We are roughly a week removed from the publication of Ebiquity and FirmDecisions’ recommendations for the media industry and it was an honor to personally contribute to that project with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
Part One of the Transparency Study brought forth facts related to rebates and other non-transparent business practices in the U.S., and we were tasked with compiling the prescriptions, principles, and processes for advertisers to capitalize on the opportunity to define the future of the media industry. There were seven different strategic platforms outlined within our recommendations, but for this newsletter, I want to focus on the data section as ultimately, without data, an organization is lost.
The customer journey continues to increase in complexity each day, with a variety of new technologies popping up along the way claiming to be able to solve your challenges. However, the reality is that advertisers need to ensure that the data created along the way is owned by them and not simply rented. Data has quickly become the currency of our industry and, when it comes to data, advertisers must have the following:
- Confidencein the accuracy of the data
- Ownershipof the data
- Freedomto choose the right technology used directly or on their behalf
If you can’t trust your data, the sources of that data, and the accuracy of it, then you are unable to confidently make business decisions or optimize your marketing investments along the way, both of which ensure you are getting the most value for your dollar. Data impacts everything from the strategy and planning cycles, all the way through to your retargeting and optimization tactics. Not only do you need the right data to make the decisions, but you also need to ensure that all new data is also accurate and being brought together to give you the most accurate snapshot of your business in real-time.
Ownership of data is something I continually speak to customers about because it is a major potential area of risk for an organization. You need to have full control over what data is being generated, either directly by you or for you. You also should be able to use that data however you see fit. Ultimately, this data contains either business details about your media planning and buying, customer data, or other relevant information about your marketing initiatives — you need to be able to see it, interact with it, and use the insights from it to improve performance across your entire business.
Taking it a step further, given that new technology is popping up each day, you might decide to switch a vendor in your stack. When that happens, data ownership provisions are critical to ensuring you get to keep the data that has been generated by the current vendor on your behalf.
As I mentioned, there really is no shortage of technology nowadays and there is seemingly a technology option for everything. With that comes a unique challenge for advertisers to avoid vendor lock-in and ensure that you have full visibility into what your entire technology stack looks like, inclusive of the technology your agencies may be deploying on your behalf. You need to have the ability to understand how these technologies stack up against your business requirements, and ultimately, have the freedom to select other viable options when those technologies might not be meeting your business needs and objectives.
What Comes Next?
From a tactical standpoint, where should you start? Here’s a short list to help provide some guidance in that regard:
- Read the Data section (page 21) of our recommendations
- Outline the full tech stack currently being used for your marketing initiatives and analytics
- Review the datasets in each technology to ensure accuracy and ownership
- Determine when each implementation was last updated and the requirements that drove that implementation
- Conduct a yearly review of your technology to ensure that current and future business objectives and requirements will be met by your current stack
Ultimately, do not let a technology limitation dictate your business requirements; let your business requirements dictate what technology you use. Data is the new currency of our industry, and there are just too many risks that come from not owning that data and having confidence in it.