In the context of today’s marketing landscape, “data” is a great many things.
It tells us who our customers are, how they spend their time, what kind of products and offers engage them. It provides insight into preferences and spending patterns, and helps draw critical distinctions between those consumers who are “in market,” versus those just browsing across the vast terrestrial and digital storefront.
As data continues to democratize—as it grows in both volume and velocity, and as the tools used to support its application grow simpler, less expensive and more actionable—its importance is only likely to grow as a driver of virtually all marketing, advertising and media interactions.
But that growing role, and the growing propensity of both marketers and publishers to adopt the “data-driven” approach, raise a series of important questions: If everyone is turning to information as a bridge to better audience interactions, is there sufficient opportunity for anyone—advertiser, marketer, digital media provider, technology developer—to leverage that information for unique competitive advantage? How can that opportunity be unlocked? And what are the key ingredients to a lasting business edge built upon the foundation that is audience insight?
This white paper seeks to provide answers to those questions, clarifying the role that data plays in driving competitive business advantage across a range of advertising, marketing and digital media use cases. Compiled through an executive-level outreach and interview effort—including online, telephone and in-person surveys of over 100 thought leaders—it will demonstrate that:
Overwhelmingly, marketers and publishers see competitive advantage as something that’s driven by a better understanding of their customers—and better-informed deployment of the media channels and technologies that power engagement with the same. Perhaps not surprisingly, their greatest data-driven successes thus far have been associated with their collection and segmentation of first-party data in efforts to drive a richer, more actionable view into their customer interactions
By contrast, data practitioners continue to struggle with a significant performance gap when it comes to applying audience data in support of broader business objectives. Though large numbers of marketers and publishers continue to see basic enterprise needs—such as “growing revenue” and “improving profitability”—as the fundamental (and expected) outcomes of their data-related investments, relatively few have succeeded in meeting their expectations with respect to audience data and its contribution to those baseline performance goals
Marketers and publishers remain focused on activating a wide array of use cases linked to available audience data. But the variety of these applications (and corresponding deployment approaches that vary substantially across industry segments) suggest that future competitive advantage will be grounded in how practitioners use data to support their unique needs, rather than whether they pursue use cases that may be common among their industry peers. Increasingly, that will grow the importance of data in the customer-facing organization and elevate a series of considerations—What kind of datasets do we seek to collect? How is that information managed? What’s the approach through which our audience data infrastructure is assembled from custom and/or third-party technologies? How are those “in-house” stacks connected to external solutions and data feeds?—to a new level of strategic importance.