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Understanding Audience Targeting Data

Understanding audience targeting data

A clever and visually stunning marketing campaign will mean nothing if it holds little significance to the person receiving it.  A campaign’s success depends on the quality of the data that fuels it.  That’s why marketers need to ensure that their customer and prospect data is as detailed and accurate as possible.

Why is it so important for marketers to understand the different types of audience data?  The success of a programmatic marketing campaign relies on high-quality audience targeting data.  When marketers execute on accurate and targeted audience data they optimize their campaigns and reach an audience most likely to engage with their ads.

All data isn’t the same, however.  Navigating through the various types of audience targeting data available, plus understanding the difference between deterministic and probabilistic data is essential to sending the most valuable message.

Deterministic vs. probabilistic

Deterministic identifiers are based on some type of identifiable data, meaning the specific user is already known.  These identifiers include log-ins and other registration data, and sometimes offline customer data or IDs, information the user and data collector have shared with each other.  It’s possible to determine with certainty that this data relates to a particular user.  Leveraging deterministic data is important when a marketer is trying to reach a specific group of healthcare professionals or targeting a list of customers.

Probabilistic data isn’t as precise as deterministic data; however it allows for scale and enables marketers to reach a wider target audience. Publishers only have deterministic data on so many users, so probabilistic data enables marketers to reach users who exhibit similar behaviors to a known (deterministic) audience.   It’s hard or impossible to say who these data points pertain to, specifically, but you can use what you know about your known users to make assumptions or predictions about the user behind the probabilistic ID.


First party data is the information you collect directly from your audience or customers.  Information that is collected through website behavior, search input and purchase activity is considered first-party data, according to Michael Goldberg, director of content at Dun & Bradstreet.  First-party data is where deterministic data comes into play.  It’s the information consumers provide, such as address, name, geography and other useful information that can be used to identify them.  This is considered the most valuable, accurate and reliable data.

“First-party data is considered the most accurate and reliable.”

“This tends to be the most accurate compared to other forms of data – and the cheapest, because there is no cost in obtaining it,” Bradstreet wrote.


Essentially second-party data is another company’s first party data that is being shared with you for your use.   You may partner with a publisher or similar company to share data sets of the same type of audience to add depth and scale to your database and reach new audiences.  Examples of second-party data are activity on websites, customer survey data, or transactional data.


Last but certainly not least, third-party data is the most common type of information used by marketers.  Third party data is data that you buy from outside sources that are not the original collectors of that data.  This type of data is aggregated from multiple sources by a broker or other entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the user, according to Ad Age.  This type of data is mostly used to enhance first party data and to create consumer segments, dividing all users into groups of people that are similar in ways such as age, gender and interest, enabling marketers to expand their target audience.

HCP Programmatic Targeting with HealthLink Dimensions

The world of audience targeting data can seem confusing at first, but once you understand the different types of data and how they relate it will begin to make sense. With HCP Programmatic Targeting from HealthLink Dimensions, you can leverage deterministic data to power your programmatic marketing strategy.   Target by specific criteria like age range, treatment behavior, hospital affiliation, gender, geographic area and more to reach your target audience and deliver the perfect message at the appropriate time.

Learn more about how HCP Programmatic Targeting with HealthLink Dimensions can help you reach your healthcare audience today.

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