Nearly two-thirds (62%) of survey respondents reported feeling overwhelmed by the volume of incoming data, and a staggering 85% said they were unable to extract the full value from the data sources they have access to. 

Use and perception of data (company respondents)

So how do we work to change this, and whose job is it to help marketers get to grips with their data?

Why is big data such a big problem?

Marketing technology has meant that the scale of the data we’re dealing with has grown exponentially.

It’s now possible to collect data on every branded touch point with a single customer – and that means every time a display or pre-roll ad is served across Facebook or YouTube, or a search is conducted via desktop, tablet or mobile.

And as consumers spend more time online, the volume of available data only increases.

Alongside this, we often find that data is siloed within businesses and across third-party vendors  – meaning data from display, email, social and mobile app data, CRM systems and web analytics, is all kept separately.

This poses a huge challenge to marketers looking to piece together customer journeys across online and offline platforms and devices.

What this largely leads to is wasted ad spend with marketers unable to recognise the channels that are driving success at different stages of the marketing funnel.

However, it also leads to the kind of targeting that evokes a negative response from consumers – the ‘why am I being followed round the internet with an ad for something I bought yesterday’ complaint that’s all too familiar.

How do we fix this?

What’s missing for most brands is a comprehensive and standardised dataset that they can link to a customer profile, across devices.

This kind of dataset enables marketers to paint a detailed picture of an individual and act on that data across all digital touchpoints – allowing for ad spend to be allocated effectively.

This also has the added benefit of moving marketers away from using last click, and into thinking more about how different online advertising tactics drive brand awareness, as opposed to just focusing on bottom-of-the-funnel activity that directly corresponds to a rise in conversions.

Brands also benefit from being able to understand the entire customer journey, delivering personalisation and improved customer experience as a result.

Whose job is it to make this happen?

From a privacy perspective we need to make sure that data stays in the hands of the brand marketers.

This means that brands need to start thinking about how to collect first-party data from areas where they have traditionally relied on third-party data.

What we should be doing is making sure brands have the tools and knowledge to do this themselves. For agencies this means advising clients on the different tools out there, and helping them make educated, impartial choices about what solutions suit their business needs.

Alongside this, as vendors we need to be clear in the language we use when we describe our products.

We also need to make sure our offering is user friendly and offers easily manageable and digestible reporting.

This will give brand marketers the agility required to make constant adjustments to campaigns to drive performance, as well as empower them to quantify the business benefits of what they do when they are inevitably asked to justify their spend.