Digital Transformation Kantar Media Future of Media

Kantar’s Jane Ostler: Sorrell’s wrong, third party data will become more valuable

By Jane Ostler |

March 18, 2021 | 5 min read

Jane Ostler, global head of media, insights division at Kantar, responds to comments from Sir Martin Sorrell, boss of S4 Capital, published in The Drum last week hinting at tough times ahead for ”third party data” sources like Kantar. Ostler claims we can still have the ”best of both worlds” and that good third party sources will increase in value following the demise of the cookie in Chrome.

Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell’s punchy comment that ”third-party data sources are becoming increasingly irrelevant” is incorrect. I’ve always been of the view that it doesn’t serve the industry to disparage others. The very significant challenges the industry face require collaboration and serious debate – not ’corporate slapstick’.

So what are forward-thinking organisations doing? They are focused on developing a purposeful data strategy, having the best of both worlds: ensuring that owned data (first-party) seamlessly integrates with other data sources (third-party). This is done using a privacy-compliant data ecosystem that includes insights from dedicated panels like Kantar’s, subscription services and other purpose-built partnerships. Third-party data is becoming more valuable and trusted, permissioned data is a differentiator, not a commodity, as part of building an ecosystem to accommodate data requirements.

The sweet spot for insights and activation is a hybrid mix of client-owned data, blended with the best and most up to date data on human thinking and behaviour. It's not a case of one source of data is better than the other – there’s complementary value that each brings to the other. And privacy-compliant data, with fully consented use cases, is table stakes now – for everyone.

Why is this mix important? First-party data brings granularity, master account/device reconciliation, deep profiling variables, and customer understanding like purchase history: while third party data brings deeper and broader market level and competitor context, a truly representative sample, moving beyond a brand's typical audience, scale, independence, and other behaviours and preferences not included in first-party data. Both are timely and link to key ROI metrics.

But with over half of marketers (51%) feeling they don’t have all the data they need to make decisions in their roles, we have a collective responsibility to accelerate. Data’s role in guiding businesses through uncertainty has never been more important. And it's a trend that will only grow as media teams navigate the firehose of data and the growing regulatory framework and permissions governing its use. As data grows in its support of strategic decision making, clients need to think about quality, focus and access as the key components of a purposeful data strategy.

Our Media Trends & Predictions 2021 report highlights the importance of data democracy. Ensuring that everyone who needs it can access it, to inform decision making across the organisation – with data platforms that are customisable and open source. This year, democratising data will develop further. No organisation in the ’service layer’ can function without an ecosystem-driven approach. Companies like Kantar are building the foundational infrastructure upon which the service layer is founded. These ecosystems require a clear strategy, foresight, partnerships and maintenance.

As brands increasingly recognise media targeting and activation opportunities, Kantar’s integrations with multiple programmatic partner platforms, including LiveRamp, Acxiom and Eyeota, can enable media teams to take data from their insight platform into the boardroom for validation and, thereafter, into their data management platform. Kantar’s Project Moonshot direct integrations with publishers enables us to understand ad exposure in a cookieless world, blended with the best analytics solutions for a true cross-publisher understanding of effectiveness, to break out of the silos.

Media professionals need access to data that is customised with the necessary functionality for decision making – and the industry needs to respond to that need with new approaches, such as custom surveys enhanced with behavioural data and AI, in an agile and increasingly automated way.

But data alone is not the solution. It’s ultimately about turning data into actionable insights, especially as knowledge of digital performance management starts to percolate into the boardroom. So let’s move the debate on from the slapstick. Brands that invest in an accurate understanding of shifting consumer attitudes towards media channels and brands, alongside their own biases and shifting consumption patterns, will chart a path to growth in the future.

Jane Ostler is global head of media, insights division at Kantar

Digital Transformation Kantar Media Future of Media

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