Google, not Facebook, will lead the affinity brand advertising race, Forrester claims

Forrester analyst claims the development of a 'database of affinity' will change the brand advertising game

Google and not Facebook could lead the way in defining a ‘database of affinity’ that brings new rigour and understanding to brand advertising, a Forrester Research analyst has claimed.

In a new post for the analyst group entitled Why Google – not Facebook - will build the database of affinity, marketing analyst, Nate Elliott, said Google has the capabilities, tools and insights needed to understand a consumer’s affinity and measure it.

The concept of a ‘database of affinity’ was aired by Forrester Research in March as a way of cataloguing people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviours on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

In his post The database of affinity can bring discipline to brand marketing, as well as during a session at the recent South by Southwest conference (SXSW), Elliott pointed out affinity is different to intent because it is led by emotional motivation, expressed after a purchase is made, and remains relevant even after a search or purchase has been made to fulfil an immediate need.

Elliott claimed a database of affinity therefore needs to be viewed and utilised by marketers in a different way to the information relating to intent. However, once harnessed, it could bring the same rigour and discipline to brand advertising that the database of intentions brought to direct response.

Key to building such a database is affinity data from lots of sources, the ability to bring meaning to that data, and the brand ad units that will derive the best value from such data, he explained.

According to a report on AdWeek last October, Facebook has already been allowing a select group of marketers a sneak peek at their fans’ other affinities, such as brands, TV shows and music performers.

“When we started researching this topic, it seemed like a no-brainer that Facebook would best be able to offer marketers the database of affinity,” Elliott stated. “But the more we looked at the facts, the more obvious it became that…Google is the company most likely to bring marketers a usable database of affinity.”

Why? Elliott said Google possesses a broader set of affinity data that most people think, tracking 800 million YouTube visitors, the social connections and share habits of its 500 million Gmail users, and its Google search index.

Google also has the capability to dynamically evaluate enormous amounts of data not only through its own branded businesses but also through ad serving arm, DoubleClick.

What do you think of Forrester’s concept of a ‘database of affinity’? Register as a CMO subscriber for free to submit your comments below, or email the editor.

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