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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Audience Insights Platform

Picture of Ryan O'Connor

Ryan O'Connor

Product Marketing Specialist at Consumer Intelligence Group (CiG)

Bob Dylan famously sang that “The Times They Are A-Changin.” For marketers and advertisers, times are constantly changing; it can feel like we barely have time to test and adopt the latest channel, tactic, or tool, before something new comes along.

While many of us are dealing with the uncertainties of 2023, it’s also critical that we make decisions and plan for two significant changes coming in 2024.

  1. The loss, finally, of third-party cookies. Invented in 1992 by Netscape, third-party cookies have both fuelled the growth of digital advertising, and heightened expectations around targeting and customizations for both marketers and consumers.
  2. Privacy regulation and resulting best practice expectations. Canada, lead by Quebec with Bill 64 coming into effect in September 2024, is getting closer to alignment with GDPR. These changes will require marketers to carefully evaluate their data strategies and targeting techniques. In the coming weeks, we’re going to further discuss Bill 64 and what it means for Canadian national marketers.

With times constantly changing, budget and resources being squeezed, how do marketers both improve their marketing efficiency in 2024 and future proof any investments they make in data and targeting solutions?

Simple; invest in an audience insights platform.

Audience insights platforms offer you the capabilities needed to access and leverage privacy compliant data, automate workflows, and conduct more effective campaigns at scale without breaking your budget.

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve developed this quick guide to help you and your team choose the right solutions for today and tomorrow.

Here are five questions Canadian marketers should ask when evaluating an audience insights platform.

#1 Does it provide access to actionable, privacy-compliant data?

Every marketer knows data is important, but what they actually need is accessible, actionable, privacy compliant data, from multiple data sources and types.

Most marketers have access to their own customer data, so it’s important look for an insights platform that:

  • Augments your data with privacy compliant second and third-party data sources.
  • Connects and projects disparate data sources.
  • Adheres to best practices to anonymize data.
  • Uses a future-proofed common identifier.
  • Provides frequent data updates.

BONUS: Look for a platform that self-validates its data in a single ecosystem versus offering multiple data assets you need to choose yourself and assemble.

The best audience insights platforms allow you to connect your first party data to a single ecosystem that cross validates with multiple second and third-party data sources that are updated frequently and privacy compliant.

Providing marketers with actionable and privacy compliant data is just one of our strengths. Learn more about CiG’s unique data-as-a-service model and read our data methodology.

#2 Can it automate your workflows to save money and generate faster insights?

At the end of 2022, over 50% of marketers encountered various challenges with driving insights from their data, from inability to organize data for easy consumption to slow insights and analytics generation.¹

Having lots of data is one thing, but it’s only valuable if you can quickly produce useful and actionable insights from it.

Many marketers rely on overextended analyst teams to produce reports or they turn to expensive outside consultants to interpret their data. Both take time and budget, which is in ever decreasing supply. The solution is simple: automation.

Whether you’re profiling your customers, finding lifestyle trigger-based opportunities, or targeting lookalikes, having automated workflows offers marketers the competitive edge. In a fast-paced world it is an essential function for all insights platforms.

What automated processes to look for:

  • Data anonymization.
  • How data attributes are aggregated or projected.
  • Report generation.
  • Mapping and data visualization.
  • Activation or actionability of outputs.

Automated insights platforms generate insights from your data in minutes with profile reports, data visualizations, and dynamic charts that make it easier to understand the key traits of your target audiences.

#3 Does it include a built-in segmentation system? Can you connect your own segments?

More marketers are realizing the benefits of segmentation with 62.0% stating that improving audience segmentation is a top priority.²

Many organizations invest heavily in developing, socializing, and updating proprietary personas or segments. Adding your own segmentations should be possible in your audience insights platform.

Pro Tip – Make sure other insights (i.e. media consumption, social values, consumer behaviours…) are not dependant on the segmentation system, but are independently projected. You’ll gain better, more granular insights and flexibility to define your own segmentation.

Having a built-in segmentation system into your audience insights platform keeps you in tune with Canadian consumers and offers another dimension to better understand your customers and targets.

What to look for in a segmentation system as part of an insights platform:

  • Built-in to a broader data ecosystem.
  • Ability to integrate and augment your existing segments.
  • Built from a robust set of data variables: socioeconomics, demographics, ethnic, behavioural, lifestyle, etc.
  • Frequent updates of data.
  • Actionable segments.

Whether you’re targeting families in small-town Alberta, new immigrants in suburban Toronto, or young professionals in downtown Montreal, segmentation offers you the advantage of precision targeting across Canada.

A built-in segmentation system is the difference between a standard insights platform and an excellent one.

CiG’s intelligentSEGMENTS are built into intelligentVIEW. Click here to find out more.

#4 Are these insights shareable with my internal and external teams?

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the shift back to a tighter integration between strategy, planning, media, and creative teams in the development of campaigns.

Successful campaigns require a shared understanding of the target audience between all teams, at a granular level. But too often that’s not the case. The strategy and planning team may work directly with research to inform the plans, but the creative team may be working from a separate brief that is based on personas from previous campaigns, while the media team builds audiences based on each platform’s building tools. 

While all teams are working on a common understanding of the target audience, it is not a consistent, shared audience. For that you need an audience insights platform. 

The best insights platforms should:

  • Make reports easily accessible to export, download, and share with your teams.
  • Allow for multiple user groups, both internal and external.
  • Include report modules that support persona development.
  • Have the ability to build audiences and test different scenarios in real-time.

Whether you’re a small marketing team or an agency, being able to quickly share reports makes a big difference in your work’s impact.

Speaking of campaigns, that brings us to…

#5 Lastly, can you build and push audiences to your media partners?

Data and insights are only the first few steps in delivering an impactful campaign. The critical step is being able to use data and insights to build audiences that you can both profile AND push to media partners.

We often hear how media teams are targeting the same audiences in each of the channels, but what that looks like in real life practice is selecting the same targeting attributes in each media platform. Although each of these audiences may share the same attributes; they are not the same audiences. This is a critical differentiator.

If you are looking for an insights platform to inform your media buying, then it’s important that it has features to both:

  1. Build audiences:
  • Easy to use selector tools that both build and size audiences.
  • Has 100% Canadian household coverage.
  • Includes high value, industry recognized data assets, such as Numeris.
  • Ability to map and visualize.

   2. Push those exact same audiences to multiple media platforms:

  • Export audiences directly to your media partners (DSPs, programmatic, social, carrier walks).

Connecting consumer insights to media is what we do best. Learn more about our media activation.

Maximize and future-proof your marketing efforts with intelligentVIEW

As more marketers turn to audience insights platforms to support their data driven programs, it’s important to select a partner to deliver on today’s marketing priorities and one who future proofs against tomorrow’s ever changing privacy landscape. 

Want to see how we’re unique in the Canadian insights landscape?


  1. What Challenges Are Brands Facing When Reaching Target Audiences? – Marketing Charts
  2. Improving Audience Segmentation Is Top Campaign Management Goal – Insider Intelligence

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