For many years now, data has been reshaping the way that brands (and especially the folks concerned with their marketing, advertising, media sales and other customer-centric functions) build and engage with their addressable audiences.
That story—of Big Data and its proliferation across use cases—has been told many times. But less well known is how audience data is fundamentally changing the organizations that rely on it. With every new data asset or technology platform they onboard, after all, data practitioners are also driving a fundamental change in their business-as-usual, often upending years of precedent guiding how they allocate resources, establish budgets, and measure the impact of those investments against peers.
Complicating matters further, marketers and publishers looking to become “data-centric” have had little choice but to embark on that titanic change effort without the benefit of clear and complete intelligence; the inherent complexity of data and its myriad applications has previously made accurate reporting—on how users are investing in data, putting it to work and evolving their marketing approach in turn—too challenging to accurately compile.
This report represents the first industry-wide effort to address that gap. By providing credible, practitioner-informed insight, we hope to demystify how U.S. companies are investing in audience data (and its associated support functions), helping practitioners benchmark their own spending against industry norms and establish a firmer basis for future investments.
To the many contributors, reviewers and market participants who lent time, insight and information to make this report possible, we offer our most sincere thanks. And to our readers: we hope you find this analysis useful. We look forward to your feedback as we aim to expand this effort (and its granularity) over the coming years.