arguingThe recently wrapped AAAA conference in New Orleans was notable for something that didn’t happen. It didn’t produce an agreement on who owns performance data from online campaigns, and it is going to turn in to a brawl.

The AAAA had formed a task force with the IAB to study the issue. They were slated to deliver its recommendations at the event. At issue is the role of measurement agencies, content owners, and search engines. No one doubts that the advertiser and the agency own performance data. But there is a school of thought that says they shouldn’t own it exclusively. After all, if a campaign runs as pay-per-click, shouldn’t the website own the data?

The issue will come down to individual relationships. It is not a sweeping rule that will be handed down and followed blindly. If P&G tells Yahoo, for example, that under no circumstances will it tolerate any usage of what it considers proprietary data, it’s hard to argue that. If a startup company wants to share its data in return for a better CPM, that deal will happen. The result here, will be gray, not black and white.

It is worth pointing out that other industries have found civil ways to own data and share some or all of it with partners. Example: Consumer packaged goods. A company called Loyalty Lab introduced a new coding technology this week that gives the CPG brand immediate sales data that will track the bounce from promotions or other short-run ad campaigns. CPG firms own that data, no one argues it. But if a major supermarket account needs that data to calculate price optimization, shelf placement or inventory mix, they will get that data. Not for keepsies, but they will get it.

Once data is owned it can be bought and sold. There are a lot of ways to do that, not all of them good. The internet will continue to be the media that innovates data generation. How the key players get along in their digital sandbox will define this argument.

And don’t hold your breath for that big announcement of the new data policy.