Eularie Saldanha
Apr 27, 2022

Ad:Tech 2022: Decoding a single source of truth for digital marketing measurement

The panel comprising Sonia Khurana, COO, Digitas, Rubeena Singh, country manager, Josh, and Monaz Todywalla, CEO, PHD India, touched upon the importance of unification of data for businesses

From left: Sumeet Singh, Monaz Todywalla, Sonia Khurana and Rubeena Singh
From left: Sumeet Singh, Monaz Todywalla, Sonia Khurana and Rubeena Singh
The first day of Ad:Tech 2022, saw Sonia Khurana, COO, Digitas, Rubeena Singh, country manager, Josh, and Monaz Todywalla, CEO, PHD India, discuss the importance (and obstacles) of unification of data for businesses, expectations consumers have from digital, and more...
The talk was moderated by Sumeet Singh, CMO, Info Edge. 
Digital expectations from consumers 
As digital consumption grows, so does the expectation from consumers. 
Speaking about expecting the bare minimum, Singh recalled a recent incident she faced when shopping online. "I wanted to purchase a lamp from a site I used to shop often on. They had my number, but not my email since it was not mapped together. I wasn’t able to log in and so I clicked on the WhatsApp icon that was meant for customer care, wrote to them and told them about the problem. They made me tell them the whole story, only to tell me that they couldn’t help, before redirecting me to customer care again. I was frustrated.” 
Singh added that she knew the brand’s marketing head and wrote to him, instead of taking to social media (to share her experience), which would be her usual choice. “This is the reality. We’ve all faced experiences like these. This happens because there’s no unified data. Data is present in the different teams but is not put together and many companies are realising that now."
Obstacles in unifying data 
Coming to the tricky side, Todywalla agreed that there is a lot of data, but also stated that no one makes wisdom out of that data. 
“What are we going to do with this single view of the consumer? Directors on the board and the marketing head have very different views of what they want. The sales head is least interested in what we’re going to do. The CMI (consumer and market insights) team too is on a completely different trip of what they think is going to happen, whereas the CRM (customer relation management) guy does not want to share the data,” she said. 
Todywalla was of the view that everyone wants a utopian single view of the consumer, without understanding what this view will do for them. “Who has this data, is becoming the number one challenge across marketing functions. You need the right talent and investment behind the journey of a single source of truth (SSOT). Putting it into execution is important.” 
Agreeing with Todywalla, Sumeet Singh shared that data is not only fragmented but full of noise, which needs to be taken out to reach the right insights. Speaking about who bears the brunt of most of it, she said, “It is maddening for the marketing department or the chief digital officer who is mandated by the CEO or the management to facilitate this whole piece. We all want to unify our view, but all the departments look at the different sources of data which have different values.” 
Making it better 
Khurana imagined getting people with different KPIs into one room, and couldn’t find a word better than tricky. However, seeing light at the end of the tunnel, she explained how looking at all of it from the customer’s point of view is a good start. “It’s easy to get an alignment when you have a single entity around which you’re having the discussion, instead of my personal KPIs or the departmental KPIs,” she added.  
Taking an example of a ‘digitally mature’ client from her previous stint as agency head, Singh spoke about how her former client started to walk the talk. “While the structure did not exist, they all came together and worked on data. The interesting observation was that they took some decisions and made some big bets, even in terms of money. Even when they realised they made a mistake, they admitted it and moved to something new, which was wider and led to the unification of data.” 
“Companies need to think about it a bit more strategically, instead of dividing their functions. To become customer-centric, they have to reorganise themselves,” Singh added.  
However, looking at how companies hoard data, Todywalla stated that capturing unnecessary data that won’t even be used, is no less than a crime. 
Is SSOT a myth or a truth? 
Todywalla joked about how even though conversations around SSOT began in 2017, there is no single solution for them, when there should have been ten. When asked if SSOT was a truth or a myth, she said, “We have a long way to go. It could be a reality, even if it’s not one yet. My advice is, don't be stuck with SSOT. Every company needs to decide for themselves if it’ll work for them.” 
For Khurana, it’s a reality which now needs to move beyond concept, to execution. “SSOT sounds like a big term, but if you break it down, it’s the pace and energy behind it that will determine how fast companies will get there.” 
It’s an absolute need for Singh, who believed that even if it’s not a reality, companies should make it a reality due to the growing impatient consumers, who would be lost to competition if companies don’t act on it. 
Speaking about the importance of SSOT, Todywalla ruled that it’s a concept that’s needed in any business practice, even though most companies fail to see that. 
However, Khurana ended by stating that the unification of data is more necessary for making sound business decisions to help companies spend their marketing dollars in the right way. 
Campaign India

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