primary means of engaging consumers.
Treffiletti is correct in asserting that we have the data, for the most part, what is lacking is the fine grained analytics that go beyond clicks to intentions. As media becomes further disaggregated this challenge will only grow larger, a consequence of universal reluctance by people to provide detailed information about themselves and of the increasingly disaggregated nature of media where visitors are not shuttled through a defined site map (e.g. inbound links to pages, search, etc.).