Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Tunnl | Audiences

Why Audience Data Quality is Essential & 4 Questions to Ask Your Vendor

March 10th, 2023 | 11 min. read

Brent Seaborn

Brent is the Co-founder and Chief Data Science Officer at Tunnl.

Print/Save as PDF

Updated August 2023

If you've ever bought sushi from a gas station, you know that compromising on quality can be dangerous. Audience data follows the same rules: not all data is equal, and quality counts. 

Compromise on audience data quality, and you put your entire operation at risk for security concerns. But unless you have a large team and an even bigger budget, it’s unlikely the minutiae of secure data management and ongoing data quality assurance are at the top of your priority list. 

But when it comes to your audience intelligence platform, they need to be.

“Data security and privacy are table stakes in the audience intelligence industry,” says Erin Abell, Tunnl’s Vice President of Data Quality and Operations. “You cannot do what we do at Tunnl without a big internal focus and investment in security and privacy.” 

Tunnl takes data integrity seriously, and we want you to make the best possible decisions about who you partner with to reach the right audience. But what does that really require? 

We’ll review what you stand to lose when you use low-quality data in your ads and the best methods for avoiding data integrity risks. You’ll also learn how we manage data integrity at Tunnl, so you can compare the security and quality of the audience data and intelligence platforms you’re considering.


Top 3 Data Risks for Advertisers

Advertisers have a lot to lose when they don’t take data security seriously. Here’s exactly what’s at stake if your data lacks integrity. 


Risk #1: Inaccuracy

Rectangle 3You use third-party audience data with the assumption that it is accurate and up to date. Otherwise, why bother? Inaccurate data will mislead your campaigns, waste your ad spend, and defeat the purpose of your microtargeting efforts.

Inaccuracy can come about in a few different ways. 

  • Ineffective or unrepresentative survey and polling methods
  • Failure to refresh audience data 
  • Unreliable data modeling based on survey results
  • Data mishandling during collection, storage, analysis, or transport

Inaccurate data will cost you valuable time and money.


Risk #2: Cost

While we’re talking about cost, there’s more than your ad budget at risk. Whether you invest on the front end to prevent incidents or you’re slapped with compliance fines after the fact, data security is going to cost you. You want to spend your accurate budget on advertising, not cleaning up data breaches. 

Costs can creep up in myriad forms, including:

  • Litigation due to data misuse
  • Fines for noncompliance with data protection policies
  • Upfront costs like hiring data security personnel, security software subscriptions, etc.
  • Update costs to keep up with new data laws and guidelines

Strategically invest in secure data from well-equipped partners to avoid unnecessary spending.


Risk #3: Trust

You’ve seen the headlines about data breaches: massive banks, tech companies, and other enterprises admitting that their data (your data) is exposed. How does that make you feel? 

The many online elements of our day-to-day lives have us giving away important information left and right, but we expect businesses to keep those details safe. When a company fails to keep up its end of the bargain, consumer trust wanes fast.

Don’t wait to see your own name splashed across headlines before you start taking data security seriously. Trust is easy to lose and hard to regain.


4 Questions to Evaluate Data Quality Between Third-Party Audience Vendors

Data integrity speaks to the quality of your audience data. It is a holistic way to weigh the security, privacy, and completeness of data. To avoid security risks, ensure data integrity. 

“At Tunnl, data integrity refers to the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of data throughout its lifespan,” says Ekemini Essien, Tunnl’s DevSecOps Engineer. “It ensures that the data is not tampered with or modified without authorization and that it remains complete and accurate. When we talk about data integrity, we mean that the data is reliable, consistent, and secure.

These are the questions that should lead your investigation into third-party audience providers.


Question #1: "Is the Audience Data Accurate?"

At a glance, it’s difficult to determine if your third-party audience data is accurate. Nonetheless, it’s important to find out, especially if you're running purpose-driven marketing or public affairs ads. Ask about the data collection process and where the data comes from, as well as information maintenance practices, to get a good sense of how complete the audience will be.

Here are a few examples of questions to pose:

How Tunnl Provides Accurate Data

Our goal is to help you reach the right audience with maximum efficiency. Accurate data is the only way to do that.


The consumer and voter files that serve as the foundation for our audiences and data models are the best in the industry, enabling advertisers to confidently connect with the right people, every time. Featuring thousands of consumer attributes and representing millions of households, Tunnl audiences use more attitudinal insights, assess more variables, and deliver best-in-class coverage across those variables for precise targeting in your audience-based media buys. Our always-on database is designed to keep your campaigns accurate at all times. 

✅ The data files our audiences are built on are refreshed monthly. 
✅ Our survey collection methods are varied to ensure we collect data from representative samples of people.
✅ We use AI data modeling to match survey responses to known information about individuals.


Question #2: "Is the Audience Data Secure?"

If you’re managing your advertising agency data security alone, you could be at risk. The data that supports accurate audiences is sensitive, personal information that needs constant diligent protection.

"Advertisers and agencies can be big targets for social engineering attacks, which can compromise their data integrity,” says Ekemini Essien, Tunn’s DevSecOps Engineer. “Many advertisers and agencies lack the resources to deploy effective security controls. Some may even lack the tools to detect and respond to security incidents quickly. At Tunnl, we have the resources to constantly safeguard and monitor the data you’re using.

Ask providers how they deliver data to you - what form it will take, the channels they use to send data, and encryption methods - as an initial assessment of their data security. Dig deeper into how they store data and who they get it from. The more secure your data provider, the more secure you will be because they protect you from risk and liability. 

How Tunnl Keeps Data Secure

Tunnl employs a full-time data security team operating under industry-best standards. They constantly stay up-to-date on the ways bad actors are exploiting security vulnerabilities, applying what they learn to update our protocols. From the top down, everyone at Tunnl gets regular security training and briefings to uphold data integrity as our utmost priority. 

✅ We don’t transact on the most sensitive forms of personally identifiable information (PII) like social security numbers or credit card details.
✅ We securely provide anonymized audience data for you to use in your campaigns.
✅ Our protocol puts several steps of removal between you and sensitive PII to mitigate your personal liability.


Question #3: "Is the Audience Data Compliant?"

Data privacy has become a part of daily conversation for businesses and households alike. From debates about how safe it is to use TikTok to legislation around opt-inBlog article image and opt-out requirements, the subject of data compliance has global implications.

Europe has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). California has the Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia have privacy acts of their own. If you are doing business in these areas or using data that came from there, data compliance is a must. 

Ask your audience intelligence platform what measures they’ve taken to become and remain compliant. Gauge their knowledge of emerging legislation. What they don’t know and don’t do will hurt you.

How Tunnl Ensures Data Compliance

We’ve invested in meeting the rapidly changing data compliance standards our clients are beholden to. Our investment is your savings because we collect, manage, host, and maintain all the data you use in our platform and audiences for you.

“Part of your Tunnl subscription is we do all the compliance, we do all the management, we do all the hosting, we do all the security, and you get anonymized data delivered to your demand-side platform (DSP) to go run ads to,“ says Brian Rose, Tunnl’s Vice President of Account Management. 

You get all the benefits of great data without the headache of managing it, securing it, or being privacy compliant. You don't have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to do that because you're not actually transacting on or hosting any of this data. Tunnl does it for you.”

✅ Consumers can opt out of our database.
✅ We’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in becoming CCPA compliant.
✅ Our data only includes U.S. audiences.

We’re fully compliant, so you can be too.


Question #4: "Is the Audience Data Ethical?"

Personal data collection and use have a reputation for being murky. Some consumers want all their data private. Others - like 80% of consumers in Sailthru’s recent retail experience survey - are willing to hand over their personal details if it means scoring deals or offers. And we know that consumers consider a brand’s values before they make a purchase, according to research from Razorfish. Consumers want to work with and hear from organizations that align with their values. 

Blog article image (1)So, how can you use audience data ethically to reach the people who care about your message?

Make sure your audience intelligence platform has ethics in mind. Data compliance plays a big role in this because it often puts consumers back in control of how their data is collected, stored, and used. Another element of ethical data management is how it’s gathered. Probe third-party audience providers about how they keep bias out of their surveys and data models

How Tunnl Ethically Manages Data

Tunnl takes care to respect the consumers and voters in our files at every stage of data management. All of their data is anonymized to keep their information private, even from the organizations that use it in advertising. It’s important to us that advertisers and consumers are both satisfied with their experience.

“Ensuring that our data is fair, transparent, and respects the privacy and rights of the individuals whose data is being collected, analyzed, and used is huge for us,” says Ekemini Essien, Tunn’s DevSecOps Engineer. “Besides securing the data we receive, we ensure data ethics by making sure our collection of data is done in a legal manner and is used only for the intended reason.”

✅ We thoughtfully model our data to account for inherent bias in data collection.
✅ Data is anonymized to prevent organizations from accessing individuals’ details. 
✅ Our audiences are built and made available with the goal of facilitating productive communication between advertisers and consumers - not adversarial or combative interactions.


Take the Next Step to Incorporate High-Quality Audience Data into Your Advertising Campaigns

Data quality is a lot to unpack. It’s the expensive, necessary, laborious element of advertising that many advertisers and agencies overlook or ignore in hopes that it will work itself out. 

And with the right audience intelligence platform, it will.

Find a third-party audience provider who handles the nuances of data compliance, privacy, and security for you. It will eliminate numerous headaches and costs for your team and allow you to advertise confidently and accurately with minimal risk. 

Data integrity is always top of mind at Tunnl. It’s ingrained in the way we build our audiences and stay abreast of changes to the ad landscape, like the death of cookies or targeting restrictions. We want to see you reach your audience efficiently, ethically, and securely - without compromising. 

For third-party audiences built with integrity that are regularly refreshed to ensure accuracy in your campaigns, you can count on Tunnl.