Judy Shapiro's career has been characterized by her relentless pursuit of marketing momentum. Throughout her career, Judy has consistently explored leading edge marketing practices, creating new branding models with AT&T and Lucent Technologies, and as the founder of Topic Intelligence, she’s been actively creating new ways to use topic data and digital media as a coordinated acquisition marketing discipline. Judy’s been a CEO, editor in chief, strategist, columnist, and now she pads her resume further with an appearance on the NinjaCat podcast.
When Judy Shapiro speaks about the current state of the digital advertising ecosystem and it’s plights, she comes from a place of experience and has the track record to back up her assertions that the cookie-less future is much brighter than the doomers think.
“The concept for an architecture for doing topic-based targeting for digital media is over 25 years old,” says Judy.
In the mid-2000s, native platforms, agencies, and publishers felt overwhelmed by the quagmire of data digital advertising produced, and figured that cookie technology was the best way to prove attribution.
“The a priori assumption that you needed individual identifiers to track ad performance was just accepted but never properly questioned,” Judy explains.
Topic Intelligence, the adtech company Judy founded, is a data platform that helps marketers and advertisers target their campaigns to user groups based not on their individual browsing history, but rather larger cohorts based on topic interest. This allows agencies and brands to better understand where the biggest opportunities are, to reach the biggest group of people possible.
Rather than chasing one-to-one relationships all over the internet, or myopically focusing on the endless and platform-specific analytics from the trending social media site du jour, topic-based targeting focuses on one-to-many relationships, widening the direct marketing opportunities while at the same time expanding brand awareness.
“It can be alluring to fall into a channel-specific analytics approach,” states Judy. “But this confuses the ROI and distracts marketers from the important, more broader metrics that can prove campaign effectiveness.”
When asked if Judy had any advice for marketers looking to leverage performance data effectively without confusion, she laid out three steps.
“Firstly, don't buy into the concept that you have to track people to understand ROI, when you really need to be tracking campaign results and studying effectiveness on a holistic level, not an unreachable level of granularity that comes with a host of issues and impossible technical demands.” says Judy.
“Second; stop chasing scale, which is only possible via a strategy that seeks the lowest CPM possible, when in fact, context and topic-based targeting can align your messaging with larger sized audiences that can deliver better results.”
“Lastly, throw out the funnel!” exclaims Judy. “The funnel is usually explained or rationalized in the context of spending money; marketers spend on awareness, and consideration, and then conversion, and portions of the budget and strategy are sliced up accordingly. But really, the only part of the funnel that matters is the middle. Conversion targeting is not worth the squeeze.”