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Data Segments & Techniques: A New Lexicon

Data Segments & Techniques: A New Lexicon

The world of online advertising has witnessed tectonic shifts in the last several years. While many fundamentals of interactive advertising have remained more or less constant, the evolution of mobile online advertising has introduced new terminology that requires standardization. From entry-level ad operations, to executive leadership, and everywhere in between, the constant forces of change require a shared lexicon to conceptualize and communicate the core building blocks of our industry. Whether thinking high-level about programmatic ad purchasing, or diving into the nitty-gritty of geodata or cross-device segmentation, we need a common framework to keep pace with an industry in constant transformation.

Underlying all of these changes is a flood of data, organized into audience segments – the industry’s fuel that drives more than $50 billion in annual economic activity.

As part of our ongoing efforts to facilitate a shared understanding of how this data is utilized, the IAB Data Council has developed a Data Segments & Techniques Lexicon. Initially released in 2011, this comprehensive update offers a uniform language to understand the components of data that shape our world. Beyond a simple glossary of terms, this document provides a systemized framework to help understand how all of these data components work together to form the critical audience segments that enhance advertising value.

First, we define the world of data generation systems: devices (from traditional desktops to tablets, wearables, and cars), delivery systems (ad servers, CMS, social networks), collection and storage systems (CRM, digital beacons, POS systems) and analysis systems (audience segmentation, inventory analysis, creative engagement analysis, etc).

We then turn our attention to the definition and description of data segments and techniques: sources, collection, processes, and attributes.

  • Sources: what type of data is collected, and from what source? We define views and visits, interactions, and purchases, and categorize each source as either online or offline.
  • Collection: What is the relationship between the data collector(s) and the user? We explore and define 1st Party, 2nd Party, and 3rd Party collection relationships between users and publishers, affiliates, data aggregators and ad networks.
  • Processes: Is the user actively providing the data or is it system generated?  We explore declared versus inferred data types, data currency (age), and manual versus algorithmic generation.
  • Attributes: Is the information about the user (descriptive attribute), or their activity (predictive attribute)?

Finally, we offer an extensive set of examples that tie all the pieces together into modeled audience segments, such as “Descriptive Segment (Offline to Online) – Demographics (Gender=Male, Age range= 18-25)” and “Predictive Segment (1st Party & Inferred) – Business Traveler.”

This Data Segments & Techniques Lexicon is but one small part of the IAB Data Council’s continuing efforts to demystify data usage in the marketplace and create a common language for buyers and sellers. The IAB Data Council’s mission is to enable revenue growth in the interactive advertising through the establishment of quality, transparency, accountability, and consumer protection in data usage. IAB’s commitment to data is only growing, with exciting new initiatives on the horizon in data education and literacy.

Data Segments & Techniques Lexicon

MediaPost: IAB Releases New Lexicon On Data Segments, Techniques


Patrick Dolan
Former President
at IAB