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Mining for Online Gold

The Market for User Data
October 25, 2011
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In This Interview
Ed Busby, Alumnus

Career Highlights

Ed is a former partner in The Boston Consulting Group's media practice and is currently chief commerce officer of Isis, a mobile-payments joint venture of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.


With access to the Internet at work, at home, and on the go through their mobile devices, consumers are constantly connected and—knowingly or not—sharing a wealth of personal data at each website they visit. As they research, shop, and socialize online, their interests, purchases, and patterns of behavior are invaluable to companies seeking the “Holy Grail” of marketing: the ability to create highly customized, one-to-one messages for targeted buyers. That’s why the market for user data is exploding and industry players are carving out specific roles for themselves.

Simon Targett, editor in chief at The Boston Consulting Group, spoke with Ed Busby, a former partner and managing director in the firm’s New York office, about how this landscape is changing and the ways in which companies can capitalize on the growing availability of user data.

Simon Targett: How is online marketing evolving?

Ed Busby: Advertisers are moving away from “cost per thousand eyeballs” campaigns and toward “cost per click” or “cost per action” campaigns, which better reflect actual consumer engagement. But ad networks and agencies need better user data to hit their target click-through rates—a growing challenge given the explosion of online ads. What’s more, the increasing use of costlier, rich-media advertising, especially video campaigns, has made it critical that ads not be wasted on inappropriate targets.