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How Social Profile Data Improves User Intelligence

By Michael Olson | Posted on April 26, 2012

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You’ve heard us say it before, but it bears repeating: It’s time for marketers to evolve beyond only using demographics and clickstream data as a basis for segmentation and targeting. Demographics don’t tell the whole story about a person, and clickstream data can be unreliable.

So, where does this leave those marketers seeking to develop deeper relationships with customers? At Janrain, we think brands can gain a more sophisticated understanding of their online users by leveraging the profile data that people already maintain on their social networks. Social profile data includes not only basic demographics such as name, age, gender, geography and email address, but also deeper psychographic information such as interests, hobbies and friends.

Because the profile information that users maintain on their social networks is transparent to friends, family and coworkers, it is more likely to be current and accurate than personal data that users may supply during a traditional registration process. And unlike the clickstream, social networks maintain first-party, declared data on users, which possesses a much higher degree of integrity and stability.

The question then becomes how to get a hold of this data? Social login makes it possible to gain permission-based access to profile information from a user’s social network. When a user chooses to register or login on a site with a social identity, a permission screen asks her to approve sharing her profile data. Depending on the identity provider, brands can choose which data fields and permissions they wish to request, and the user can toggle specific fields that she is comfortable sharing.


Once brands have access to social profile data, the next step is to store and utilize it. Janrain Capture is our solution to automatically store and leverage social profile data. As a customizable database that can pair legacy data, on-site user activity data and third-party data with a social profile, companies such as Universal Music Group, Postmedia Networks and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group are using Janrain Capture as a central hub to inform data-driven marketing initiatives.

The solution provides a window into profile attributes to help brands better understand user composition within the database. Here is a visualization of age, gender and location demographics reporting available within Janrain Capture:


But user composition reporting isn’t limited to demographics. Brands can also analyze psychographic attributes such as interests and favorite movies, books and music:


This degree of user intelligence serves as the basis for effective targeting and segmentation. But simply visualizing demographic and psychographic data isn’t enough. The data needs to be easily accessible for applied use, which is why Janrain Capture is pre-built to support integrations with component technologies commonly used by brands to connect with consumers. Janrain Capture integrates with email marketing solutions, eCommerce and merchandising platforms, personalization and recommendation engines, CMS, and targeting systems, to help brands drive improved return on investment from campaigns and programs.

Suppose, for example, that you wish to promote an upcoming concert in London by sending a tailored email offer to 18-24 year old females who are located in the United Kingdom and fans of Taylor Swift. Or, perhaps you would like to target male users with a declared interest in camping, in order to personalize product recommendations on your eCommerce site. Social profile data, when collected via Janrain Engage social login and stored within Janrain Capture, makes it all possible.

The “corner store” aphorism is a timeless piece of marketing jargon commonly heard in boardroom discussions. While marketers aspire to replicate the corner store experience when managing relationships with customers, few actually possess the requisite tools to execute this objective at scale. We don’t think this goal should be so unattainable, and by taking advantage of social profile data, it doesn’t need to be.

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About the author

Michael Olson

Michael Olson

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Michael Olson joined Janrain more than five and a half years ago and has experienced the explosive growth of the digital marketing technology landscape. Previously, he managed demand generation programs at Janrain. Currently, as the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Michael drives go-to-market strategy for product launches as well as positioning and messaging to communicate the value of customer profile management solutions to companies. Michael's writing has been featured in publications such as GigaOM, Adotas and iMedia Connection.

View all posts by Michael Olson