Over the past several decades, the practice of marketing has undergone a number of transformative shifts. Direct marketing welcomed “digital” into the fold. Digital became “omnichannel” and, with the help of new technology, increasingly “programmatic” in its application. More recently, virtually all forms of marketing and media adopted a renewed embrace of the customer “audience” and its needs.
Underlying this evolution has been a common theme: the growing role of data. But while the sheer volume of audience data (and the use cases to which it’s considered addressable) have proliferated in recent years, the organizations that aim to use it generally haven’t evolved nearly as much. Despite rampant enthusiasm for the potential of “Big Data,” many enterprise-class marketers and media providers remain saddled with infrastructure, technology and internal processes designed for yesterday’s business needs, thus hindering their ability to capitalize on data and its potential.
And so even as these firms attempt to innovate—to stand up the latest marketing cloud technologies, assess emerging data onboarding protocols and build custom targeting personas, for example—they struggle with the same organizational silos, limited budget visibility and talent constraints that have stymied them for years. Nevertheless, transformation is underway, with an increasing number of organizations seeking to reinvent the way they aggregate, manage and activate audience insight.
But this move to embrace data as a centerpiece of the marketing and media effort—and to become truly “data-centric” across all facets of the enterprise—raises a series of questions: How should organizations reinvent themselves to support data-driven approaches to marketing and media? Where should they prioritize their investments to ensure greatest impact? And what kind of progress has the industry made toward these objectives?