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Data is critical for any marketer looking to effectively reach an audience, and data cooperatives are one option for those aiming to expand data-gathering efforts and improve targeting. However, recent research finds that privacy and security concerns are holding back many industry professionals from leveraging data co-ops—despite the fact that they’re already sharing data with other groups, whether they know it or not.
When a January 2015 study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Adroit Digital, asked US digital marketers and customer insights professionals about the challenges of using a data co-op—“an online pool of shared shopper data as well as shared first-party digital data from other brands/publishers”—privacy concerns and security controls were the top two worries.
However, more than one-third of respondents already shared or sold customer data. Nearly four in 10 said they made some data or analytics results available to their business partners, and more than a third provided the same to customers. One in 10 were even considering selling data or data services to customers and business partners, and 9% already did so.
The majority of digital marketers and customer insights professionals were also mixing their data with that of outside sources. Nearly six in 10 respondents relied on third-party data moderately or extensively to inform their digital media strategy. This can be even worse than working in a data co-op—a second-party source; Forrester noted that “using ill-gotten or badly aggregated data can be riskier than sharing data carefully and securely with select trusted business partners.”
Responses also emphasized the idea that first-party data wasn’t enough for optimal targeting. Nearly seven in 10 respondents said data about customers provided by business partners was important to their marketing strategy, and 55% said the same about third-party data. Even more, about two-thirds agreed that second-party data from partners, customers, competitors and the environment was a critical data source for marketing, and 52% said so about third-party data provided by brokers, aggregators and government agencies.
Other industry sources highlight how poor data can hinder targeting efforts. In December 2014 research by Experian Marketing Services, poor data quality was the No. 1 challenge related to creating a complete customer view, cited by 43% of marketers worldwide. And this lack of a single customer view was holding back respondents from targeting consumers across channels: Around one-third said the inability to link data was the leading barrier related to cross-channel marketing. Similarly, in March 2015 polling by Signal, more than six in 10 marketers worldwide said fragmented data or customer profiles meant they couldn’t personalize customer experiences the way they wanted to.
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