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4 steps marketers must make for their data capabilities to take flight

Brands have begun to accept that an all-or-nothing approach to marketing services and in-housing is a losing proposition. Now they must embrace a similar approach for data, as increasing consumer privacy controls drive a seismic shift in targeting and attribution.

Marketers need to get smarter about using their own data and safely combining it with other user-consented data to achieve their marketing objectives. The way to approach this is by embracing a spectrum of data control that addresses their needs whether they are data-poor or data-rich. This spectrum involves four specific stages: crawl, walk, run and fly.

Data-poor companies, such as fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers, have little, if any, access to first-party data of their own. They rely on inferred conclusions from third-party data sources, which rarely supports the type of personalized marketing consumers have come to expect. While data-rich companies (eg, retail banks) have access to vast amounts of first-party data, they are often hobbled by uncertainty about what they can legally do. Plus, they often lack the systems needed to maximize its value and silo-ization.

The four stages below offer a framework to help marketers understand the steps they need to take to become effective data-driven marketers in a new age of consumer privacy:

Crawl

In the crawl stage, marketers don’t have access to significant amounts of owned data, or if they do, they lack the internal architecture needed to bring that data together for effective analysis. The recent ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study highlighted the challenges involved in gaining access to data. The auditors conducting the study experienced this firsthand, having to ask multiple parties to confirm approval for just a single set of data for one part of the supply chain. The lack of clarity over data sharing and permissions added nine months to the length of the study. A takeaway for marketers is that if they aren’t thinking about how to contractually own their marketing data, they will face the same issues.

Walk

Once ownership and architecture are addressed, data must be ingested in a ‘clean‘ manner. The ISBA study found a widespread lack of consistency in the way data is stored, logged and categorized. Marketers must adopt a consistent way to categorize incoming data from all platforms or else it will end up siloed within each platform. Connecting data through shared naming conventions, and planning for keys to link different sets of data together, is central to deriving business value from your marketing data.

Run

Only after data is collected in privacy-safe ways and cleanly ingested into a central repository can the work of gaining valuable insights from that data really begin. One of the most important objectives in this stage is to get the data into the hands of marketers to empower them to make better decisions. Gartner predicts that augmented analytics technology will be ubiquitous by 2022, but only 10% of analysts will use it to its full potential. Getting the right data to marketers can mean anything from enhanced immediacy for rudimentary campaign performance dashboards to advanced inquiry using machine learning and the expertise of data scientists to go beyond the obvious and tease out answers from your data. Whatever the mechanism, the goal is the same: getting better insights to the decision-makers who need them.

Fly

Once data is being used regularly for internal business intelligence and campaign strategy, the final stage is automation. At this point, data is consistently clean, recent, and provides insights with a degree of complexity that gives you the confidence to turn some decision-making over to algorithms. This can help automate marketing decisions such as the ideal content to display on a landing page, the best promotion to offer in an ad, or the right time of day to influence a shopper. Predictive algorithms connected to media buying platforms can act on changes more quickly than human intervention. The result is less waste and communications that are more highly personalized.

There’s no ‘easy button‘ solution to the challenges marketers face in a cookie-less world, and tech vendors have been pushing different versions of this proposal for years. What’s different this time, however, is that marketers have no choice but to act now. Otherwise, they’ll end up operating in the dark as the technology and regulatory landscape changes around them.

Tyler Pietz is senior vice-president, global data at MightyHive.

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