Reporter's Notebook: How Data Management Has Changed

A decade ago, I began writing about attribution and data being used in the advertising industry. It certainly was an imperfect system then, and it remains an imperfect system.

This year brought Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, not to mention data breaches across Facebook and data leaks in Google’s services by third-party developers. All these mishaps are putting a spotlight on the way that brand marketers use data to target advertisements to consumers.

Data has become an industry challenge -- not just how it’s used, but where it comes from and how it gets parsed.

A study by Kantar Millward Brown, titled "It’s Time To Think Of Disruption As A Growth Opportunity," points out that most established brands operate in a comfort zone of business as usual — existing practices and protocols keep budgets inflexible.

Data — any type of data — should be used to inspire growth rather than limit it, according to the study.  Marketers must begin to think out of the box, as Ikea's marketers did when they renamed some of their products using keywords that consumers used in searches to find their products.



Reading the report got me thinking, and digging into the subject by reaching out to a few brands.

Some are taking matters into their own hands and applying their version of the European GDPR standard in the United States, although it’s making targeting more difficult.

Brands using data appropriately think they have fewer sources today. Connecting the dots back to the consumer has always been difficult, but companies now say it has become much more challenging.

One optimistic brand marketer told Data & Programmatic Insider that, with higher consumer awareness of data, breaches, and privacy, “I’d like to think we can get to a place, with the right kind of acknowledgement and permission, where we can serve more relevant experience to customers -- because the whole idea is about serving relevance and not trying to be evasive.”

Several brand marketers, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said they will likely start relying on their own data as a way to connect with customers. Connecting the dots between platforms will become more difficult.

There will be differing degrees of certainty about the data and how it will perform. Within the brand’s own channels there will be a higher degree of certainty, and as that connection spans across partners, it will shift. Unless technology changes, targeting and data will become less certain about impressions and other metrics when using third-party data.

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