Recently, I was fortunate to spend a few days in New York attending an industry convention that attracted a formidable gathering of leading marketers, technologists and analysts. It was stimulating to witness the cognoscenti of the industry narrate their experiences, share advice and occasionally even lightly trade barbs.
Data, in particular, was on everyone’s lips and the discussions covered a gamut of topics within this domain:
Internal (1P) Data
First-party data continues to be top-of-mind for marketers. Over the past few years, many organisations have seen vertiginous growth in the size and scale of their internal data assets. Companies that have distributed internal marketing systems, including DMP, CRM, automation platform, analytics tool etc., are now investing in ensuring seamless integration/interoperability between the various solutions. A prominent and contiguous concern is the effective activation of these consolidated first-party data assets across multiple platforms and channels.
Of course, these projects are being executed while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe in May next year (and other similar data privacy and security measures in other markets including in India) that will have far-reaching consequences on the marketing and advertising industries as a whole. In particular, common themes across different efforts include a broader definition of “personal/PII data” (and associated identifiers) as well as more stringency around ensuring individual rights/consent.
For those who are just beginning their data journeys or have stumbled along the way, the counsel from elders is akin to Roman emperor Augustus’ favourite adage: festina lente i.e. make haste slowly –– rather than attempt to achieve everything in one fell swoop, chart a course with smaller, manageable milestones early in the process (a simple example cited was attribution with first-party data) in order to establish unequivocal value quickly and then make consistent incremental progress.
External (2P/3P) Data
As many noted, there are always tangible benefits to complementing first-party data with external data, whether to reinforce existing insights or introduce additional perspectives. Even some of the world’s largest CPG companies, that have strong first-party data, have quickly exhausted the limits of their internal assets and looked outward for supplemental resources.
What’s evident is, when procuring external data (whether second or third-party), marketers are increasingly concerned about the provenance of these assets –– where they come from, how they were collected etc. This is not only in the wake of various data quality-related issues in the recent past, ranging from inadvertent indiscretion to intentional impropriety, but also in anticipation of GDPR and other upcoming privacy regulation. Especially, in the absence of industry standard tools to measure/certify the quality of data (a deficiency noted and bemoaned by quite a few presenters), the source/s of data and method/s of acquisition are critical to distinguishing the wheat from chaff.
In conclusion, a fair share of the most recent advertising-related news from around the world has been bleak, leading to dire prognoses by some. However, the prevailing sentiment in the conference was one of optimism –– that we (collectively) will emerge from these travails stronger than ever before as data firmly establishes itself as one of the cornerstones of the industry.
(Projjol Banerjea is founder and chief product officer at zeotap, a data collective that aims to democratise enterprise data for better decision-making across industries.)