NASA-style data tools drive digital ad campaigns

Car companies and financial firms are tweaking their advertising campaigns hundreds of times a day with the help of technology that treats the Internet as a giant real-time consumer monitor.

Bill Simmons of DataXu at Structure:Data 2012
(c) 2012 Pinar Ozger. [email protected]
Tactical ad buying once meant that a turkey company would buy a full-page ad in the week before Thanksgiving. With the advent of web pages and digital ads, it’s now possible to strive for that sort of optimized timing on a constant basis — showing the right online ad in response to moment-by-moment consumer sentiment.

While an individual ad exec can’t react fast enough to the reams of consumer data that pour in from the internet, it’s possible for companies to automate their marketing responses.

One way to do so is through DataXu, a company that uses programming tools that its executives developed while working on a NASA Mars mission.

Presenting at GigaOM’s Structure:Data conference on Thursday, DataXu showed off its technology in the form of a writhing map of colors that reflected consumer sentiment to cell phone promotions. In practice, this means that a phone company’s ad campaign would automatically increase or decrease offers for contracts or free phones or pre-paid plans.

DataXu CTO Bill Simmons says the technology means marketing departments can now devote more resources to making strategic choices — such as matching new product lines to customer segments — rather than tactical ones like choosing what time to show an ad.

Watch the livestream of Structure:Data here.