Commentary

Is Amassing So Much Data Really Worth It?

Data is the kingpin in marketing. That's nothing new.

For one thing, it can lead to new hires. When Rob Jonas was announced as Factual's new SVP of revenue, CEO Gil Elbaz stated that what impressed him most about Jonas was his enthusiasm for data, among other things. New talent is being brought on to help strategize how to make data work harder and more efficiently for targeting, creating audience segments and more.

And there are almost too many data-based acquisitions to count. Time Inc. recently announced that it had acquired Viant Technology, a data-marketing company that owns Myspace and other properties. IBM’s digital agency Interactive Experience scooped up three digital agencies last week: a marketing and creative agency called Resource/Ammirati, a digital marketing agency called Aperto, and a digital agency called ecx.io. And Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company, announced earlier this month that it had acquired Tapad, a New York-based cross-device retargeting startup that claims to track billions of data points across multiple screens.

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Most recently,  Time Warner Cable launched Kernel Connect, which integrates anonymous aggregated linear TV data and data from digital advertising and third parties. The product offers clients "unprecedented transparency into their media investments," the company stated.

Still, research from eMarketer shows that only about 6% of marketers can reliably track a customer on all of the customer’s devices. 

And only 5% of client-side marketers said they were doing an excellent job at making improvements and changes based on insights derived from customer data, according to March 2015 research by Econsultancy.

Will amassing data lead to more data-driven marketing -- or just more souped-up ad tech products and services? Time will tell. For more on ad tech's obsession with building, acquiring and managing data, be sure to check out MediaPost's Programmatic Insider Summit, streaming live this week, and #MPProgrammatic.

2 comments about "Is Amassing So Much Data Really Worth It? ".
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  1. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, February 22, 2016 at 10:27 a.m.

    Amassing data will invitably lead to more data-driven marketing AND more souped-up ad tech products and services. What marketer can resist the allure of knowing more? Some of this activity will result in higher sales; much of it will be fruitless activity. So it goes.


    The hazard of data is that we risk becoming "savant idiots" -- we can focus so tightly on so many micro-details that we forget there is a big picture. Marketers need to get in the daily habit of toggling their perspective from micro to macro and back again.


    THere's always a temptation to get fixated on the small stuff, to fiddle with the values in one cell on one spreadsheet as if we can control reality. But the big gains come from focusing on the big questions. Is the product delivering the right value to its customers? Do customers and prospects understand that value? Is my product line and brand architecture coherent?


    Few marketers have as much data as Amazon, yet Amazon's focus is relentlessly on the strategic big picture and about making their value obvious and compelling to customers.

    They know that data is not a substitute for strategy, but a critically important input to it.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, February 22, 2016 at 10:35 a.m.

    Quite right, Tom. What a lot of people seem to forget is that "data" tells you what has happened, not necessarily what will happen. The latter, which is the ultimate goal, requires a good deal of subjective assessment, guided by data but not dictated by it.

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