As digital advertising matures, brand data is about to have its day. The decisive question for brands will no longer be which digital ad stack offers the best feature set, but which combination of a digital ad stack and a brand’s own data confers the best strategic advantage.
After years of ad tech consolidation, the major digital ad platforms (stacks from Google, Salesforce, Adobe, Amazon, etc) are on the cusp of realizing a trifecta of capabilities:
With data able to travel a two-way street, digital ad technology ceases to be an end unto itself and, in order to be fully effective, must take on a symbiotic role with brand data.
Guidance for brands
How does a brand ensure it will be competitive in a brand-data-centric world?
Silos are unacceptable. There is no place for black boxes in this picture. Data should never remain siloed within a piece of digital ad technology and should be readily accessible by a brand wanting to enrich its proprietary data and perform custom analyses.
Brand data must be portable. A brand’s data will be a key source of competitive advantage, as well as the infrastructure on the brand side to deliver that data to digital ad platforms for activation. Without data portability as a key infrastructure consideration, brand data will be perennially stale, or at worst, totally inaccessible.
Find the right level of control. Brands have the option to take on as much (or as little) executional capability as they wish. This applies not only to the much-debated topic of in-housing, but also to customizations in digital ad platform deployments. Be assured: the most competitive, forward-thinking brands are at this very moment hunting for the “sweet spot” level of engagement with in-house teams, partners, and technology that will unlock maximum value from their proprietary data sets.
However, “control” doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Platforms and partners have made enormous investments in people, processes, scale, and technology for the benefit of brand clients. Brands must take stock of where their proprietary expertise, data, or systems duplicate what a technology platform or a partner can deliver more efficiently and cost-effectively; and conversely what is intrinsic and unique to the brand and is therefore a genuine source of competitive value and differentiation.
Given that this all sounds like a futuristic “age of flying cars” for ad tech, many brands —having grown accustomed to and accepting of the clunky digital advertising of past years— may not see it coming. Don’t be one of those brands. There won’t be easy shortcuts for even the most deep-pocketed or adept marketers.
Begin asking the right questions and making the right investments today so that your brand data is a pivotal component of your success in the years to come.