Data has the potential to revolutionize advertising, but that will only happen if marketers leverage it wisely.
About half of marketers worldwide are integrating data across their tech stacks, according to a January 2018 survey from Ascend2. While a slight majority are integrating data, 43% of respondents reported that they’re merely talking about doing this.
Marketers that don’t shift from talking about data to actively using it could get left in the dust. eMarketer predicts that by 2019, four in five US digital display ad dollars will flow through programmatic pipes, which is an area of advertising where data competence is crucial.
One of the difficulties in rolling out data across multiple systems is that collecting and making use of data often requires a fair amount of manual labor.
“Data doesn’t come in a neat little consistent package,” said Adam Kleinberg, CEO of ad agency Traction. “It comes in all shapes and sizes and from all kinds of places. Getting that to all work together seamlessly is frequently labor intensive and sometimes impossible.”
Another challenge in deploying data across campaigns is that it is difficult to find accurate data at scale. To increase the scope of their data pools, brands often lean on third-party data, which helps them reach more people. But the reach of third-party data often comes at the expense of accuracy. About 80% of advertisers in a recent Digiday Research survey said third-party data is unreliable.
Since third-party providers don’t have direct relationships with users, they make inferences to build data sets. But these inferences don’t always align across vendors. A ChoiceStream study found that third-party data companies disagreed about 30% of the time on an individual’s gender. About 40% of respondents in Ascend2’s survey said that getting reliable data is a real challenge.
An issue that looms over data integration is that there isn’t a common lexicon for marketers to refer to when they talk about data. Because every vendor uses their own terminology, consolidation in ad tech could help standardize data sources and industry linguistics, according to Ken Kraemer, CEO of ad agency Deep Focus.
“There’s fragmentation, where a meaningful output requires the stitching together of multiple data sources from multiple vendors and ad tech platforms, with each wanting a piece of the ad-buying dollar,” Kraemer said. “Those dollars are rapidly becoming more and more scarce.”