Why first party data should be your first priority

As the impact of GDPR crystallizes, not surprisingly, walled gardens are imposing a new wave of data restrictions on advertisers. Their narrow interpretation of GDPR regulations is limiting agencies access to data, measurement and ad serving. This is triggering advertisers to become increasingly interested in a full view of their digital supply chain and greater transparency to measure and improve their media spend.

Stringent privacy regulations, are creating a variety of potential risks for agencies and brands without access to data. Fortress style platforms cut-off access to third-party data for ad-targeting, forcing brands to rely solely on their own first-party information. Fortunately brands can still transparently enrich their data with accurate third-party information to engage consumers across all third-party websites.

All of this upheaval is creating several new trends.

Change is on the horizon

Marketers are sophisticated in their understanding of the supply chain. They are not afraid to ask questions, and they are developing a palate for the technical aspects of marketing. They are also gaining a deeper understanding of the behaviors that lead to a person becoming a customer.

Walled gardens are restricting access to critical cookie-level data, which severely impacts marketers’ ability to perform the objective analysis required to determine how their media spend is performing against customer acquisition and conversion goals. In essence, marketers claim, “we want to know how our investments are driving sales…no questions asked.”

Moreover, technology innovations such as marketing-centric AI and cloud-computing are making data more robust, valuable and versatile. It has uses that extend beyond just media spend. And thanks to a new generation of AI-enhanced data enablement solutions, the information is more scalable and transparent.

Data self sufficiency

Recent surveys show more than 80 percent of marketers are data self-sufficient, or working towards the goal of self-sufficiency. Even before GDPR, marketers were shifting priorities and investments toward a heavier reliance on data. Because of this, there is a trend towards bringing these efforts “in-house” closer to the CMO and not under the purview of an agency. In fact, Unilever cited that its recent $1 billion acquisition of Dollar Shave Club was in part to gain access to the brand’s “unique consumer and data insights.”

While many brands move towards data self-sufficiency, there are others not moving fast enough to develop a long-term data strategy that puts them on the road to self-sufficiency.

Personalized data management is key

With tighter restrictions on data access, control and usability, it is more important than ever to centralize, manage and maximize the effectiveness of your campaign and analysis capabilities.

There is also an entire marketing ecosystem that needs to be carefully considered. The complexity of the ecosystem means you need to determine how full your stack needs to be based on your goals. For example, do you need audience forecasting? Does your campaign need to be publisher agnostic?

Whether you work for an agency, a brand or in technology, you owe it to your clients, your brand and your success to fully understand the importance of a data strategy. If you’re a channel-marketer and do not yet rely on third-party data to close the gap, now is a good time to start considering a data self-sufficiency approach that gives you enhanced insights into your current and future customers. If you are a seasoned digital marketer, there are innovative tools that help ensure you can continue using your data, enriched by additional audience information and forecasting insights to inform every aspect of your customer journey.

No matter which one of these buckets you or your company might fall into, it’s critical to get smart, ask tough questions and move fast.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Mark is the CEO of Sizmek, where he is focused on guiding the company and its leadership team and accelerating the growth of the business. Prior to Sizmek, Mark was the co-founder and global Chief Operating Officer of WPP’s Xaxis, which under his leadership grew into the largest programmatic media company in the world, with more than $1 billion in revenue in just five years. Prior to Xaxis, he was Global Development Director of GroupM, the world’s largest media investment group, where he was instrumental in setting up GroupM’s digital trading desk across 10 countries. Mark also spent time in academia, teaching at a university in Germany after receiving his Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Mannheim, until the lure of real-world marketing data drew him onto the ever-compelling advertising technology trajectory. Since 2011, Mark has lived in New York City with his wife and two sons, who he attempts to one up at soccer each weekend—but they’ve got mad skills.

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